Leaders's father

Detailed biography of Ayatollah Khamenei, Leader of Islamic Revolution

Contents

1-Family. 2

2. Scholarly and Cultural Personality. 4

2.1 Education and Teaching. 4

2.2. Works Authored and Translations. 7

3-Political and Social Life. 8

3-1 Revolutinary Activities. 8

3.2. The First Decade of the Islamic Revolution: Bahman 1357- Khordad 1368. 18

3.2.1. Political Activities. 18

3.2.2. Promotional and Explanatory Activities. 25

3.2.3. Assassination Attempt on Ayatollah Khamenei’s Life by Monafeqin. 27

3.3.Presidency. 27

3.3.1. Political and Cultural Activities During Presidency. 29

3.4. The Leadership Era. 32

Sayyid Ali Khamenei was born on the 29th of Farvardin of 1318 S.H./28th of Safar 1358 L.H./19th of April of 1939 C.E..

Sayyid Ali Husseini Khamenei, the son of the late Hujjatolislam wal-Muslemin Hajj Sayyid Jawad Husseini Khamenei, was born in the holy city of Mashhad in the month Farvardin of the year 1318 of the Solar Hijri calendar – equivalent the year 1358 of the Lunar Hijri calendar.

He is the second son of the family. Like many seminarians and teachers of religious teachings, the life of the late Sayyid Jawad Khamenei was very simple: “My father, though a well-known religious figure, was a bit of an ascetic. We had a hard life. I remember that sometimes we had nothing for supper but bread with some raisins, which our mother had somehow improvised”.

The house in which the family of Sayyid Jawad lived was in a poor neighborhood: “Our house, some sixty-five square meters, consisted of a single room and a gloomy basement. When visitors came to see my father as the local cleric to consult about their problems, the family had to move into the basement while the visit went on.... Years later some charitable persons bought the small, empty lot adjacent to our house, so we were able to build two more rooms”.

1-Family

Father

His father was born in Najaf on the 16th of Azar of 1274 S.H./20th of Jumadi at-Thani 1313 L.H. – and he passed away on the 14th of Tir of 1365 S.H.. He was one of the ulama and mujtahids of his time and he migrated to Tabriz with his family. After finishing the Sath level, he migrated to Mashhad in the year 1336 L.H.. In the area of fiqh and usul, he was under the tutelage of outstanding personalities like Hajj Agha Hussein Qomi, Mirza Mohammad Aghazade Khorasani (known as Kafai), Mirza Mahdi Isfahani and Hajj Fazel Khorasani.

In the area of philosophy, he was taught by Agha Bozorg Hakim Mashhadi and Sheikh Asadollah Yazdi. Later on, he went to Najaf in the year 1345 L.H. and he benefitted from the lessons of Mirza Mohammad Hussein Naeeni, Sayyid AbulHassan Isfahani and Agha Zia ul-Din Iraqi was given permission to practice ijtihad by these three personalities.

After this, he decided to return to Iran. He went to Mashhad and stayed there for the rest of his life. As well as teaching, he was entrusted with the task of public prayer leadership in the Mosque of Siddiqis of Mashhad Market (also known as Azarbaijanis’ Mosque). He was also one of the public prayer leaders of Goharshad Mosque. He was deeply interested in studying. His scholarly peers included Hajj Mirza Hussein Abai, Hajj Sayyid Ali Akbar Khui, Hajj Mirza Habib Maleki and other such personalities with whom discussions and research continued for many years. He was a pious man who was indifferent to material affairs and who led an ascetic lifestyle.

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he continued his ascetic lifestyle although his children held high-ranking political and executive positions. He was always trusted by the people because of his human qualities. He was buried in a portico behind the holy zarih of Imam Ridha (a.s.). In a message of condolence to Ayatollah Khamenei, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) described Ayatollah Sayyid Jawad Khamenei as a pious and committed scholar.

