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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

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Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - Full name Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (Farsi: روح الله موسوی خمینی)  was the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its ruler from 1979 to 1989, as well as a Shia Islamic religious leader and scholar and philosopher and theologist of the Shi'a version of radical Islamism.  

The Ayatollah Khomeini was born on May 17, 1900 ref (or September 24, 1902) ref   in the Iranian town of Khomein, to Mustafa Musawi and Hajiyah Aga Khanum. His father was murdered by bandits when he was 5 months old, his mother died in 1918. Khomeini began his religious and philosophical studies after World War I in Arak and later in the religious center of Qom, inspired by Mirza Ali Akbar Yazdi and a variety of Sufi mystics.

Ruhollah Khomeini was a lecturer in political philosophy, Islamic history and ethics at the Qom seminary and in Najaf for many years and was recognized as a  leading scholar of Shia Islam. In 1929 he married Khadijeh Saqafi Khomeini, who was 12 or 13 years old at the time. She bore him seven children, of whom 5 survived to adulthood. Their eldest son, Mustafa, may have been murdered on orders of the Shah while the family was exiled in Najaf, Iraq.

Khomeini was elevated to the status of Ayatollah in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he became politically active in opposition to the government of the Shah. In 1962, he led opposition to a bill that would have reformed elections to allow non-Muslims to run for office.ref Because of his increasingly strident opposition to the Iranian government, he was arrested in the spring of 1963 and exiled in 1964. He stayed in Turkey for a year and then moved to Najaf,  Iraq. Until he was forced to leave in 1978, Khomeini was successful in imposing himself as a political presence in Iran through political initiatives and materials that were smuggled into the country. During this period, he also established himself as an Islamic authority in Najaf, and he developed his theory of Islamic governance, exposed in a series of lectures given in Najaf from January 21 to February 8, 1970. These were compiled into a book: Hukumat e Islami: Velayat i Faqih (or Wilayat al Faqih), or in English: Islamic government: the custodianship of the Jurists. The book delineates Khomeini's political principles that justify an Islamist religious dictatorship and is discussed in more detail below.

When he was exiled from Iraq, Khomeini went to France which gave him asylum, perhaps in order to frustrate U.S. Middle East policy, until February 1, 1979, after the Shah had departed Iran because of illness and political unrest. Khomeini returned home at the invitation of Iran's anti-Shah revolutionaries.

Soon after his return, Khomeini ousted the interim Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar and installed Mehdie Bazargan, his own candidate. The Iranian military, loyal to the Shah, did not interfere in any stage of the revolution, probably because the United States government warned them against human rights violations. The nature of Khomeini's creed and his plans were quite clear to many observers outside Iran. He had also explicitly stated his anti-democratic idea of Islamic rule in  Hukumat e Islami: Velayat i Faqih, published in 1970 and widely circulated in Iran. Nonetheless, the United States refused to interfere to restore order or help its allies and supporters in Iran, and Iranian revolutionaries convinced themselves that Khomeini would bring about a democratic regime.

Khomeini had promised to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to make Iran into a representative democracy. After he seized power however, he formed an Islamic Republic making himself Head of State for life. He rewrote the draft constitution to include the principles of Velayat-i-faqih. He was styled marj al faqih - the source of emulation, and implemented the undemocratic concept of Velayat-i-faqih,  Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists.  Early in his rule, Khomeini was popularly known as "Leader of the Revolution." Later he held the title of "Supreme Spiritual Leader."

In power, Khomeini undertook to implement his version of Shia Sharia Islamic Law. Women were forced to wear the Chador and both women and men were compelled to dress according to restrictive codes. Tens of thousands of opponents, real or imagined, were murdered. The Bahai religious minority were deprived of their rights including the right to practice their faith. Numerous Bahai were executed, including ten young Bahai female schoolteachers, hanged in 1983. Homosexuals were persecuted and hanged. Elections would be held, but they would be meaningless. Only Muslim candidates could run and candidates could be vetoed by the Supreme Council of religious leaders. Four seats for minorities were reserved in the legislature out of a total of 270. The Ayatollah had frequently expressed anti-Semitic sentiments, but nonetheless ordered that Jews should be treated well. That did not preclude periodic hanging of Jews for alleged espionage.  Foreign reading matter and films were strictly limited, and the press was censored.  Torture became commonplace. Under the law, it was forbidden to execute a virgin. Therefore women were "married" to their jailers in a fictitious ceremony and then raped before being murdered. This practice continues in contemporary Iranref . Pretty young women were reportedly arrested only for that purpose. Non-Shia Muslims and other minorities have second class status. A non-Muslim who converts will be the sole inheritor of his parents. Through emigration and conversion, the number of Jews in Iran has been reduced from 80,000 to 30,000. Other minorities reportedly have experienced similar problems.

