Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah

Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah khōmā´nē [key], 1900–1989, Iranian Shiite religious leader. Educated in Islam at home and in theological schools, in the 1950s he was designated ayatollah, a supreme religious leader, in the Iranian Shiite community. Khomeini's criticisms of Reza Shah Pahlevi led to his exile in 1964. Settling in Iraq, Khomeini continued his outspoken denunciations, developing a strong religious and political following abroad, until forced to leave (1978) by Saddam Hussein he then moved to France. Following the revolution that deposed Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi , Khomeini returned triumphantly to Iran in 1979, declared an Islamic republic, and began to exercise ultimate authority in the nation. His conservative ideology opposed pro-Western tendencies. Khomeini's rule was marked by the Iran hostage crisis and the Iran-Iraq War .

See biography by B. Moin (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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