Sayyid Ali Khamenei’s great-grandfather, Sayyid Mohammad Husseini Tafreshi was a descendent of the Aftasi Sayyids. He was a descendent of Sultan ul-Ulama Ahmad, known as Sultan Sayyid Ahmad who was one of the grandchildren of Imam Sajjad (a.s.). His grandfather was Sayyid Hussein Khamenei who was born in Khamenei in the year 1259 L.H. and who passed away on the 20th of Rabi ath-Thani of 1325.

Sayyid Hussein went to Najaf for studies and he became the student of great ulama such as Sayyid Hussein Kuhkamari, Fazel Irawani, Fazel Sharbiani, Mirza Baqir Shaki and Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi and after finishing his studies in Najaf Islamic Seminary, he became one of the faqihs and teachers of that seminary. He went to Tabriz in the year 1316 L.H. and he taught at Talebiyah Islamic seminary. He also became the public prayer leader of Jameh Mosque of Tabriz. He had lofty political and social thoughts and he was a supporter of the Constitutional Movement. He always encouraged people to support and protect this movement.

Some of his works are his annotated edition of books such as “Riyath al-Masael”, “Qawanin al-Usul”, “Makassib” – written by Sheikh Ansari – and “Fawaed al-Usul”. His annotated edition of “Luma’h” was dedicated to the Hussainiyah Shushtari Library in Najaf. Shaikh Mohammad Khiabani, a seminarian who engaged in political activities in the Constitutional era, was his student and son-in-law.

Sayyid Mohammad Khamenei – born in 1293 in Najaf and died in the year 1353 L.H. in Najaf – was Ayatollah Khamenei’s paternal uncle. He was known as “prophet” and he was one of the students of Akhund Khorasani, Shariat Isfahani and other great personalities of Najaf. He was well-aware of the developments of the time and he was considered to be one of the supporters of the Constitutional Movement.

Mother

Lady Mirdamadi was born in the year 1293 S.H. and passed away in the year 1368. She was a pious and religious woman who was familiar with Quranic ayahs, hadith, history and literature. She accompanied her children – particularly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei – during revolutionary activities against the Pahlavi regime.

 “My mother was a very wise, educated and well-versed woman who enjoyed poetic and artistic talents. She was familiar with Hafiz. Of course, when I say “familiar”, I do not mean that she was an expert on him. Rather, I mean that she was an avid reader of Hafiz poems. She was entirely familiar with the Holy Quran and she had a mellifluous voice”.

 “When we were children, all of us would sit and my mother read the Holy Quran for us. She recited it very sweetly and beautifully. We gathered around her and she recited different ayahs about the lives of prophets on different occasions. I initially heard about the lives of Hazrat Musa (a.s), Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) and a number of other prophets from my mother. Whenever she recited the Holy Quran and whenever the names of prophets were mentioned, she began to provide explanations for us”.

Ayatollah Sayyid Hashem Najafabadi Mirdamadi - born in the year 1303 L.H. and died in the year 1380 L.H. - was Ayatollah Khamenei’s maternal grandfather. He was a member of the Mirdamad household. Mirdamad was a prominent philosopher of the Safavid era. Sayyid Hashem was a student of Akhund Khorasani and Mirza Mohammad Hossein Naeeni and he was a Quranic expert. He was also one of the public prayer leaders of Goharshad Mosque. Sayyid Hashem paid careful attention to enjoining good and advising against evil. Following the massacre at Goharshad Mosque during the rule of Reza Khan, he was exiled to Semnan. On his mother’s side, Ayatollah Khamenei descends from Mohammad Dibaj, Imam Ja’far Sadiq’s (a.s.) son.

2. Scholarly and Cultural Personality

2.1 Education and Teaching

Education in Mashhad

Sayyid Ali Khamenei began his education at the age of four. He was sent to Maktab and he began to learn the Holy Quran. He attended the first Islamic school of Mashhad, Dar al-Ta’alim Dianati, for elementary school. At the same time, he began to study the Holy Quran from a number of qurra in Mashhad.

When he was in the sixth grade, he began his elementary seminary studies. His great interest in seminary studies and his parents’ encouragement helped him enter this world after finishing elementary school. He continued his Islamic teachings at Suleiman Khan Islamic Seminary. He also learned some basic teachings from his father. Later, he went to Navab School and he finished Sath level there. Simultaneously, he went to high school and continued until the second level.