Though the United States tried to hold itself aloof from the revolution, it became entangled in the revolution when a group called Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line held  52 Americans hostage in Tehran's U.S. embassy. The embassy staff had failed to follow proper security procedures or had no time to do so, exposing a great deal of sensitive communications and records, including names of intelligence agents. Khomeini decreed that the Majlis would decide the fate of the hostages and the government in effect held them hostage until the end of the term of President Carter.

In September of 1980 Iraq attacked Iran. Iraq was supported by the US and other countries, and had an advantage despite its much smaller population and area. The Iranian army could not get replacements for its American equipment, and the regime did not trust the army, which had been a creation of the Shah and loyal to the previous government. Instead, Khomeini created the Iranian Republic Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basij volunteers. Both sides used gas warfare. The Iranians sent their people on suicide missions to demine battlefields. The war ended in 1988 in a stalemate. Khomeini "drank the cup of poison" and accepted a UN mediated truce, rather than trying to reach his goal of ousting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The war cost about $300 billion and as many as 950,000 casualties. Nonetheless, it consolidated popular legitimacy of the regime, which was seen as championing Iranian independence against western backed Iraqi aggression. 

In early 1989, Khomeini issued a fatwa declaring that Muslims had a religious duty to kill  Salman Rushdie, because of Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses. Khomeini  claimed it was a blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad. "The author of the Satanic Verses book," said Khomeini, "which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I ask all Muslims to execute them wherever they find them." This event caused some Westerners who had supported the revolution against the Shah, to reconsider their support of Khomeini. Rushdie was not assassinated, but the Japanese translator of his book was murdered. ref

Khomeini's  fatwa against Rushdie reflected his philosophy of dealing with "infidels." "If one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth," he stated, "his moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him."

Khomeini ruled Iran until his death on June 3, 1989.

Khomeini's Political Philosophy

The foundations of Ayatollah Roholla Khomeini's political philosophy are given in the book Hukumat e Islami: Velayat e Faqih. The essentials may be summarized as follows:

  • Islam is a political religion and philosophy of governance by its nature and covers all aspects of life.

  • Those who falsely claim that Islam is only relevant to matters of faith do so because they are servants of imperialists.

  • If Muslim states employed Islamic governance than they would become more powerful than their rivals, and that is why imperialists and their servants oppose rule by Islamic law. 

  • Sharia, as interpreted by a great scholar, must be the basis of governance, and Khomeini is the marj al taqlid (model worthy of emulation) an absolute leader who rules by fiat and is the stand-in for the hidden 12th Imam.

  • Democracy is contrary to Islamic law, which is the rule of God. This principle was hidden following for a brief period just before the triumph of the revolution, when Khomeini promised democratic government.

Some quotations from Hukumat e Islami:

[From Section 1]

The subject of the government of the jurist (Wilayat Al Faqih) provides us with the opportunity to discuss certain related matters and questions. The governance of the faqih is a subject that in itself elicits immediate assent and has little need of demonstration, for anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islam will unhesitatingly give his assent to the principle of the governance of the faqih as soon as he encounters it; he will recognize it as necessary and self-evident."


From the very beginning, the historical movement of Islam has had to contend with the Jews, for it was they who first established anti-Islamic propaganda and engaged in various stratagems, and as you can see, this activity continues down to the present. Later they were joined by other groups, who were in certain respects, more satanic than they. These new groups began their imperialist penetration of the Muslim countries about three hundred years ago, and they regarded it as necessary to work for the extirpation of Islam in order to attain their ultimate goals. It was not their aim to alienate the people from Islam in order to promote Christianity among them, for the imperialists really have no religious belief, Christian or Islamic. Rather, throughout this long historical period, and going back to the Crusades, they felt that the major obstacle in the path of their materialistic ambitions and the chief threat to their political power was nothing but Islam and its ordinances, and the belief of the people in Islam. They therefore plotted and campaigned against Islam by various means.


