Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Iran's Islamic Revolutionaryby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Ayatollah Seyyed Ruhollah Khomeini had a profound impact on specifically the Middle East, but also the whole world. His vicious hate of the West, especially America, heightened tensions between Muslims around the world and America, paving the way for terrorist bodies such as al-Qaeda. As an Iranian Shia cleric, Khomeini was the political and spiritual leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, then the Shah of Iran. Khomeini ruled Iran from 1979 until his death in 1989. Unfortunately, the widespread effect Khomeini had on the Middle East can hardly be considered advantageous. Khomeini’s call for Islamic revolution all over the Middle East led to a war between Iraq and Iran. Khomeini’s strict Shia Islamic law made women inferior beings, and opposition to this law was greeted with harsh punishments ranging from imprisonment to torture to execution. Khomeini planted the seeds for the Islamic jihad that are still breeding war today.
Little his known about Khomeini’s early years. Estimated dates of his birth range from May 17th, 1900 (1) to September 24th, 1902. (2) He was born in Khomein, in the Iranian countryside. However, as Khomeini did not appear on the historic radar until the middle of the 20th century, the date of his birth is merely a trivial tidbit.
The seeds of violence and hate that identified Khomeini later in his life were planted at a young age. Khomeini’s father was murdered when he was five months old, and his mother and aunt both died when Khomeini was 15. It is likely that these deaths planted the bitterness and hate in Khomeini that would burst into a revolution sixty years later. As soon as he was old enough, Khomeini began to study the Islamic religion, specifically the Shiite branch. He came to believe in an Islamic revolution around the world that would destroy infidels and place Islam in its rightful place in the world. America being the chief advocate of democracy and freedom, Khomeini channeled his hate and aggression towards America. He preached that America was the root of all evil, teachings that have manifested today in Islamic terrorists.
Growing up intelligent and introverted in a climate where the religious establishment was losing ground in the face of modernist secular challenges, Khomeini took refuge in mysticism, especially in the works of Ibn Arabi and Rumi and their notion of the "Perfect Man" who will guide society from multiplicity to unity, from blasphemy to faith and from corruption to a life of absolute perfection. Khomeini came to believe that he embodied this "Perfect Man."(3)
In the 1950s, Khomeini finally appeared on the aforementioned historic radar. Ruhollah Khomeini was granted the title of Ayatollah, the highest rank in the Shiite hierarchy of scholars, who are even qualified to give independent judgment in religious matters. In the 1960s, Khomeini was given the title Grand Ayatollah. Khomeini had achieved the power he needed to begin a revolution.
By the 1960s, Khomeini had become an important leader in Shia religious resistance
against modernizing reforms in Iran. This activist position led to his arrest
in 1963, however, Khomeini’s stay in prison was not a long on. Ten months
later he was released, completely unrepentant. In November 1964, the Shah of
Iran sent Khomeini into exile, first to Turkey, and then to Iraq. In the 1970s,
as internal unrest within Iran mounted, Khomeini's influence grew dramatically.
In response to his growing power, Saddam Hussein, officially President of Iraq,
decided that Khomeini had to leave his countries. Khomeini relocated to a suburb
of Paris in 1978. However, he continued to spread his message through Iran.
His followers relayed recorded messages to the Iranian people.(4)
Unfortunately, in all of Khomeini’s childhood and adulthood, he followed the wrong teachings. He put his faith in the Shiite branch of Islam, a religion created by a man and as fallible as that man was. The hate and violence Islam taught flowed through Khomeini because of these false teachings. The revolution of the next two years was one of the major results of those feelings. And since the revolution brought Khomeini and his beliefs, especially anti-Americanism, to world attention, in reality, it is those false teachings, that hate and violence that have sprung into Islamic anti-American terrorist groups and cells all over the world. All of this started with Khomeini’s revolution in Iran.
Following the steep rise in oil prices in early 1970s, Iran emerged as an extremely wealthy state and began to attract massive American multi-national investment. Because the state owned the petroleum industry, oil revenues went directly to the government. This turned Iran into a "rentier" state that lived off foreign income ("rent") instead of taxes paid by its citizenry. The Iranian regime, therefore, had little incentive to encourage a relationship of mutual interests with its own people.(5) This led the Shah of Iran to become more autocratic; He began to promote the interests of multi-millionaires and the wealthy, more and more ignoring the lower class that was fast losing jobs, money, and lives. During the 1970s, Iran's income from petroleum rose from a few hundred million dollars to over thirty billion dollars a year. This caused mass inflation. When oil prices declined in the late 1970s, budget deficits erupted due to projections that were now too high for revenues. Iran was spending millions buying American weaponry it didn't need and its army didn't know how to use. Iran's economy was fast running down the drain.
In an attempt to correct things, the Shah tripled taxes on salaried workers, and imposed fines on thousands of shopkeepers. Thousands of Iranians began to protests the taxes, poor living conditions, and misuse of money by their government. For the first few years, various clusters such as industrial workers, bazaaris (shopkeepers), slum dwellers, Shia clergy, and more were divided, each seeking their own interests. Khomeini organized this newly formed revolution from his exile in Paris. In February 1978 radical young soldiers in the Iranian Air Force joined the revolution. It was not long before the Shah was overthrown, and Khomeini was leader of Iran. Under Khomeini's leadership, Iran became a pure Shia theocracy in just a little over two years.
On September 22, 1980, fearing a Khomeini-led revolution similar to the one that took place in Iran, Saddam Hussein issued orders for Iraq to invade Iran, starting the Gulf Wars, which lasted through the decade. In 1979-81, the Iranian Hostage Crisis created enmity between Iran and America, and it was not until President Reagan's inauguration that the American hostages held by Khomeini-led Iran were freed. The 1980s were years of war, strife, and conflict in the Middle East. Khomeini directly caused both of the above conflicts. Is it too far to say that Khomeini's revolution in Iran led to the majority of the conflict in the Middle East for the next decade?
The answer, I think, is yes. It is safe to say that the Iranian revolution, led by Khomeini, was the spark plug for the majority of the conflicts in the Middle East. The Gulf Wars began because Hussein was afraid of a similar revolution in Iraq. The Iranian Hostage Crisis forced American involvement upon the United States. Terrorists such as Osama bin Laden have taken Khomeini's hate-filled teachings to heart, and the effects of this are obvious. Khomeini planted the seeds for Islamic hate, revolution, and terrorism, all justified as a jihad, Islamic Holy War, that has plagued the world for nearly two decades.
Suffering from cancer, Khomeini died in 1989. However, the deeds and words of Khomeini were already being acted upon. Terrorists had begun to strap on bombs and blow themselves up. Plans for larger terrorists strikes were in operation. Dozens of terrorist networks sprung up. Terrorism had taken a huge foothold; a foothold it has not yet let go of. Today, these same terrorists have destroyed the towers of the World Trade Center, killed hundreds of innocent school children and faculty in a brutal hostage crisis, and waged an on-going conflict, if not all-out war, in Palestine. And it all started because one man, Ayatollah Khomeini, believed that Islam should rule the world, and that democracy was the root of all evil.
Khomeini put his faith in the false and contradictory teachings of men, instead of the infallible Word of God. This failure would plant the seeds of terrorism that has caused so much pain around the world, and will likely cause much more before Christ returns to end all wars and establishes his thousand-year kingdom. Khomeini thought he was leading a glorious Islamic purification of the world. Instead, he was causing war and strife that has claimed millions of lives, and will claim many, many more before it is stopped.