He studied “Ma’alem al-Usul” from Ayatollah Sayyid Jalil Husseini Sistani and “The Annotated Edition of Luma’h” from his father and Mirza Ahmad Modarres Yazdi. He studied “Rasael”, “Makassib” and “Kifayah” with his father and Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Hashem Qazvini. In the year 1334 S.H., he began attending Dars-e Kharij which was taught by Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammad Hadi Milani.

Najaf Islamic Seminary

In the year 1336 S.H., he went on a trip to Najaf. There he attended the classes of well-known teachers of Najaf Islamic Seminary such as Ayat Sayyid Mohsen Hakim, Sayyid AbulQasem Khui, Sayyid Mahmoud Shahroudi, Mirza Baqir Zanjani and Mirza Hassan Bojnourdi. However, he returned to Mashhad because of his father’s reluctance to live in this city. In Mashhad, he attended the classes of Ayatollah Milani for another year. Later in the year 1337 S.H., he went to Qom Islamic Seminary because of his great interest in continuing his studies. In the same year and before travelling to Qom, he was given revayat permission by Ayatollah Mohammad Hadi Milani.

Qom Islamic Seminary

In Qom, Sayyid Ali Khamenei benefitted from the tutorship of great personalities such as Ayat Hajj Agha Hussein Borujerdi, Imam Khomeini (r.a.), Hajj Sheikh Morteza Haeri Yazdi, Sayyid Mohammad Muhaqiq Damad and Allamah Tabatabai. During his stay in Qom, he spent much of his time researching, studying and teaching.

Return to Mashhad

In the year 1343 S.H., he had to return to Mashhad in order to help his father who had developed some sight problems. Once more, he attended the classes of Ayatollah Milani which continued until the year 1349. As soon as he went to Mashhad, he engaged in teaching high-level fiqh and usul based on books such as “Rasael”, “Makassib” and “Kifayah”. Moreover, he held tafsir classes for the public. A large number of youth – particularly students – participated in these classes.

In his tafsir classes, Ayatollah Khamenei taught the most important bases of Islamic thought and philosophy based on Quranic ayahs and he stressed the necessity of revolutionary activities and overthrowing the taghuti regime so much so that the participants in his tafsir classes reached the conclusion that a government based on Islam and religious teachings should be established in the country.

One of his main purposes of holding tafsir classes was conveying the principles of the Islamic Revolution to society. In the year 1347, he began to teach high-level tafsir for the clergy and these lessons continued until the year 1366 before he was arrested and exiled to Iranshahr. His tafsir classes continued even after his presidency.

Teaching Dars-e Kharij

He started to teach Dars-e Kharij in the year 1369 and since then, he has engaged in teaching principles of jihad, qisas, makassib, and travelers’ daily prayers.

Literary Personality

Ayatollah Khamenei is well-versed with poetry and literature and has always been interested in reading novels and fiction. He has read many well-known novels and works of fiction from around the world. This interest in reading novels, literary works of great writers and the history and culture of eastern and western nations continues. He has engaged in literary criticism and composing poems. He is in contact with many poets, writers and intellectuals.

During the time when he was in Mashhad, he participated in literary meetings in which great poets were present. He engaged in critiques of pomes in these literary meetings. Ayatollah Khamenei himself has composed some poems and he has used the pseudonym “Amin” [“trustworthy”] in recent years. Reading history books is another part of his studies and he has mastery over discussions and subjects on contemporary history.