For example, the servants of imperialism declared that Islam is not a comprehensive religion providing for every aspect of human life and has no laws or ordinances pertaining to society. It has no particular form of government. Islam concerns itself only with rules of ritual purity after menstruation and parturition. It may have a few ethical principles, but it certainly has nothing to say about human life in general and the ordering of society.


Their plan is to keep us backward, to keep us in our present miserable state so they can exploit our riches, our underground wealth, our lands, and our human resources. They want us to remain afflicted and wretched, and our poor to be trapped in their misery. Instead of surrendering to the injunctions of Islam, which provide a solution for the problem of poverty, they and their agents wish to go on living in huge places and enjoy lives of abominable luxury.

[From Section 2]

The fundamental difference between Islamic government, on the one hand, and constitutional monarchies and republics, on the other, is this: whereas the representatives of the people or the monarch in such regimes engage in legislation, in Islam the legislative power and competence to establish laws belongs exclusively to God Almighty. The Sacred Legislator of Islam is the sole legislative power...

Do we have no minerals, no natural resources? We have everything, but this parasitism, this embezzlement, this profligacy -- all at the expense of the people and the public treasury—have reduced us to a wretched state. Otherwise he [the Shah] would not need to go all the way to America and bow down before that ruffian’s desk, begging for help.           

In addition, superfluous bureaucracies and the system of file-keeping and paper-shuffling that is enforced in them, all of which are totally alien to Islam, impose further expenditures on our national budget not less in quantity than the illicit expenditures of the first category. This administrative system has nothing to do with Islam. These superfluous formalities, which cause our people nothing but expense, trouble, and delay, have no place in Islam. For example, the method established by Islam for enforcing people’s rights, adjudicating disputes, and executing judgments is at once simple, practical, and swift. When the juridical methods of Islam were applied, the sharī‘ah judge in each town, assisted only by two bailiffs and with only a pen and inkpot at his disposal, would swiftly resolve disputes among people and send them about their business. But now the bureaucratic organization of the Ministry of Justice has attained unimaginable proportions, and is, in addition, quite incapable of producing results.

The qualifications essential for the ruler drive directly from the nature and form of Islamic government. In addition to general qualifications like intelligence and administrative ability, there are two other essential qualifications: knowledge of the law and justice...

After the death of the Prophet  (s), difference arose concerning the identity of the person who was to succeed him, but all the Muslims were in agreement that his successor should be someone knowledgeable and accomplished; there was disagreement only about his identity.

It is an established principle that “the faqīh has authority over the ruler.”...

The ruler must also possess excellence in morals and belief; he must be just and untainted by major sins...

Thus, the view of the Shī‘ah concerning government and the nature of the persons who should assume rule was clear from the time following the death of the Prophet (s) down to the beginning of the Occultation....

The two qualities of knowledge of the law and justice are present in countless fuqahā of the present age. If they come together, they could establish a government of universal justice in the world.


If a worthy individual possessing these two qualities arises and establishes a government, he will posses the same authority as the Most Noble Messenger (‘a) in the administration of society, and it will be the duty of all people to obey him.

Deception in the presentation of Khomeini's ideology

It seems clear that the rise to power of Ayatollah Khomeini was based on a deceptive presentation of his program. Khomeini and his close circle of confidants who initiated the revolution  knew that publicizing the theory of the Wilayat Al Faqih would arouse opposition, and so they de-emphasized the Velayet e Faqih and seemed to be satisfying the desire of the Iranian public for democracy. . Jalal Farsi, a famous radical cleric, gave an interview to the Abrar newspaper in which he said that Ayatollah Khomeini cheated the West. Khomeini's objective was always the Wilayat Al Faqih, even when he pretended to be concerned with democracy and freedom and defending the republic. Farsi was the editor of the speeches by Khomeini that were later used in compiling the book Hukumat e Islami: Velayat e Faqi. ref Perhaps it was not the West he trying to cheat, but rather the Iranian people.

