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Imam Khomeyni

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Biography

Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (Persian: روح‌اللّه مصطفوی موسوی خمینی, Persian pronunciation: [ruːholˈlɑːhe muːsæˈviːje xomeiˈniː], 24 September 1902[1][2][3] – 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, 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, author of more than 40 books, but is most famous for his political role. He spent more than 15 years in exile for his opposition to the shah. 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 the Islamic jurists. This principle (though not known to the wider public before the revolution[4] [5]) was installed in the new Iranian constitution[6] after being put to a referendum[7].

He was named Man of the Year in 1979 by American newsmagazine TIME[8] and has been described as the “virtual face of Islam in Western popular culture,”[9] where he was known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iranian hostage crisis[10] and his fatwa calling for the death of British citizen Salman Rushdie.[11][8]

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