2.2. Works Authored and Translations

Ayatollah Khamenei began research and writing since he became a seminarian. He wrote commentaries on his teachers’ lessons and he wrote and translated a number of books before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

Works Authored

  1. On the Four Principal Books of “Ilm ul-Rijal”
  2. Islamic Thought in the Quran
  3. Imam Al-Sadiq (a.s.)
  4. The Profundity of Prayer
  5. A Discourse on Patience
  6. The Spirit of Tawhid and the Denial of Worshipping Other than God
  7. A Report on the History and Current State of Qom Islamic Seminary

Translations (from Arabic into Farsi)

  1.  “The Future in Islamic Lands” by Sayyed Qutb
  2. “Peace Treaty of Imam Hassan (a.s.), the Most Glorious Heroic Flexibility in History” by Raazi Aal-Yasseen
  3. Tafsir “In the Shade of the Quran” by Sayyed Qutb
  4. “Muslims in the Liberation Movement of India” by Abdulmunaim Nassri
  5. “An Indictment Against the Western Civilization” by Sayyed Qutb

Many of his opinions and thoughts in the form of speeches, messages and interviews have been published as books and software with different titles. Some of his works have been translated into other languages.  Theses, dissertations, articles and different books on his thoughts and philosophy have been published as well. A number of his speeches and written works during his Leadership have been published in the book “Hadith of Wilayat”. 

3-Political and Social Life

3-1 Revolutinary Activities

The political-religious activities in Ayatollah Khamenei’s household had prepared him for political-religious activities in later life. The starting point for his entry into political activities was his meeting with the famous Islamic revolutionary Sayyid Mojtaba Navab Safavi (Mirlohi) in Mashhad when Ayatollah Khamenei was a young seminarian. As he himself says, this meeting created the first revolutionary spark in him. His first meeting with Imam (r.a.) took place in the year 1336 and he became familiar with the political aspect of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) during the events related to the ratification of the state councils bill.  

Under the leadership of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), Ayatollah Khamenei entered different arenas of fighting against taghut in the year 1341. He was one of the first personalities who began revolutionary activities before the uprising of the 15th of Khordad of 1342. In Bahman of 1341, after a poll on the state councils bill, Ayatollah Khamenei and his brother, Sayyid Mohammad, were entrusted with the responsibility of delivering Ayatollah Mohammad Hadi Milani’s report to Imam Khomeini. This report was about the reaction of the people of Mashhad to this poll.

First Arrest During the Uprising of the 15th of Khordad

In the year 1342, when the month of Muharram was approaching, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) entrusted him with the responsibility of delivering messages to Ayatollah Milani and ulama, seminarians and religious groups of Khorasan in order to continue the movement and inform the people of the propaganda of the Pahlavi regime. In these messages, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) had laid down a number of guidelines. He had asked the ulama and clergy to narrate the events of the massacre at Feyziyyah School from the seventh day of Muharram. This was done in order to show the crimes of the Pahlavi regime.

Ayatollah Khamenei himself went to Birjand – which was under the influence of knowledgeable personalities – with the purpose of achieving the goals and guidelines of Imam Khomeini (r.a.). In the minbars and meetings held in this city, he delivered a speech about the massacre at Feyziyyah School and the domination of Israel over Islamic societies. Following these speeches, he was arrested in Mashhad on the 12th of Khordad of 1342 which coincided with the seventh of Muharram. After he was freed, Ayatollah Mohammad Hadi Milani went to visit him.

He pursued his political activities in the meetings that were held in Ayatollah Milani’s house with the purpose of continuing the Islamic movement in Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) absence – who was under house arrest. Shortly after, he returned to Qom Islamic Seminary and organized political activities with the help of a number of revolutionary activists. These activities took the form of meetings andcampaigns. He was one of the clergy who sent a telegram to Ayatollah Sayyid Mahmoud Taleqani, Mehdi Bazargan and Yadollah Sahabi who had been arrested because of their support of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

At the same time and under the guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, Khorasani clergy of Qom Islamic Seminary wrote a letter to Hassan-Ali Mansour, the prime minister of the time, expressing their opposition to Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) arrest. The writers of this letter included Ayatollah Khamenei himself, AbulQassem Khazali and Mohammad Abai Khorasani.     

Second Arrest During Revolutionary Journeys

Sayyid Ali Khamenei went to Zahedan, Sistan-Baluchistan Province, in Bahman of 1342 – which coincided with Ramadan – in order to promote and explain the principles of the Islamic movement. His speeches in Zahedan’s mosques and widespread reception of these speeches led to the regime arresting him again. He was sent to Qezel Qaleh Prison which was the place for keeping political prisoners at that time. On the 14th of Esfand of 1342, he was released from prison on condition that he would not leave Tehran. Since then and until the victory of the Islamic Revolution, his activities came under the permanent surveillance of intelligence agents.