A selection of Khomeini quotes from just before the revolution and from after the revolution seems to support the idea that he lied about his intentions:ref


"Personal desire, age, and my health do not allow me to personally have a role in running the country after the fall of the current system." -- Interview with the Associated Press, Paris, November 7, 1978

"I have repeatedly said that neither my desire nor my age nor my position allows me to govern." -- Interview with the United Press, Paris, November 8, 1978

"I don't want to have the power or the government in my hand; I am not interested in personal power." -- Interview with The Guardian newspaper, Paris, November 16, 1978

"I don't want to be the leader of the Islamic Republic; I don't want to have the government or the power in my hands. I only guide the people in selecting the system." -- Interview with an Austrian TV reporter, Paris, November 16, 1978

"It is the Iranian people who have to select their own capable and trustworthy individuals and give them the responsibilities. However, personally, I can't accept any special role or responsibility." -- Interview with Le Journal newspaper, Paris, November 28, 1978

"After the Shah's departure from Iran, I will not become a president nor accept any other leadership role. Just like before, I limit my activities only to guiding and directing the people." -- Interview with Le Monde newspaper, Paris, January 9, 1979

"The Islamic regime does not have oppression." -- Interview with France Press news agency, Paris, October 25, 1978

"The foundation of our Islamic government is based on freedom of dialogue and will fight against any kind of censorship." -- Interview with Reuters news agency, Paris, October 26, 1978

"In the Islamic Republic the rights of the religious minorities are respectfully regarded." Interview with an Austrian TV reporter, Paris, November 6, 1978

"In Iran's Islamic government the media have the freedom to express all Iran's realities and events, and people have the freedom to form any form of political parties and gatherings that they like." Interview with the Italian newspaper Paese Sera, Paris, November 2, 1978

"Our future society will be a free society, and all the elements of oppression, cruelty, and force will be destroyed." -- Interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Paris, November 7, 1978

"In Iran's future Islamic system everyone can express their opinion, and the Islamic government will respond to logic with logic." -- Interview with international reporters, Paris, November 9, 1978

"We would like to run the Islamic government like Islam at its beginning, so that people know how different the Islamic democracy is from other democracies. If the people of the world know the benefits of Islam, my hope is that they all become Moslems." Interview with a group of young French people in Paris, November 9, 1978

"In the Islamic government all people have complete freedom to have any kind of opinion." Interview with Human Rights Watch, Paris, November 10, 1978

"My proposal for establishing an Islamic government does not mean a return to the past. I am strongly for civilization and progress." -- Interview with international reporters, Paris, January 11, 1979; also quoted in Ettela'at newspaper in Iran

"These words that you have heard regarding women in the future Islamic government are all hostile propaganda. In the Islamic Republic women have complete freedom, in their education, in everything that they do, just as men are free in everything." -- Interview with German reporters, Paris, November 12, 1978

"Women are free in the Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities and their future and their clothing." -- Interview with The Guardian newspaper, Paris, November 6, 1978

"The ranking Shiite religious clergymen do not want to govern in Iran themselves.
-- Interview with France Press news agency, Paris, October 25, 1978

"In Islamic Iran the clergy themselves will not govern but only observe and support the government's leaders. The government of the country at all levels will be observed, evaluated, and publicly criticized." -- Interview with Reuters news agency, Paris, October 26, 1978



"This nation exists and clerics exist too. You all must know that in every place in this country only clerics can get the job done. Don't show so much prejudice that you want to put the clerics aside. What have you done for your country in all these years that now you're saying clerics should not be in charge? Appreciate these clerics. You do not understand correctly! If you put this group aside, no name or sign of Islam will remain. Imagine one cleric has done something wrong somewhere. Why can you do something wrong and some cleric cannot do anything wrong?" -- In a meeting with the Islamic Parliament, Jamaran (2), Tehran, May 27, 1981

"Don't listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things." -- In a meeting with Iranian students and educators, Qom (3), March 13, 1979

"That group that due to its opposition to Islam is opposing us, with the same fist that we destroyed the regime we will destroy that group as well. Pay attention to your statements. Repent from your writings. I am warning you that you still have time to repent." -- In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, June 5, 1979

"The intellectuals, the writers, those who have information and thoughts, you see some of them take their pens and in the name of democracy they write whatever they want and they cause disagreements. This group of so-called intellectuals has to correct themselves. Whatever we are suffering is from this group of intellectuals and judges. What we are suffering is because of them. -- In a talk in Qom, July 23, 1979

"We have to warn these intellectuals that if they don't stop their meddling, they will be crushed. We have treated you gently so that maybe you would stop your evilness, and if you don't stop, we will have the last word. These American sympathizers and others must know that in just a few hours we can throw them in the trashcan of annihilation any day that we wish to do so." -- In a talk to the Iranian people, August 8, 1979

