Persian: āyātullah ‘al-khumayniyy
Persian: (ORIGINAL NAME) ruhollah ibn mustafa musawi khomeini hindi
(1902-1989) Iranian religious leader and politician.
His name was Ruhollah ibn Mustafa Musawi Khomeini Hindi (meaning the Indian). The name Khomeini was taken from the town where he was born.
Two titles have been used for him, ‘Ayatollah’, which is the title of a religious leader, but not the highest in Shi’i Islam. This was Khomeini’s title at the time of the Iranian revolution, but he soon took the title ‘Imam‘, which is definitely the highest position in Shi’i Islam. Actually, this title is so high that this necessitated a new interpretation of Shi’i theology.
Khomeini became a highly respected religious teacher, based in Qom, but his position was not a leading one when he in 1963 was arrested for opposing land reform and women’s emancipation. He was exiled and moved first to Turkey, then to Najaf in Iraq, where he lived for 13 years.
For a short period, Khomeini moved to Paris in France. At this time, in the 1970s, Khomeini had begun to be a symbol of the opposition facing the Shah.
Khomeini’s fight against the Shah was even more effective when conducted from abroad than it would have been inside the country. His message was recorded and duplicated to music cassettes, which were smuggled into Iran. These cassettes were duplicated over and over again inside Iran with normal equipment and Khomeini’s message was quickly spread over all of the countries.
Radio broadcasting of his message was another form of urging people to disobedience. The mere fact that Khomeini was abroad, and the mystics surrounding the distribution of the cassettes, must be seen together with a central theme in Shi’i creed: The occulted Imam, who disappeared in 941, but who is said to still be alive, just waiting for the right moment to return to the world, and rule the world with divine justice.
In February 1979 Khomeini could return to Iran, and a process of Islamization began. All Western influence was to be removed from Iran. Khomeini’s politics have since then been a politics of world Islamist revolution, and support has been given to some groups in other countries fighting for Islam with military means.
To what extent Khomeini has supported terrorism is not all too clear, but there have been instances where Iran has gone far trying to influence foreign powers’ politics. Khomeini is probably the one force most responsible for the length of the Gulf War against Iraq, which could have ended years before 1988.
Khomeini’s control over Iranian politics must have been strong in his 10 years period, but there were many interests opposing his politics, and the effect of his rule was often disturbed by this.