 “The Meeting of the Eleven” in Qom Islamic Seminary

In the fall of the year 1343, Ayatollah Khamenei returned from Qom to Mashhad and he engaged in scholarly and political activities as well as looking after his father. He was one of the clergy who wrote a letter to the interim government – the government of Amir Abbas Hoveyda – on the 29th of Bahman of 1343, expressing his opposition to the disastrous conditions of the country and Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) exile.

Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Abdol Rahim Rabbani Shirazi, Ali Feyz Meshkini, Ibrahim Amini, Mahdi Haeri Tehrani, Hossein-Ali Montazeri, Ahmad Azari Qomi, Ali Qoddusi, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sayyid Mohammad Khamenei and Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi were the eleven members of the group which had been formed with the purpose of strengthening and reforming Qom Islamic Seminary in the struggle against the Pahlavi regime. The struggle was on the basis of ideology and belief and this was the reason for its development and the clergy were considered to be the intellectual leaders of the struggle. At this stage of the struggle, they had reached the conclusion that they would not succeed without organization and that the existence of an organization would prevent the struggle from being suppressed by the regime. 

During the time of Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) exile, this group planned the continued revolutionary activities. This group is considered to be one of the first secret organizations of Qom Islamic Seminary. However, its activities were discovered by SAVAK in late 1345. Following this discovery, some of its members were arrested and some others – including Ayatollah Khamenei – were under pursuit by SAVAK.

The Establishment of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom

As well as this group, an organization named “The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom” was established. “We were among the people who participated in the first meetings of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom. I was present and I think Mr. Hashemi was present too. Furthermore, Messrs. Meshkini, Rabbani Shirazi, Nasser Makarem and a number of other seniors participated as well”.

These meetings and the decisions which were made in them changed the environment of Qom Islamic Seminary. Those who implemented these decisions were people other than the members of the Society: young and enthusiastic clergy. These activities opened up the restricted environment of Qom.

At this time, Ayatollah Khamenei secretly engaged in translating and publishing the book “The Future in Islamic Lands”. In this book, there is reference to two important issues: the pressures of the west and communist propaganda. It includes a view of an Islamic future. SAVAK prevented the publication of the book and arrested those people who tried to publish it, but it did not manage to arrest Ayatollah Khamenei who had translated the book.

At that time, Ayatollah Khamenei pursued his revolutionary activities in Tehran and Karaj, but he was prevented to pursue his activities in Karaj because of his refusal to promise that he would not act against the regime. He was the public prayer leader of Amir al-Mu’minin Mosque for a short while.   

Third Arrest

Following the arrest of Ayatollah Sayyid Hassan Qomi in Farvardin of 1346 – which was because of his speech against the regime in Goharshad Mosque – Ayatollah Khamenei asked Ayatollah Milani to express his opposition to this act. However, SAVAK agents found out about his presence in Mashhad and they arrested him in the funeral ceremony of Ayatollah Sheikh Mojtaba Qazvini on the 14th of Farvardin of the same year. He was released on the 26th of Tir and a short time after his release, he went to meet with political prisoners in Tehran.

Through his relationship with revolutionary activists in different part of the country, Ayatollah Khamenei tried to organize fighting, train new generations of activists and revolutionary personalities – particularly the clergy and students - on the basis of Islamic philosophy, deriving the principles of the struggle from the Holy Quran and hadith, confronting materialistic, Marxist, Liberalist and other such thoughts, and deepening Islamic thought and jihad on the basis of Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) movement.

Despite the confrontations of the Pahlavi regime, he made many achievements. His multi-dimensional outlook towards the struggle, his efforts to benefit from the great network of Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) movement and the comprehensive network of minbar, and his practicality were some of the reasons behind his success.