"Those who create political fronts must stop their activities. If from the beginning, as in other revolutions in the world, several thousand of these corrupt individuals had been burned and beheaded till the issues were finished, problems would have been solved. We will allow one or more parties to operate if they operate correctly. But we announce that the rest are forbidden. We will no longer allow the same freedom that we used to give, and we cannot allow these parties to continue their activities. According to religious law, we can't give them a grace period. Canonically, it is not correct to give a grace period. We made mistakes when we gave freedom; we can't treat these wild animals gently. We will no longer allow any of their writings to be distributed in the country. We will destroy all their writings. We have to deal with them harshly, and we will deal with them harshly. -- In a meeting with selected Members of Congress, Qom, August 18, 1979

"After the revolution the borders were left open. Pens were free, expression was free, political parties were free. Even if these people are not Moslems, it was assumed that at least they are human. But it is clear now that they are foreign puppets. For us the identity of these writers, the identity of these political parties, the identity of these nice and meaningless phrases are now very clear. We will no longer give freedom. These people are not the type who will stop their activities just from advice. We have to deal with them harshly. -- In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, August 19, 1979

"Those who are trying to bring corruption and destruction to our country in the name of democracy will be oppressed. They are worse than Bani-Ghorizeh  Jews, and they must be hanged. We will oppress them by God's order and God's call to prayer." -- In a talk at the Fayzieah School, Qom, August 30, 1979

"Those who have not voted for the Islamic Republic, it means that they want the previous system. Those who boycott the election so no one votes for the Islamic Republic are seditious. We will treat them like enemies, and we will oppress them. You are enemies that you want to cause trouble. You are enemies that you are conspiring against Islam and against the country. Your comings and goings are controlled. We have been informed that you are in contact with those who want to bring our country back to its previous system. Now that your conspiracy has been proven, we will destroy you all. If you don't stop your evilness, we will mobilize an even higher mobilization, and we will clean out all of you. We will not allow you groups of corrupt people to remain and continue your activities. -- In a message at the end of the month-long Islamic fasting celebration, September 3, 1979

"These rotten roots that are now at work will be oppressed, and the country will be cleaned up. After he encountered the Moavieh army, which were even worse than the infidels, and he encountered the khavarej , his Excellency the Imam Ali, the Chief of the Faithful, acted very harshly and destroyed them to the extent that only a few were able to escape." -- In a speech to the families of Iranian Air Force pilots, Qom, September 2, 1979

"The day of the khavareg ["outsiders"] is the day that his Excellency the Imam Ali, the Chief of the Faithful, pulled out his sword and cut all these corrupt people just like cancer tumors and killed them all. That day was "Yom-ol lah," the day that God punishes nations by bringing earthquakes on them, bringing floods, bringing storms, and slashing people till they become human. These all are God's day [sic], and these things are related to God." -- In memory of the martyrs of the 17th of Shahriver [September 8th], Qom, September 8, 1979

"Do not interrupt the activities. You all have to obey the Islamic Republic. And if you don't, you all will vanish." -- In a speech to Iranian Air Force officers, Isfahan, September 19, 1979

"Those who are against us are like cancer tumors that need to be removed surgically; otherwise they will corrupt everything."

"These writings, these speeches, these wrong activities, these democratic programs are separations from Islam. All these voices are blasphemy and are atheistic." -- in a talk to the Representatives from Tabriz, Qom, September 19, 1979

"We have to identify those who are not in line with Islam and the Islamic movement by their articles, speeches, and activities. You the clergy, thank God, who have control over the Islamic nation [referring to the Iranian people] have to warn people of the devils who arrange gatherings and lectures. They are all afraid of one thing, which is Islam. They might criticize many things, but the key point is that they are attacking Islam itself. Their pens are the same old bayonets that have become like pens ... [sic]. They all have to understand that as long as there is a pulpit and an altar, and as long as these homily readers [that is, Mullahs] exist, they cannot do anything. To all of you who oppose us, I recommend that you don't gather so much, don't send so many fliers, don't publish so much; have you now become brave enough to stick out your neck? I will slap you on your mouth. You think that you have power? Stop all these words and all this gibberish." -- To a group of clergymen, Qom, October 22, 1979

"In the revolution that was achieved in Iran, people were screaming that they wanted Islam; these people did not rise up so their country could have democracy." -- In a meeting with the Islamic Republic Television and Radio Committee, Qom, December 10, 1979

