|Birth Day:||September 24, 1902|
|Death Date:||Jun 3, 1989 (age 86)|
|Birth Place:||Khomeyn, Iran|
As per our current Database, Ayatollah Khomeini died on Jun 3, 1989 (age 86).
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Prior to his political career, he worked as a lecturer at Najaf and Qom seminaries.
Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, whose first name means "spirit of Allah", was born on 24 September 1902 in Khomeyn, Markazi Province. He was raised by his mother, Hajieh Agha Khanum, and his aunt, Sahebeth, following the murder of his father, Mustapha Musavi, five months after his birth in 1903.
After World War I arrangements were made for him to study at the Islamic seminary in Isfahan, but he was attracted instead to the seminary in Arak. He was placed under the leadership of Ayatollah Abdul Karim Haeri Yazdi. In 1920, Khomeini moved to Arak and commenced his studies. The following year, Ayatollah Haeri Yazdi transferred to the Islamic seminary in the holy city of Qom, southwest of Tehran, and invited his students to follow. Khomeini accepted the invitation, moved, and took up residence at the Dar al-Shafa school in Qom. Khomeini's studies included Islamic law (sharia) and jurisprudence (fiqh), but by that time, Khomeini had also acquired an interest in poetry and philosophy (irfan). So, upon arriving in Qom, Khomeini sought the guidance of Mirza Ali Akbar Yazdi, a scholar of philosophy and mysticism. Yazdi died in 1924, but Khomeini continued to pursue his interest in philosophy with two other teachers, Javad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi and Rafi'i Qazvini. However, perhaps Khomeini's biggest influences were another teacher, Mirza Muhammad 'Ali Shahabadi, and a variety of historic Sufi mystics, including Mulla Sadra and Ibn Arabi.
Inaugurating his teaching career at the age of 27 by giving private lessons on irfan and Mulla Sadra to a private circle, around the same time, in 1928, he also released his first publication, Sharh Du'a al-Sahar (Commentary on the Du'a al-Baha), "a detailed commentary, in Arabic, on the prayer recited before dawn during Ramadan by Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq", followed, some years later, by Sirr al-Salat (Secret of the Prayer), where "the symbolic dimensions and inner meaning of every part of the prayer, from the ablution that precedes it to the salam that concludes it, are expounded in a rich, complex, and eloquent language that owes much to the concepts and terminology of Ibn 'Arabi. As Sayyid Fihri, the editor and translator of Sirr al-Salat, has remarked, the work is addressed only to the foremost among the spiritual elite (akhass-i khavass) and establishes its author as one of their number." The second book has been translated by Sayyid Amjad Hussain Shah Naqavi and released by BRILL in 2015, under the title "The Mystery of Prayer: The Ascension of the Wayfarers and the Prayer of the Gnostics".
In 1929, Khomeini married Khadijeh Saqafi, the daughter of a cleric in Tehran. Some sources claim that Khomeini married Saqafi when she was ten years old, while others claim she was fifteen years old. By all accounts their marriage was harmonious and happy. She died in 2009. They had seven children, though only five survived infancy. His daughters all married into either merchant or clerical families, and both his sons entered into religious life. Mostafa, the elder son, died in 1977 while in exile in Najaf, Iraq with his father and was rumored by supporters of his father to have been murdered by SAVAK. Ahmad Khomeini, who died in 1995 at the age of 50, was also rumoured to be a victim of foul play, but at the hands of the regime. Perhaps his "most prominent daughter", Zahra Mostafavi, is a professor at the University of Tehran, and still alive.
