Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah

Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah

(khōmā`nē), 1900–1989, Iranian ShiiteShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
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 religious leader. Educated in Islam at home and in theological schools, in the 1950s he was designated ayatollah, a supreme religious leader, in the Iranian Shiite community. Khomeini's criticisms of Reza Shah PahleviReza Shah Pahlevi
, 1878–1944, shah of Iran (1925–41). He began his career as an army officer and gained a reputation for valor and leadership. He headed a coup in 1921 and became prime minister of the new regime in 1923.
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 led to his exile in 1964. Settling in Iraq, Khomeini continued his outspoken denunciations, developing a strong religious and political following abroad, until forced to leave (1978) by Saddam HusseinHussein, Saddam
, 1937–2006, Iraqi political leader. A member of the Ba'ath party, he fled Iraq after participating (1959) in an assassination attempt on the country's prime minister; in Egypt he attended law school.
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; he then moved to France. Following the revolution that deposed Muhammad Reza Shah PahleviMuhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi
, 1919–80, shah of Iran (1941–79). Educated in Switzerland, he returned (1935) to Iran to attend the military academy in Tehran. He ascended the throne in 1941 after his father, Reza Shah Pahlevi, suspected of collaboration with the
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, Khomeini returned triumphantly to Iran in 1979, declared an Islamic republic, and began to exercise ultimate authority in the nation. His conservative ideology opposed pro-Western tendencies. Khomeini's rule was marked by the Iran hostage crisisIran hostage crisis,
in U.S. history, events following the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran by Iranian students on Nov. 4, 1979. The overthrow of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi of Iran by an Islamic revolutionary government earlier in the year had led to a steady
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 and the Iran-Iraq WarIran-Iraq War,
1980–88, protracted military conflict between Iran and Iraq. It officially began on Sept. 22, 1980, with an Iraqi land and air invasion of western Iran, although Iraqi spokespersons maintained that Iran had been engaging in artillery attacks on Iraqi towns
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.

Bibliography

See biography by B. Moin (2000).

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