33rd anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini

Born to Ayatollah Sayyid Mustafa Musawi and Hajieh Agha Khanum, also called Hajar, in the town of Khomein, about 300 kilometers south of Tehran, Iran, possibly on May 17, 1900 or September 24, 1902. Ruhollah al Musawi al Khomeini was a religious and political leader who served as the first supreme leader of the Islamic republic of Iran from 1979 to 1989. Khomeini’s father was murdered when he was five months old, and he was raised by his mother and one of his aunts; both of whom would die in the same year when he was 15 years old.

He was thought in the basic religious sciences as a young boy in his hometown by local clerics and his elder brother till he reached what is an equivalent of a bachelor’s degree before moving to the city of Arak and then to Qom to continue with advanced studies in Islamic theology, jurisprudence, principles of jurisprudence, Mysticism, logic, philosophy, ethics, history and a host more.

He was awarded the highest qualification possible in Islamic religious studies (roughly the equivalent of a doctorate): “ijtihad” which permits an individual to read and to interpret Islamic law and motives from its primary sources (namely, the Quran and transmitted teachings of the prophet and his household) at the age of 23, thereby earning him the title: “Ayatollah”. He continued to teach and to carry out independent research and studies for the rest of his life in addition to later tackling corrupt politics and calling for just reforms to the Iranian monarchy at the time.


Like most religious scholars, Ayatollah Khomeini had no particular active interest in politics until the year 1960 at the age of 60 as he was mainly occupied with the moral and spiritual guidance of the community as well as offering his advice on religious issues. However, When the ‘White Revolution’ proclaimed by the then government of Iran called for land reform, the sale of state-owned enterprises to private interests, and profit sharing in industry; most of these initiatives were identified as a departure from traditional Iranian culture and values as well not serving the national interest.

Ayatollah Khomeini then launched some criticism upon these policies which led to his arrest for the first time, and later exile from Iran. He would spend fourteen years in exile (1 in turkey, 12 in Iraq and almost a year in France.

While in exile, he continued to talk against the policies of the king, as well as teach and deliver religious guidance to millions of followers the world over. He was automatically accepted by almost all Iranians as the natural leader of the people. More pressure mounted on the king and on January 16, 1979 the king fled Iran and never returned. On the 1st of February 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Al Musawi Al Khomeini returned to Iran after 14 years of absence to lead a people who were waiting for their lady.


The greatest achievement of the ayatollah is the Islamic republic of Iran which is entirely founded upon his ideologies and guidance and which continues to live according to his teachings.

He succeeded in bringing the oldest surviving monarchy, which was more than 2000 years old to an end, and its place, he established a state that held all democratic elections and chose its leaders at the polls while safeguarding their cultural and religious identity.

In his capacity as a leader, he called for interfaith dialogues between all religions and also between different sects in a single religion.

He called for total freedom and the protection of the Christians Jews and other minority religious groups that live Iran.

Interfaith Relations: He called for unity between Sunnis and Shias and prohibited disrespecting any of the holy symbols of any religion.

He also instituted the “day of unity” To bring about unity between the various Islamic sects. Also, he called for the establishment of the organization for proximity between religions, which is mandated to ensure understand and tolerance between the world’s major religions.

Peace and Development: it is quoted from the Imam that he said: “there is a report from the Imams that States that, if a Muslim dies out of grieve for a Jew who was unjustly treated, then he died a martyr” Therefore, it is required of all Muslims to protect and defend the lives and rights of all people.

WOMEN, Imam Khomeini paid great attention to women. He called for the inclusion of women in all facets of life: education, health, governance, engineering etc. however, he was also particular about their moral conduct and attention towards religious and traditional female duties, in as much as he was about men in that regard.

He improved the standing of women in Iran as well as return a sense of self pride to Muslims and all downtrodden people across the world.

He also left Iran on a path towards development and national independence. Making Iran an important cultural and religious center of the world with a sound modern technical knowhow

CINEMA: in cinema, the Iman had the following to say: “We don’t say cinema is bad basically. Movies like COW(A culturally important Iranian film of the late seventies) can be culturally educative and upgrade thought and spirit of the audience”

According to the Iranian film director,Dariush Mehrjui: “Imam’s words were decisive for cinema”.

Also,Reza mir Kareemi, another Iranian film director had the following to say about the ImamImam [was] a brave, calm and friendly man”.

In the year 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini was chosen as the ‘man of the’ year by the times magazine of America.


Ayatollah Khomeini taught and mentored several prominent philosophers, jurist and thinkers. Amongsr them:

  1. Murtadha Mutahhari
  2. Muhammed Taqi Mezbah Yazdi
  3. Ali Khamenei
  4. Muhammed Hussein Beheshti
  5. Fadhel Lankarani
  6. Mahmoud Hashemi Rafsanjani amongst others


He was known for his punctuality: “He’s so punctual that if he doesn’t turn up for lunch at exactly ten past everyone will get worried, because his work is regulated in such a way that he turned up for lunch at exactly that time every day. He goes to bed exactly on time. He eats exactly on time. And he wakes up exactly on time. He changes his cloak every time he comes back from the mosque” (According to a daughter quoted in In the Name of God by Robin Wright, 1989, p.45)

He was charismatic, disciplined, gentle, soft spoken, goal oriented, very religious, calm, and intelligent as well as a family man.


Imam Khomeini passed away of heart attack at the age of 89 in 1989. His funeral is in record as been the largest recorded funeral in history. Attended by over 11 million people, and his legacy continues to live on today.

He was married, and left a widow, behind seven children and fifteen grandchildren.


Imam Khomeini authored upwards of 40 books, most of them voluminous. He authored several important books in ethics, jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, governance as well as responding intellectually to polemists who wrote against Islam. Some of the most important books he authored are:

  1. Forty hadith (a collection of transmitted teachings from the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.w.) and his household. This book focuses on morality and righteousness)
  2. Velayat-e Faqih (guardianship of the Islamic jurist.) in this book the imam lays the foundations of establishing an Islamic state that is led by a just and unselfish religious leader while upholding the rights of the people to elect an executive wing and to have parliamentary representation.
  3. Adab-e Salat (The Disciplines of Prayers) explaining the benefits and philosophy behind the muslim daily prayers.     
  4. Jihad-e Akbar (The Greater Struggle) in this book, the imam identifies human evil inclinations as the greatest enemy, and to fight to conquer such bad habits as the greatest struggle in each individual’s life and as the most loved act of worship in the sight of god.
  5. Tahrir al-Wasilah, a manual that guides Muslims in their daily activities according to Islamic tenets.
  6. Interpretation of Surah Fatihah (a seven versed chapter in the quran that is recited in every muslim prayer)
  7. Serr al-Salat (Secrets of Prayers)
  8. Interpretation of Dawn Pray
  9. Interpretation of Forces of Reason and Negligence Tradition
  10. Hajj

Written by the Al Mustafa Research and Resource Center for Interfaith dialogue and Peace (ARRIPS)

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