His seminary teaching often focused on the importance of religion to practical social and political issues of the day, and he worked against secularism in the 1940s. His first political book, Kashf al-Asrar (Uncovering of Secrets) published in 1942, was a point-by-point refutation of Asrar-e hezar sale (Secrets of a Thousand Years), a tract written by a disciple of Iran's leading anti-clerical historian, Ahmad Kasravi, as well as a condemnation of innovations such as international time zones, and the banning of hijab by Reza Shah. In addition, he went from Qom to Tehran to listen to Ayatullah Hasan Mudarris, the leader of the opposition majority in Iran's parliament during the 1920s. Khomeini became a marja' in 1963, following the death of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Husayn Borujerdi.
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, especially by the powerful and privileged Shi'a ulama (religious scholars), and as Westernizing trends by traditionalists (Khomeini viewed them as "an attack on Islam"). 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 ulama as a class.
On 5 June 1963 (15 of Khordad) at 3:00 am, two days after this public denunciation of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Khomeini was detained in Qom and transferred to Tehran. Following this action, there were three days of major riots throughout Iran and the deaths of some 400 people. That event is now referred to as the Movement of 15 Khordad. Khomeini was kept under house arrest and released in August.
In 1963, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wrote a book in which he stated that there is no religious restriction on corrective surgery for transgender individuals. At the time Khomeini was an anti-Shah revolutionary and his fatwas did not carry any weight with the Imperial government, which did not have any specific policies regarding transsexual individuals. However, after 1979, his fatwa "formed the basis for a national policy" and perhaps in part because of a penal code that "allows for the execution of homosexuals", as of 2005 Iran "permits and partly finances seven times as many gender reassignment operation as the entire European Union".
On 26 October 1964, Khomeini denounced both the Shah and the United States. This time it was in response to the "capitulations" or diplomatic immunity granted by the Shah to American military personnel in Iran. The "capitulation" law (or "status-of-forces agreement") allowed members of the U.S. armed forces in Iran to be tried in their own military courts. Khomeini was arrested in November 1964 and held for half a year. Upon his release, he was brought before Prime Minister Hasan Ali Mansur, who tried to convince Khomeini that he should apologize and drop his opposition to the government. When Khomeini refused, Mansur slapped Khomeini's face in a fit of rage. Two months later, Mansur was assassinated on his way to parliament. Four members of the Fadayan-e Islam were later executed for the murder.
Khomeini spent more than 14 years in exile, mostly in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf. Initially, he was sent to Turkey on 4 November 1964 where he stayed in Bursa in the home of Colonel Ali Cetiner of the Turkish Military Intelligence. In October 1965, after less than a year, he was allowed to move to Najaf, Iraq, where he stayed until 1978, when he was expelled by then-Vice President Saddam Hussein. By this time discontent with the Shah was becoming intense and Khomeini visited Neauphle-le-Château, a suburb of Paris, France on a tourist visa on 6 October 1978.
By the late 1960s, Khomeini was a marja-e taqlid (model for imitation) for "hundreds of thousands" of Shia, one of six or so models in the Shia world. While in the 1940s Khomeini accepted the idea of a limited monarchy under the Iranian Constitution of 1906–07 – as evidenced by his book Kashf al-Asrar – by the 1970s he had rejected the idea. In early 1970, Khomeini gave a series of lectures in Najaf on Islamic government, later published as a book titled variously Islamic Government or Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist (Hokumat-e Islami: Velayat-e faqih).
Opposition groups claimed that Khomeini's provisional constitution for the Islamic Republic did not first include the post of supreme Islamic clerical ruler. The Islamic government was defined by Khomeini in his book Hokumat-e Islami: Velayat-e faqih (Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist) which was published while Khomeini was in exile in 1970, smuggled into Iran, and distributed to Khomeini's supporters. This book included Khomeini's notion of wilayat al-faqih (Governance of the Jurist) as well as the reasoning and in his view, the necessity of it in running an Islamic state.
