|Biographical detail : ||The spiritual mentor of the Islamic Revolution against the Pahlavi regime and the Supreme Faqih of Iran.
Ayatullah Khomeini who was the political leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, in the twenties and the Thirties, studied, wrote and taught theology in the holy city of Qom, but after the Second World War he became prominent as a critic of the Shah’s secular modernisation programme and links with the West, denouncing “the plundering of the nation’s wealth by traitors in alliance with imperialism”.
Ayatullah Khomeini during the 1960s had become leader of Iran’s radical clergy and he brought the people of Iran out on the streets to protest against the cruel and unconstitutional policies of Reza Shah, whom he identified with Yazid. Muslims had a duty to fight such tyranny, and the mass of the people could respond to Ayatullah Khomeini’s summons, which echoed with their deepest traditions.
Khomeini was arrested in 1963 for promoting rebellion, he was first imprisoned, and then expelled – he took refuge in Najaf, the holy city in Iraq. In 1978 the Iraqis expelled him to France – his writings and tape-recorded sermons further weakened the Shah’s regime. He was a great religious leader who inspired the people of Iran against the monarchy, which seemed repressive and unjust to the downtrodden masses of Iran. Secularists and intellectuals were willing to join forces with the ulama because they knew that only Khomeini could command the grass-roots support of the people.
The Islamic Revolution was the only revolution inspired by a twentieth-century ideology that evolved a radically new interpretation of Islam. Religion was proved to be so powerful a force that it brought down the Pahlavi state, which had seemed the most stable and powerful in the Middle East.
Ayatullah Khomeini’s triumphant return to Iran, after 16 years of exile, in 1979 forced the Shah of Iran, who was considered by Iranians, to be a stooge of the West to leave the country unceremoniously. The zeal and speed which gripped Iran was watched by the world in awe but to the West appeared to be detrimental – loss of export of consumer goods and armaments and an ally, Iran, geographically enjoying a location of strategic importance. In Iran Ayatullah Khomeini was treated as the ‘saviour of the nation’. It appears that the Islamic revolution may have helped the Iranian people to come to modernity on their own terms.
In 1980, after Ayatullah Khomeini’s return to Iran, neighbouring Iraq headed by Saddam Hussain who was considered to be a dictator attacked the country. The West heavily supported Iraq, by the supplies of sophisticated armaments and military intelligence. It was commonly understood later on in the Muslim world that Iraq was nudged by United States of America to attack Iran. The West strongly disapproved the Islamic revolution in Iran. The Iran-Iraq war continued from 1980 to 1988 until it was an unwinable war and finally a cease-fire was agreed between Iran and Iraq.
Ayatullah Khomeini was the author of numerous religious and political books. He was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Mulla Sadra, and in his last address to the Iranian people before his death he begged them to continue the study and practice of irfan, since there could be no truly Islamic revolution unless there was also a spiritual reformation.
Ayatullah Ruhullah was born in Khomen. Not far to the south-west of Tehran stands the holy shrine of Imam Ruhullah Khomeini, the Ayatullah who inspired, led and largely created the modern world’s only theocracy. To the north of Tehran, the city that swept the Ayatullah to power in the revolution of 1979. To the south is Qom, the seminary town where he had studied, preached and challenged the repressive rule of Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, and which is now theological heart of Islam. And the next door is Behesti-e-Zahra, the main cemetery for Tehran and resting place, too, for about 30,000 Iranians soldiers killed in the 1980 – 88 war with Iraq.
Ayatullah Ruhullah Khomeini left behind Iran a proud, self-sufficient Islamic republic.