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Seyyed Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini, (24 September 1900 – 3 June 1989) was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. Following the revolution and a national referendum, Khomeini became the country's Supreme Leader—a position created in the constitution as the highest ranking political and religious authority of the nation—until his death. Khomeini was a marja ("source of emulation", also known as a Grand Ayatollah) in Twelver#### Shi'a Islam, but is most famous for his political role. In his writings and preachings he expanded the Shi'a Usuli theory of velayat-e faqih, the "guardianship of the jurisconsult (clerical authority)" to include theocratic political rule by Islamic jurists. In the Muslim world abroad he was described as the "virtual face in Western popular culture of Islam," known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iranian hostage crisis. Khomeini has been referred to as a "charismatic leader of immense popularity," considered a "champion of Islamic revival" by Shia scholars. Khomeini is officially known as Imam Khomeini inside Iran and amongst his followers internationally, and Ayatollah Khomeini amongst others. He began to study the Qur'an, Islam's holiest book, and elementary Persian at age six. The following year, he began to attend a local school, where he learned religion and other traditional subjects.
In 1920, Khomeini moved to Arak and commenced his studies. The following year, Ayatollah Haeri Yazdi transferred to the Islamic seminary at the holy city of Qom, and invited his students to follow. Khomeini accepted the invitation, moved, and took up residence in Qom. He studied Islamic law and jurisprudence. Khomeini also studied philosophy under: Ali Akbar Yazdi, Javad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi and Rafiee Qazwini. However, perhaps Khomeini's biggest influences were yet another teacher, Mirza Muhammad 'Ali Shahabadi. Ruhollah Khomeini was a lecturer at Najaf and Qom seminaries for decades before he was known in the political scene. He soon became a leading scholar of Shia Islam. He taught political philosophy, Islamic history and ethics. Several of his students later became leading Islamic philosophers. At the age of 61, Khomeini found the arena of leadership open following the deaths of Ayatollah Sayyed Husayn Borujerdi (1961), the leading, although quiescent, Shi'ah religious leader; and Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani (1962), an activist cleric. The clerical class had been on the defensive ever since the 1920s when the secular, anti-clerical modernizer Reza Shah Pahlavi rose to power. Reza's son Muhammad Reza Shah, instituted a "White Revolution", which was a further challenge to the scholars.
Opposition to the White Revolution
In January 1963, the Shah announced the "White Revolution", a six-point programme of reform calling for land reform, nationalization of the forests, the sale of state-owned enterprises to private interests, electoral changes to enfranchise women and allow non-Muslims to hold office, profit-sharing in industry, and a literacy campaign in the nation's schools. Some of these initiatives were regarded as dangerous, Westernizing trends by traditionalists, especially by the powerful and privileged Shi'a scholars. Ayatollah Khomeini summoned a meeting of the other senior marjas of Qom and persuaded them to decree a boycott of the referendum on the White Revolution. On 22 January 1963 Khomeini issued a strongly worded declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. Two days later the Shah took an armored column to Qom, and delivered a speech harshly attacking the scholars as a class.
Life in exile
Khomeini spent more than 14 years in exile, mostly in the holy Shia city of Najaf, Iraq. Initially he was sent to Turkey on 4 November 1964 Later in October 1965 he was allowed to move to Najaf, Iraq, went to Neauphle-le-Château, suborn of Paris, France on a tourist visa, apparently not seeking political asylum, where he stayed for four months. In the meantime, however, Khomeini was careful not to publicize his ideas for clerical rule outside of his Islamic network of opposition to the Shah which he worked to build and strengthen over the next decade. In Iran, a number of actions of the shah including his repression of opponents began to build opposition to his regime.
Return to Iran
Khomeini had refused to return to Iran until the Shah left. On 17 January 1979, the Shah did leave the country (ostensibly "on vacation"), never to return. Two weeks later, on Thursday, 1 February 1979, Khomeini returned in triumph to Iran.
Establishment of new government
As Khomeini's movement gained momentum soldiers began to defect to his side, and Khomeini declared jihad on soldiers who did not surrender. On 11 February, as revolt spread and armories were taken over, the military declared neutrality and the Bakhtiar regime collapsed. On 30 March 1979, and 31 March 1979, a referendum to replace the monarchy with an Islamic Republic passed with 98% voting in favour of the replacement. In November 1979, the new constitution of the Islamic Republic was adopted by national referendum. Khomeini himself became instituted as the Supreme Leader (supreme jurist ruler), and officially became known as the "Leader of the Revolution.
Khomeini was a prolific writer who authored commentaries on the Qur'an, on Islamic jurisprudence, the roots of Islamic law, and Islamic traditions. He also released books about philosophy, gnosticism, poetry, literature, government and politics.Some of his books:
Authority of the Jurist
The Disciplines of Prayers
The Greater Struggle
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