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Khomeini, Ruhollah (1900–1989)

AYATOLLAH RUHOLLAH Khomeini was the spiritual head (imam) of the Iranian Shia Muslims and leader of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that overthrew Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. Historians lay the blame on the shah or monarch himself for his Western-leaning social engineering using petrodollars in the previous decades. There was no popular demand for the shah's “white revolution” from above when, according to his words, “the whole structure was being turned upset down” through the attempt of rapid modernization.

In the 1960s, one of the country's leading ayatollahs, Khomeini, deploring the “moral degradation” he saw around him in women's emancipation and national secularization, pledged his opposition “as long as there was blood in my veins.” Khomeini preached that the Shia doctrine of quietism, ...

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