Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was born on 24 September 1902 (20 Jamadi al-Akhir 1320), the birth anniversary of Hazrat Fatima (SA), in the small town of Khomein, some 160 kilometers to the southwest of Qom. He was the child of a family with a long tradition of religious scholarship.

His ancestors, descendants of Imam Musa Kazim (AS), the seventh Imam of Muslims, had migrated towards the end of the eighteenth century from their original home in Neyshabur, Iranian province of Khorasan, to the Lucknow region of northern India. There they settled and devoted themselves to religious instruction and guidance of the Shiites.

 

Imam Khomeini's grandfather, Seyyed Ahmad, left Lucknow (according to a statement of Imam Khomeini's elder brother, Seyyed Morteza Pasandideh, his point of departure was Kashmir, not Lucknow) some time in the middle of the nineteenth century on pilgrimage to the tomb of Hazrat Ali (AS) in Najaf. While in Najaf, Seyyed Ahmad met Yusef Khan, a prominent citizen of Khomein. Accepting his invitation, he decided to settle in Khomein to assume responsibility for the religious needs of its citizens and also took Yusef Khan's daughter in marriage.

 

Seyyed Ahmad, by the time of death, the date of which is unknown, had two children: a daughter by the name of Sahiba, and Seyyed Mostafa, born in 1885, the father of Imam Khomeini. Seyyed Mostafa began his religious education in Isfahan and continued his advanced studies in Najaf and Samarra (this corresponded to a pattern of preliminary study in Iran followed by advanced study in the "Atabat", the holy cities of Iraq; Imam Khomeini was in fact the first religious leader of prominence whose formation took place entirely in Iran). After accomplishing his advanced studies, he returned to Khomein, and then married with Hajar, mother of Imam Khomeini.

 

In March 1903, when Imam Khomeini was just 5 months old, he lost his father. And in 1918, he lost both his aunt, Sahiba, who had played a great role in his early upbringing, and his mother, Hajar. Responsibility for the family was then delegated to his eldest brother, Seyyed Morteza (later to be known as Ayatollah Pasandideh).

 

The Imam Khomeini began his education by memorizing the Holy Qur’an at a maktab (traditional religious school). In 1920-21, Seyyed Morteza sent the late Imam Khomeini to the city of Arak (or Sultanabad, as it was then known) in order for him to benefit from the more ample educational resources available there.

 

In 1923, Imam Khomeini arrived in Qom and devoted himself to completing the preliminary stage of madrasa.

 

The emphases of the Imam Khomeini's activity began on March 31, 1961, for he now emerged as one of the successors to Ayatollah Borujerdi's position of leadership. This emergence was signaled by the publication of some of his writings on fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), most importantly the basic handbook of religious practice entitled, like others of its genre, Tozih al-Masa’il. He was soon accepted as source of emulation by a large number of Iranian Shiites.

 

In the autumn of 1962, the government promulgated new laws governing elections to local and provincial councils, which deleted the former requirement that those elected be sworn into office on the Qur’an. Seeing in this a plan to permit the infiltration of public life by the Baha'is, Imam Khomeini telegraphed both the deposed Mohammad Reza Shah and the then prime minister, warning them to desist from violating both the law of Islam and the Iranian Constitution of 1907, failing which the Ulama (religious scholars) would engage in a sustained campaign of protest.

 

In January 1963, the Shah announced a six-point program of reform called the White Revolution, an American-inspired package of measures designed to give his regime a so-called liberal and progressive facade. Imam Khomeini summoned a meeting of his colleagues in Qom to press upon them the necessity of opposing the Shah's plans. They sent Ayatollah Kamalvand to see the Shah and gauge his intentions. Although the Shah showed no inclination to retreat or compromise, it took further pressure by Imam Khomeini on the other senior Ulama of Qom to persuade them to decree a boycott of the referendum that the Shah had planned to obtain the appearance of popular approval for his White Revolution. Imam Khomeini issued on January 22, 1963 a strongly-worded declaration denouncing the Shah and his plans. Two days later, the Shah took armored column to Qom, and he delivered a speech harshly attacking the 'Ulama' as a class.

 

Imam Khomeini continued his denunciation of the Shah's programs, issuing a manifesto that also bore the signatures of eight other senior scholars. In it, he listed the various ways in which the Shah had violated the constitution, condemned the spread of moral corruption in the country, and accused the Shah of comprehensive submission to America and Israel. He also decreed that the Nowruz celebrations for the Iranian year 1342 (which fell on March 21, 1963) be cancelled as a sign of protest against government policies.

 

On the afternoon of Ashura (June 3, 1963), Imam Khomeini delivered a speech at the Feyziyeh Madrasa in which he drew parallels between the Umayyad caliph Yazid and the Shah and warned the Shah that if he did not change his ways, the day would come when the people would offer up thanks for his departure from the country. The immediate effect of the Imam's speech was, however, his arrest two days later at 3 o'clock in the morning by a group of commandos who hastily transferred him to the Qasr prison in Tehran. As dawn broke on June 3, the news of his arrest spread first through Qom and then to other cities. In Qom, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad and Varamin, masses of angry demonstrators were confronted by tanks and paratroopers. It was not until six days later that order was fully restored. This uprising of 15 Khordad 1342 (June 4, 1963) marked a turning point in Iranian history.

