Day 54 - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini (Persian سید روحاللّه مصطفوی موسوی خمینی, known in the West as Ayatollah Khomeini,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, which he held until his death.
Khomeini was a marja ("source of emulation") in Twelver Shi'a Islam, author of more than forty books, but is primarily known for his political activities. He spent more than 15 years in exile for his opposition to the last 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) was installed in the new Iranian constitution after being put to a referendum.
He was named Man of the Year in 1979 by American news magazine TIME for his international influence, and has been described as the "virtual face of Islam in Western popular culture." He was known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iran hostage crisis and his fatwa calling for the death of British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie.
Khomeini has been criticized by many in Western countries and elsewhere for these acts and for human rights violations of Iranians; he has been accused of pursuing a mass campaign against political opponents as well as their families, close friends, and anyone who was accused of counterrevolutionary and reactionary behavior (including Sunni Muslims and Bahai's), resulting in the imprisonment and death of thousands (many of whom had ties to groups such as the MKO) as well as in 1988, when he was said to have ordered the execution of thousands of political prisoners. Nevertheless he has been lauded as a "charismatic leader of immense popularity", and a "champion of Islamic revival" by some Shia scholars.
Khomeini held the title of Grand Ayatollah and is officially known as Imam Khomeini inside Iran and by his supporters internationally, and generally referred to as Ayatollah Khomeini by others.