Ayatollah Khomeini was the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The only leader in the Muslim world who combined political and religious authority as a head of state, he took office in 1979.
Early life and education
Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was born on September 24, 1902, according to most sources. The title Ayatollah (the Sign of God) reflected his scholarly religious standing in the Shia Islamic tradition. His first name, Ruhollah (the Spirit of God), is a common name in spite of its religious meaning, and his last name is taken from his birthplace, the town of Khomein, which is about 200 miles south of Tehran, Iran's capital city. His father, Mustapha Musavi, was the chief cleric (those with religious authority) of the town and was murdered only five months after the birth of Ruhollah. The child was raised by his mother (Hajar) and aunt (Sahebeh), both of whom died when Ruhollah was about fifteen years old.
Ayatollah Khomeini's life after childhood went through three different phases. The first phase, from 1908 to 1962, was marked mainly by training, teaching, and writing in the field of Islamic studies. At the age of six he began to study the Koran, Islam's holy book, and also elementary Persian, an ancient language of Iran. Later, he completed his studies in Islamic law, ethics, and spiritual philosophy under the supervision of Ayatollah Abdul Karim Haeri-ye Yazdi, in Qom, where he also got married and had two sons and three daughters. Although during this scholarly phase of his life Khomeini was not politically active, the nature of his studies, teachings, and writings revealed that he firmly believed in political activism by clerics (religious leaders).
Preparation for political leadership
The second phase of Khomeini's life, from 1962 to 1979, was marked by political activism which was greatly influenced by his strict, religious interpretation of Shia Islam. He practically launched his fight against the shah's...