After the 1977 death of Ali Shariati (an Islamic reformist and political revolutionary author/academic/philosopher who greatly assisted the Islamic revival among young educated Iranians), Khomeini became the most influential leader of the opposition to the Shah. Adding to his mystique was the circulation among Iranians in the 1970s of an old Shia saying attributed to the Imam Musa al-Kadhem. Prior to his death in 799, al-Kadhem was said to have prophesied that "A man will come out from Qom and he will summon people to the right path". In late 1978, a rumour swept the country that Khomeini's face could be seen in the full moon. Millions of people were said to have seen it and the event was celebrated in thousands of mosques. He was perceived by many Iranians as the spiritual as well as political leader of the revolt. Additionally, the episode with Khomeini's face in the moon showed that in late 1978 he was increasingly regarded as a messianic figure in Iran.
Khomeini was not allowed to return to Iran during the Shah's reign (as he had been in exile). On 16 January 1979, the Shah left the country for medical treatment (ostensibly "on vacation"), never to return. Two weeks later, on Thursday, 1 February 1979, Khomeini returned in triumph to Iran, welcomed by a joyous crowd estimated (by the BBC) to be of up to five million people. On his chartered Air France flight back to Tehran, he was accompanied by 120 journalists, including three women. One of the journalists, Peter Jennings, asked: "Ayatollah, would you be so kind as to tell us how you feel about being back in Iran?" Khomeini answered via his aide Sadegh Ghotbzadeh: "Hichi" (Nothing). This statement—much discussed at the time and since—was considered by some reflective of his mystical beliefs and non-attachment to ego. Others considered it a warning to Iranians who hoped he would be a "mainstream nationalist leader" that they were in for disappointment.
In November 1979, the new constitution of the Islamic Republic was adopted by national referendum. Khomeini himself became instituted as the Supreme Leader (Guardian Jurist), and officially became known as the "Leader of the Revolution." On 4 February 1980, Abolhassan Banisadr was elected as the first president of Iran. Critics complain that Khomeini had gone back on his word to advise, rather than rule the country.
On 22 October 1979, the United States admitted the exiled and ailing Shah into the country for cancer treatment. In Iran, there was an immediate outcry, with both Khomeini and leftist groups demanding the Shah's return to Iran for trial and execution.
In a speech on 1 February 1979 delivered to a huge crowd after returning to Iran from exile, Khomeini made a variety of promises to Iranians for his coming Islamic regime: a popularly elected government that would represent the people of Iran and with which the clergy would not interfere. He promised that "no one should remain homeless in this country," and that Iranians would have free telephone, heating, electricity, bus services and free oil at their doorstep.
Under Khomeini's rule, Sharia (Islamic law) was introduced, with the Islamic dress code enforced for both men and women by Islamic Revolutionary Guards and other Islamic groups. Women were required to cover their hair, and men were not allowed to wear shorts. Alcoholic drinks, most Western movies, and the practice of men and women swimming or sunbathing together were banned. The Iranian educational curriculum was Islamized at all levels with the Islamic Cultural Revolution; the "Committee for Islamization of Universities" carried this out thoroughly. The broadcasting of any music other than martial or religious on Iranian radio and television was banned by Khomeini in July 1979. The ban lasted 10 years (approximately the rest of his life).
Shortly after his accession as supreme leader in February 1979, Khomeini imposed capital punishment on homosexuals. Between February and March, sixteen Iranians were executed due to offenses related to sexual violations. Khomeini also created the "Revolutionary Tribunals". According to historian Ervand Abrahamian, Khomeini encouraged the clerical courts to continue implementing their version of the Shari’a. As part of the campaign to "cleanse" the society, these courts executed over 100 drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals, rapists, and adulterers on the charge of "sowing corruption on earth." According to author Arno Schmitt, "Khomeini asserted that 'homosexuals' had to be exterminated because they were parasites and corruptors of the nation by spreading the 'stain of wickedness.'" Transsexuality was designated by Khomeini as a sickness that was able to be cured through surgery. In 1979, he had declared that the execution of homosexuals (as well as prostitutes and adulterers) was reasonable in a moral civilization in the same sense as cutting off decayed skin.