In the wake of the destructive earthquake in southern Khorasan on the 9th of Shahrivar of 1347, a number of the Khorasan clergy went to Ferdos under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei in order to help the victims and organize popular help. This act was faced with the opposition of local security agents, but this group of people carried out very effective tasks in helping the victims. The two-month presence and assistance of Ayatollah Khamenei in Ferdos created an opportunity for him to get familiar with the problems of the victims and to establish a close relationship with them.

As a result of this, he managed to convey the message of the Islamic movement to them in different meetings, minbars and religious heyats. These activities provoked the police and SAVAK of Khorasan and consequently, his stay in Ferdos came to an end. In late Dey of 1347, Ayatollah Khamenei tried to go on a pilgrimage to the shrine cities in Iraq and to meet with Imam (r.a.) in Najaf, but he faced the opposition of SAVAK. This restriction continued until the victory of the Islamic Revolution and he was not allowed to leave the country.

Imprisonment for Six Months

Ayatollah Khamenei was sentenced to prison for six months because of being a member of the Meeting of the Eleven. When this news was published in Keyhan newspaper and when he was summoned to the appeals court, he refused to be present in the session after consulting with a number of ulama of Mashhad. Although he was pursued by the regime, he stayed in contact with a number of revolutionary ulama such as Sayyid Mahmoud Taleqani, Sayyid Mohammad Reza Saidi, Mohammad Jawad Bahonar, Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, Morteza Motahhari, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Fazlollah Mahallati in Mashhad and Tehran.

Although he was in Mashhad, he participated in many meetings between revolutionary activists in Tehran. In these meetings, they made decisions about dispatching a number of clergy to the villages around Mashhad.

Ayatollah Khamenei continued his revolutionary activities with his ideological outlook towards the Islamic movement and with the goal of intellectual nourishment of the people on the basis of this movement. By holding tafsir classes for the clergy and students and by delivering speeches for the general public, he was trying to strengthen their religious and ideological principles. He believed that achieving Islamic ideals is possible in an environment of cultural endeavors and that popular uprisings would not achieve results except by raising their awareness.

The intellectual movement was considered to be the most active orientation in universities. Ayatollah Khamenei considered this movement to be necessary in the face of the activities of those political orientations that believed in Marxism. Therefore, he organized meetings with the presence of Islamic activists and intellectuals in the year 1348.

Speech in Ershad Hussainiyah and al-Jawad Mosque in Tehran

Ayatollah Khamenei was in contact with many intellectuals and well-known intellectual centers in the area of revolutionary activities and he cooperated with them. He was invited to a number of active political-Islamic centers such as Ershad Hussainiyah and al-Jawad Mosque in Tehran in order to deliver a speech about the struggle. The speeches that he delivered in Ershad Hussainiyah in late 1348 and his speeches in al-Jawad Mosque – the speeches in Ershad Hussainiyah were delivered at Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari’s invitation and the ones in al-Jawad Mosque were delivered at the invitation of the Islamic Council of Engineers - exerted great influence on raising the awareness of the young generation, particularly university and secondary school students.

In order to develop the Islamic movement and strengthen the ideological bases of fighting against the Pahlavi regime, Ayatollah Khamenei organized a series of meetings in the spring of 1349 in which he discussed his ideas for fighting on the basis of the Islamic world view and ideology. To these meetings, he invited such personalities as Morteza Motahhari, Sayyid Mahmoud Taleqani, Sayyid Abolfazl Zanjani, Mehdi Bazargan, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Yadollah Sahabi, Abbas Shaibani and Kazem Sami and these meetings led to the refinement of issues related to the Islamic world view and ideology.  

Fourth Arrest

With the demise of Ayatollah Sayyid Mohsen Hakim in the Khordad of 1349, the issue of who should be the main marja taqlid was brought up in society in a serious way. It had been brought up in the past with the demise of Ayatollah Borujerdi as well. Appreciating the fiqhi and scholarly position of Ayatollah Hakim and sending messages of condolence to a number of ulama, Ayatollah Khamenei made great efforts to propose Imam Khomeini (r.a.) as the main marja taqlid.