"These criminals that have been arrested are not accused, but their crimes have been proven. We only have to prove their identity and then kill them all. There is absolutely no need for a trial. No compassion for them will be allowed. We believe that the guilty party does not need a trial and must be killed." -- In a message to the Iranian people, June 30, 1980

"People have to learn from the mother who brought her own son to court and then her son was hanged. This is one of the paradigms of Islam, that everyone has to be the same. Children, brothers, kids--if they do not accept advice, introduce them to government officials so that they can receive their punishment ... this is their Islamic responsibility and their faith responsibility. This must be done." -- In a meeting with Islamic Republic police officers, July 24, 1981

"This job that you have accomplished, Oh you, woman, that you brought and gave away your son for punishment has become a paradigm in Islam. This is something that everyone must do. It is the responsibility of all Moslems to do the same." --In a meeting with the mother of Mahmoud Tarighol-Islam to announce her as an exemplary mother, Jamaran, August 26, 1981

"Iran is following a program, and that program is Islam. The same Islam that says if somebody has an association with left or right, that individual is fighting God. He has the intention of fighting God, and his punishment is the punishment that people fighting God will receive. -- In a meeting with coaches and educators, Jamaran, September 19, 1982

"Dear students, you must watch the behavior and the activities of your teachers and professors so that if, God forbid, they say something wrong, you see them deviating, right away you must report them to the responsible officials. Teachers and professors, you must be alert to watch your own colleagues to see if some of them are trying to teach deviating thoughts during their lessons to the children of our Islamic nation so that they can be stopped. If this does not work, directly communicate with officials. My dear children, you too take care of one another in the best possible way, and if you observe that some enemies in the appearance of friends or schoolmates are trying to attract your friends, introduce them to the responsible officials, and try to do all these things very secretly. Committed mothers and fathers, watch the comings and goings of your children and observe their activities." -- In a message on the first day of the school year, Qom, September 23, 1982

The comparison is instructive, but it is hardly a new phenomenon. The French Revolution and the Bolshevik revolution likewise promised democracy and freedom, but delivered terror and tyranny. The world was not experienced with political upheavals of that type then, despite the precedent of Cromwell.

Khomeini came to power in a relatively relative sophisticated country that had the benefit of history. The provisional government that invited him to return was no doubt acquainted with the Hukumat e Islami: Velayat e Faqi. The philosophy of government expounded there was almost indistinguishable in important respects from the fuhrerprinzip of Adolf Hitler. It could not possibly permit democracy.   Moreover, in the case of the Islamic Republic, it is simply not credible that all the people who trusted Khomeini to bring democracy were fooled. Khomeini and his revolution had the support of intellectuals and students. They could have read his writings and seen his actual views in his book. Unlike the French revolution, Khomeini's terror was based on an idea that he had formed in advance. His despotism was intentional, rather than being a reaction to circumstances.  It is remarkable that in all that time nobody thought to consult Khomeini's earlier writings. Moreover, at least outside observers described Khomeini and his probable course of action quite accurately even before he took power.

Ayatollah Khomeini on sex

Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a Tahrir or exegesis with compilations of different rulings. The book, Tahrir ol vasyleh, has been translated into English. Following are a few highlights of his views regarding Islamic laws regulating sex ref (we cannot vouch for accuracy):

  • "A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However he should not penetrate, sodomising the child is OK. If the man penetrates and damages the child then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however does not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girls sister." - From Khomeini's book, "Tahrir ol vasyleh", fourth volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990 Excerpt: Page (1)

  • "It is better for a girl to marry in such a time when she would begin menstruation at her husband's house rather than her father's home. Any father marrying his daughter so young will have a permanent place in heaven." - From Khomeini's book, "Tahrir ol vasyleh", fourth volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990.

  • "A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine." - From Khomeini's book, "Tahrir ol vasyleh", fourth volume, Darol Elm, Qom, Iran, 1990

  • "If one commits the act of sodomy with a cow, a ewe, or a camel, their urine and their excrement become impure, and even their milk may no longer be consumed. The animal must then be killed and as quickly as possible and burned." - From The little green book, Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini, Political, Philosophical, Social 

Until 2002, it was, in fact, permissible to marry a girl as young as nine years of age in Iran without the consent of her parents. A law passed in that year required parental consent for marriage of girls under age 13.

Ami Isseroff

July 23, 2009

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: History of Iran   

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Mideastweb: Middle East Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Issues in a Nutshell Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Brief History Zionism Zionism: Definition & brief history

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini