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Imam Khomeini, paragon of courage and wisdom
Thu, 03 Jun 2010 13:36:52 GMT
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By H. Ghavidel

They say that every few centuries, the world witnesses the birth of a great leader. One, who with his courage, charisma and wisdom unites the people, guides them and delivers them from injustice.

One such leader was born in the Iranian city of Khomein on Sep. 24, 1902, coinciding with the auspicious birth anniversary of Fatima Zahra (PBUH), the daughter of the holy Prophet of Islam Mohammad (PBUH).

Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini, who came to be known as Imam Khomeini, changed the lives of Iranians and inspired countless others in the world by guiding one of the greatest revolutionary movements of modern history to victory.

Like many other great leaders, Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini was forced to endure the hardships of life from an early age. Losing his father, Seyyed Mustafa, when he was five months old, he was left in the care of his older brother, Seyyed Morteza, when his mother passed away in 1918.

Coming from a family of scholars who for generations had devoted their lives to offering religious guidance to the hungry-for-knowledge population, young Rouhollah began his education by memorizing the holy Qur'an and was later sent to Arak (1920-21) and finally Qom (1923) to complete his religious studies.

During the 1930's, Imam Khomeini did not engage in political activities, as he believed that the leading religious scholar of the time, Ayatollah Haeri, should have leadership of political activities. Instead, he dedicated his time to teaching Islamic jurisprudence in Qom, gathering around him students such as Ayatollahs Morteza Motahari and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Bahonar, who would later become important figures in spreading his message and in the movement, which led to the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty.

Ayatollah Khomeini gradually entered the political arena after becoming a Shia Source of Emulation and with the passing of Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi in 1961.

When in 1962, the government enforced new election laws, which negated the former requirement for newly elected officials to be sworn into office on the holy Qur'an, Ayatollah Khomeini warned the Pahlavi monarch, Mohammad-Reza Shah, against violating the laws of Islam and the Iranian Constitution of 1907.

He cautioned the second Pahlavi that such a move would only lead to a protest campaign headed by the clergy.

In order to give his regime a liberal and progressive façade, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi introduced a US-inspired reform package in January 1963 that was to be put to referendum and dubbed it as his White Revolution.

Ayatollah Khomeini issued a strongly-worded pronouncement on January 22, 1963 in which he censured the Shah and his White Revolution and announced that the senior religious figures of Qom would be boycotting the referendum.

In a later proclamation, Ayatollah Khomeini condemned the spread of moral corruption in the country, and accused the Shah of violating the constitution and subservience to the US and Israel.

Ayatollah Khomeini also decreed that in protest to the policies pursued by the Pahlavi monarch, the Persian New Year celebrations, Nowruz, which fell on March 21, 1963, would be canceled that year.

On June 3rd 1963, coinciding with Ashura, Ayatollah Khomeini forever changed history by delivering a speech of paramount importance in which he openly criticized the Shah's regime for its dependence on foreign powers and its unconditional support of Israel.

In his fiery speech at the Feyziyeh School of Islamic studies, Ayatollah Khomeini drew parallels between Yazid I, the man behind the Karbala massacre, and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

He warned Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that should he persist in his tyrannical ways he would be embarking on a path of no return and that there would come a day when Iranians would celebrate his departure from the country.

Two days after this speech, the Shah made the mistake of ordering his secret service, SAVAK, to arrest the Imam and transfer him to a prison in Tehran. The protests that sparked on June 5, following the news of Ayatollah Khomeini's arrest in Qom, Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad and Varamin, became a turning point in the events that eventually led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Order was restored after six days of bloody clashes between unarmed civilians and heavily armed paratroopers. The Shah was advised against killing Ayatollah Khomeini as such a move would have irreversible outcomes. Imam Khomeini returned to Qom after his release on April 7, 1964.

In the autumn of 1964 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi granted capitulation rights to American citizens in Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini declared the government had lost its legitimacy for selling the country's independence for a $200 million loan.

On November 4, 1964, commandos arrested Ayatollah Khomeini in Qom, escorting him to Tehran's Mehrabad airport for immediate exile to Turkey in hopes that exile would fade the memory Imam's.

Almost one year later, Ayatollah Khomeini left Turkey for Iraq and settled in the holy shrine city of Najaf from where he guided the revolutionary movement for the next 13 years.

The publication of an offensive article about Ayatollah Khomeini in one of the local newspapers on January 7, 1978 provoked angry protests across the country.

The demonstrations, which continued throughout 1978, eventually turned into united calls for the establishment of an Islamic government in place of the Pahlavi monarchy.

Ayatollah Khomeini left Iraq for Paris on October 3, residing in Neauphle-le-Chateau until January 16, 1979 when Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi left Iran. Two weeks later, Imam Khomeini finally returned to Iran.

After many days of continued protests and heavy clashes between government and popular forces, the remnants of the Pahlavi regime finally collapsed on February 12, 1979.

A nationwide referendum on March 30 and 31 resulted in a massive vote in favor of the establishment of an Islamic Republic. Imam Khomeini announced April 1, 1979, as the official birthday of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, spent the remaining years of his life in a modest home in Tehran's Jamaran district from where he governed the country.

Ayatollah Khomeini passed away on June 3, 1989, after eleven days in hospital.

Iran's charismatic leader left the people whose lives he touched with his courage and the nation he had guided through the hardships of a long battle against injustice to mourn his loss for years to come.
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