 

After nineteen days in the Qasr prison, Imam Khomeini was moved first to Eshratabad Military Base and then to a house in Davudiyeh, a district of Tehran where he was kept under surveillance.

 

He was released on April 7, 1964, and returned to Qom.

 

The Shah's regime continued its pro-American policies and in the autumn of 1964, it concluded an agreement with the United States that provided immunity from prosecution for all American personnel in Iran and their dependents. This occasioned Imam Khomeini to deliver a speech against the Shah. He denounced the agreement as surrender of Iranian independence and sovereignty, made in exchange for a $200 million loan that would be of benefit only to the Shah and his associates, and described as traitors all those in the Majlis who voted in favor of it; the government lacked all legitimacy, he concluded.

 

Shortly before dawn on November 4, 1964, again commandos surrounded Imam Khomeini’s house in Qom, arrested him, and this time took him directly to Mehrabad airport in Tehran for immediate exile to Turkey on the hope that in exile he would fade from popular memory. Turkish law forbade Imam Khomeini to wear the cloak and turban of the Muslim scholar. However, on September 5, 1965, Imam Khomeini left Turkey for Najaf in Iraq, where he was destined to spend thirteen years.

 

Once settled in Najaf, Imam Khomeini began teaching fiqh at the Sheikh Morteza Ansari Madrasa. At this madrasa, he delivered, between January 21 and February 8, 1970, his lectures on Velayat-e faqih, the theory of governance and Islamic Leadership (the text of these lectures was published in Najaf, not long after their delivery, under the title Velayat-e faqih ya Hukumat-i Islami). The text of the lectures on Velayat-e faqih was smuggled back to Iran by visitors who came to see the Imam in Najaf.

 

The most visible sign of the popularity of Imam Khomeini in the pre-revolutionary years, above all at the heart of the religious institution in Qom, came in June 1975 on the anniversary of the uprising of 15 Khordad. Students at the Feyziyeh Madrasa staged a demonstration within the confines of the building, and a sympathetic crowd assembled outside. Both gatherings continued for three days until they were attacked military forces, with numerous deaths resulting. Imam Khomeini reacted with a message in which he declared the events in Qom and similar disturbances elsewhere to be a sign of hope that "freedom and liberation from the bonds of imperialism" were at hand. The beginning of the revolution came indeed some two and a half years later.

 

In January 7, 1978, when an article appeared in the newspaper Et’tela'at attacking him in such terms as a traitor working together with foreign enemies of the country. The next day a furious mass protest took place in Qom; it was suppressed by the security forces with heavy loss of life. This was the first in a series of popular confrontations that, gathering momentum throughout 1978, soon turned into a vast revolutionary movement, demanding the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime and the installation of an Islamic government.

 

The Shah decided to seek the deportation of Imam Khomeini from Iraq, the agreement of the Iraqi government was obtained at a meeting between the Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministers in New York, and on September 24, 1978, Imam Khomeini's house in Najaf was surrounded by troops. He was informed that his continued residence in Iraq was contingent on his abandoning political activity, a condition he rejected. On October 3, he left Iraq for Kuwait, but was refused entry at the border. After a period of hesitation in which Algeria, Lebanon and Syria were considered as possible destinations, Imam Khomeini set off for Paris. Once he arrived in Paris, Imam Khomeini took up residence in the suburb of Neauphle-le-Chateau in a house that had been rented for him by Iranian expatriates in France. From now on, the journalists from across the world now made their way to France, and the image and the words of Imam Khomeini soon became a daily feature in the world's media.

 

On January 3, 1979, Shapur Bakhtiyar of the National Front (Jabhe-ye Melli) was appointed prime minister to replace General Az’hari. And on January 16, the Shah left Iran.

 

Imam Khomeini embarked on a chartered airliner of Air France on the evening of January 31 and arrived in Tehran the following morning. He was welcomed by a very popular joy. On February 5, he introduced Mahdi Bazargan as interim prime minister (yet Bakhtiyar was appointed prime minister of Shah).

 

On February 10, Imam Khomeini ordered that the curfew should be defied. The next day the Supreme Military Council withdrew its support from Bakhtiyar, and on February 12, 1979, following the sporadic street gunfight all organs of the regime, political, administrative, and military, finally collapsed. The revolution had triumphed.

 

On March 30 and 31, a nationwide referendum resulted in a massive vote in favor of the establishment of an Islamic Republic. Imam Khomeini proclaimed the next day, April 1, 1979, as the "first day of God's government". With the establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran, he became Supreme Leader (Vali-e Faqih).

 

He settled in Qom but on January 23, 1980, Imam Khomeini was brought from Qom to Tehran to receive heart treatment. After thirty-nine days in hospital, he took up residence in the north Tehran suburb of Darband, and on April 22, he moved into a modest house in Jamaran, another suburb to the north of the capital. A closely guarded compound grew up around the house, and it was there that he spent the rest of his life.

 

Imam Khomeini, on June 3, 1989, after eleven days in hospital for an operation to stop internal bleeding, lapsed into a critical condition and died.

 

MMS/IS

END

MNA

 

News Code 6088

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