In a talk at the Fayzieah School in Qom on 30 August 1979, Khomeini warned pro-imperialist opponents: "Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. They are worse than Bani-Ghorizeh Jews, and they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God's order and God's call to prayer."
Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians are officially recognized and protected by the government. Shortly after Khomeini's return from exile in 1979, he issued a fatwa ordering that Jews and other minorities (except those of the Baháʼí Faith) be treated well. In power, Khomeini distinguished between Zionism as a secular political party that employs Jewish symbols and ideals and Judaism as the religion of Moses.
One non-Muslim group treated differently were the 300,000 members of the Baháʼí Faith. Starting in late 1979 the new government systematically targeted the leadership of the Baháʼí community by focusing on the Baháʼí National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) and Local Spiritual Assemblies (LSAs); prominent members of NSAs and LSAs were often detained and even executed. "Some 200 of whom have been executed and the rest forced to convert or subjected to the most horrendous disabilities."
After the Shah left Iran in 1979, a Kurdish delegation traveled to Qom to present the Kurds' demands to Khomeini. Their demands included language rights and the provision for a degree of political autonomy. Khomeini responded that such demands were unacceptable since it involved the division of the Iranian nation. The following months saw numerous clashes between Kurdish militia groups and the Revolutionary Guards. The referendum on the Islamic Republic was massively boycotted in Kurdistan, where it was thought 85 to 90% of voters abstained. Khomeini ordered additional attacks later on in the year, and by September most of Iranian Kurdistan was under direct martial law.
The crisis had the effect of splitting of the opposition into two groups – radicals supporting the hostage taking, and the moderates opposing it. On 23 February 1980, Khomeini proclaimed Iran's Majlis would decide the fate of the American embassy hostages, and demanded that the United States hand over the Shah for trial in Iran for crimes against the nation. Although the Shah died a few months later, during the summer, the crisis continued. In Iran, supporters of Khomeini named the embassy a "Den of Espionage", publicizing details regarding armaments, espionage equipment and many volumes of official and classified documents which they found there.
In September 1980, Iraq launched a full-scale invasion of Iran, beginning the Iran–Iraq War (September 1980 – August 1988). A combination of fierce resistance by Iranians and military incompetence by Iraqi forces soon stalled the Iraqi advance and, despite Saddam's internationally condemned use of poison gas, Iran had by early 1982 regained almost all of the territory lost to the invasion. The invasion rallied Iranians behind the new regime, enhancing Khomeini's stature and allowing him to consolidate and stabilize his leadership. After this reversal, Khomeini refused an Iraqi offer of a truce, instead demanding reparations and the toppling of Saddam Hussein from power. In 1982, there was an attempted military coup against Khomeini. The Iran–Iraq War ended in 1988, with 320,000–720,000 Iranian soldiers and militia killed.
Khomeini believed in Muslim unity and solidarity and the export of his revolution throughout the world. He believed Shia and (the significantly more numerous) Sunni Muslims should be "united and stand firmly against Western and arrogant powers." "Establishing the Islamic state world-wide belong to the great goals of the revolution." He declared the birth week of Muhammad (the week between 12th to 17th of Rabi' al-awwal) as the Unity week. Then he declared the last Friday of Ramadan as International Day of Quds in 1981.
However, in 1983, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped him by providing a list of Soviet KGB agents and collaborators operating in Iran to Khomeini, who then executed up to 200 suspects and closed down the Communist Tudeh Party of Iran.
Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, a former student of Khomeini and a major figure of the Revolution, was chosen by Khomeini to be his successor as Supreme Leader and approved as such by the Assembly of Experts in November 1985. The principle of velayat-e faqih and the Islamic constitution called for the Supreme Leader to be a marja (a grand ayatollah), and of the dozen or so grand ayatollahs living in 1981 only Montazeri qualified as a potential Leader (this was either because only he accepted totally Khomeini's concept of rule by Islamic jurists, or, as at least one other source stated, because only Montazeri had the "political credentials" Khomeini found suitable for his successor). The execution of Mehdi Hashemi in September 1987 on charges of counterrevolutionary activities was a blow to Ayatollah Montazeri, who knew Hashemi since their childhood. In 1989 Montazeri began to call for liberalization, freedom for political parties. Following the execution of thousands of political prisoners by the Islamic government, Montazeri told Khomeini: "Your prisons are far worse than those of the Shah and his SAVAK." After a letter of his complaints was leaked to Europe and broadcast on the BBC, a furious Khomeini ousted him in March 1989 from his position as official successor. His portraits were removed from offices and mosques.
In July 1988, Khomeini, in his words, "drank the cup of poison" and accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. Despite the high cost of the war – 450,000 to 950,000 Iranian casualties and US$300 billion – Khomeini insisted that extending the war into Iraq in an attempt to overthrow Saddam had not been a mistake. In a "Letter to Clergy" he wrote: "... we do not repent, nor are we sorry for even a single moment for our performance during the war. Have we forgotten that we fought to fulfill our religious duty and that the result is a marginal issue?"
In the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners, following the People's Mujahedin of Iran unsuccessful operation Forough-e Javidan against the Islamic Republic, Khomeini issued an order to judicial officials to judge every Iranian political prisoner (mostly but not all Mujahedin) and kill those judged to be apostates from Islam (mortad) or "waging war on God" (moharebeh). Almost all of those interrogated were killed, around 30,000 of them. Because of the large number, prisoners were loaded into forklift trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes in half-hour intervals.
In early 1989, Khomeini issued a fatwā calling for the assassination of Salman Rushdie, an India-born British author. Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, published in 1988, was alleged to commit blasphemy against Islam and Khomeini's juristic ruling (fatwā) prescribed Rushdie's assassination by any Muslim. The fatwā required not only Rushdie's execution, but also the execution of "all those involved in the publication" of the book.
Khomeini's health declined several years prior to his death. After spending eleven days in Jamaran hospital, Ruhollah Khomeini died on 3 June 1989 after suffering five heart attacks in just ten days, at the age of 86 just before midnight. He was succeeded as Supreme Leader by Ali Khamenei. Large numbers of Iranians took to the streets to publicly mourn his death and in the scorching summer heat, fire trucks sprayed water on the crowds to cool them. At least 10 mourners were trampled to death, more than 400 were badly hurt and several thousand more were treated for injuries sustained in the ensuing pandemonium.
According to Iran's official estimates, 10.2 million people lined the 32-kilometre (20 mi) route to Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery on 11 June 1989, for the funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Western agencies estimated that 2 million paid their respects as the body lay in state.
To deal with the disqualification of the only suitable marja, Khomeini called for an 'Assembly for Revising the Constitution' to be convened. An amendment was made to Iran's constitution removing the requirement that the Supreme Leader be a Marja and this allowed Ali Khamenei, the new favoured jurist who had suitable revolutionary credentials but lacked scholarly ones and who was not a Grand Ayatollah, to be designated as successor. Ayatollah Khamenei was elected Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts on 4 June 1989. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Montazeri continued his criticism of the regime and in 1997 was put under house arrest for questioning what he regarded to be an unaccountable rule exercised by the supreme leader.
The second funeral was held under much tighter security five hours later. This time, Khomeini's casket was made of steel, and in accordance with Islamic tradition, the casket was only to carry the body to the burial site. In 1995, his son Ahmad was buried next to him. Khomeini's grave is now housed within a larger mausoleum complex.
Currently, Ayatollah Khomeini is 120 years, 8 months and 15 days old. Ayatollah Khomeini will celebrate 121st birthday on a Sunday 24th of September 2023.
Find out about Ayatollah Khomeini birthday activities in timeline view here.