Following the martyrdom of Ayatollah Sayyid Mohammad Reza Saidi by SAVAK on the 20th of Khordad of 1349 – he was one of the most important people who promoted the ideas of Imam Khomeini at that point in time – Ayatollah Khamenei made an effort to channel the people’s grief about and opposition to the martyrdom of Ayatollah Saidi. It was because of his efforts that a number of seminarians and the clergy engaged in publishing pamphlets in support of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and in criticism of the regime and SAVAK. Because of these revolutionary activities, the SAVAK of Mashhad arrested him and put him in Lashkar-e Khorasan Prison – the only prison for political prisoners in Mashhad – on the second of Mehr of 1349.

 

He was released after a short time. In Muharram of 1349, he delivered a number of speeches in Ansar al-Hussein Heyat in Tehran despite the fact that he was one of those people whom SAVAK had forbidden from taking the minbar. In the year 1350, Ayatollah Khamenei delivered a number of speeches in Hedayat-e Tehran Mosque – which was the center of attention among students and youth – at the invitation of Ayatollah Taleqani.

Three Arrests in 1350

After Imam Khomeini (r.a.) condemned and declared haraam the 2,500-year imperial celebrations conducted by the Pahlavi regime, SAVAK adopted very strict measures against the activities of revolutionary clergy. For this reason, Ayatollah Khamenei was summoned to SAVAK of Mashhad in Mordad of 1350 and he was put in Lashkar-e Khorasan Prison for a period. After his release, he pursued his activities and he was arrested two more times in the same year: one was in Aban of 1350 which led to a short-term imprisonment in Lashkar-e Khorasan Prison. Another was on the 21st of Azar of the same year in which he was imprisoned for three months because he was accused of acting against national security.

Teaching in Tehran, Mashhad and Neyshabur

After his release, he continued his socio-political activities and he participated numerous times in the meetings that were held in Ansar al-Hussein Heyat and Narmak Mosque in Tehran in which he delivered speeches on religious and political issues. Furthermore, he continued to teach tafsir in Mirza Ja’far School, Imam Hassan (a.s.) Mosque, Qiblah Mosque and in his house in Mashhad. His audience in these meetings were university and secondary school students, young clergy and people from different social backgrounds.

He familiarized them with the philosophy of revolutionary and political Islam. Later on, many of those who participated in his meetings and many of his students engaged in raising awareness in different parts of the country during a time when the revolutionary activities were at their peak.

SAVAK agents prepared many reports about his speeches and classes. From the viewpoint of SAVAK, people like Ayatollah Khamenei were considered to be among intellectual and revolutionary teachers in Islamic seminaries. SAVAK thought that these personalities tried to raise the political and social awareness of seminarians and the clergy as well as establishing close relationships with students and youth.

In Farvardin of 1352, Ayatollah Khamenei went to Neyshabur in order to promote revolutionary ideas. In the mosques of this city, he taught usul and his classes were held once a week on Thursdays. In Khordad of 1352, SAVAK prevented him from continuing his tafsir classes in Imam Hassan (a.s.) Mosque and in his house. In Azar of 1352, Ayatollah Khamenei changed his place of activities to Keramat Mosque where he led public prayers and continued his tafsir classes.

This was done at the invitation of the founder of this mosque. He turned this mosque into a center for the activities of students and young clergy. In response to his extensive political activities, SAVAK of Mashhad forbade him from leading public prayers in that mosque.

Sixth Arrest: The Most Difficult One

In Aban of 1353, Ayatollah Khamenei delivered speeches in Javid Mosque in Tehran at the invitation of Ayatollah Mohammad Mofatteh who was the prayer leader of this mosque and who had been prevented from taking the minbar at that point in time. As a result of this, SAVAK arrested Ayatollah Mofatteh and closed Javid Mosque as an important center of the struggle.

Furthermore, Ayatollah Khamenei’s house was searched by SAVAK in Azar of the same year. SAVAK stated that the reason for this search was Ayatollah Khamenei’s statements in a private meeting about the necessity of founding an organization for engaging in struggle and benefitting from opportunities with the aim of furthering the goals of the Islamic movement in Mashhad.

Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei was arrested for the sixth time in Dey of 1353. This time, he was sent to Anti-Vandalism Prison in Tehran. As Ayatollah Khamenei himself said, he experienced the most difficult conditions in that prison. He was not allowed to meet with anyone and his family was not informed of his location.   

Activities Leading to Internal Exile

He was released on the second of Shahrivar of 1354, but he was under close surveillance by intelligence agents and he was forbidden from leading public prayers, delivering speeches, teaching and holding tafsir classes even in his house. Despite all these political and security restrictions, he secretly pursued his tafsir classes and his intellectual and revolutionary activities. He also continued to distribute money to the clergy on behalf of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

In late 1354, he secretly published the book “Islamic Thought in the Quran” under the pseudonym “Sayyid Ali Hosseini”. In the wake of a flood in Quchan, he formed a group in Ouzieh School in Quchan to help the victims.

In SAVAK’s documents, there are reports about the activities of Ayatollah Khamenei and his father in late 1355 according to which they engaged in supporting Ayatollah Khomeini (r.a.) and promoting the Islamic movement. In Muharram of 1396 L.H. – Dey of 1355 S.H. – Ayatollah Khamenei delivered a number of speeches against the regime, he organized meetings for students and youth in order to discuss the intellectual and cultural environment of society and he participated in the meetings of ulama and seminarians of Tehran.

In this way, he managed to reinforce revolutionary activities. On the other hand, SAVAK was trying to penetrate these meetings in order to gather evidence against him and other revolutionary activists. After the death of Ali Shariati in London on the 29th of Khordad of 1356, Ayatollah Khamenei participated in his memorial service  as he was familiar with him and his father from their mutual time in Mashhad in their youth.

Internal Exile to Iranshahr

Following the martyrdom of Ayatollah Sayyid Mostafa Khomeini (r.a.)- Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) eldest son- in Najaf on the first of Aban of 1356, Ayatollah Khamenei as well as a number of revolutionary activists organized a memorial service in Mulla Hashem Mosque on the 6th of Aban. Moreover, he and a number of ulama in Mashhad sent a telegram to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) in Najaf in order to express their condolences. With the martyrdom of Ayatollah Sayyid Mostafa Khomeini (r.a.) and the developments that took place following this event, the Islamic movement entered its final phase and serious movements were launched in support of the Revolution.

In response to these activities, the Pahlavi regime restricted political activities by adopting drastic measures. This happened despite the fact that it had previously announced that society enjoys an open political environment. As a result of implementing this policy, a number of well-known activists were exiled and Ayatollah Khamenei was one of them.

The Public Security Commission of Khorasan exiled him to Iranshahr, Sistan-Baluchistan Province for three years. SAVAK agents attacked his house on the 23rd of Azar of 1356 and they arrested him and transferred him to Iranshahr. The purpose of adopting this measure was to break off his relationship with the people and revolutionary activists and consequently to prevent him from pursuing his activities and speaking against the regime.

However, because of his positive interactions with the local Sunnis of Eshtehar village, he achieved popularity among the people of Iranshahr and he delivered the message of the Revolution to people in remotest areas of the copuntry by benefiting from these opportunities. His speeches in Al-e Rasool Mosque in Iranshahr and the comings and goings of revolutionary ulama, seminarians, revolutionary forces and people from different social backgrounds to his house made intelligence agents restrict his activities and prevent the people from meeting with him.  

With the massacre of the people of Yazd on the 19th of Farvardin of 1357 by the security forces of the Pahlavi regime, he wrote a letter to Ayatollah Mohammad Saddouqi- prayer leader of Yazd- to condemn this savage act, to encourage the people to continue fighting and to commemorate the martyrs of this event. This letter was published throughout the country in the form of a manifesto.

The outbreak of a flood in Iranshahr on the 11th of Tir of 1357 made Ayatollah Khamenei – who had previous experience in organizing relief and rescue programs - lead the only relief and rescue group in Iranshahr. Through his collaborations with the clergy in different cities – including Yazd and Mashhad – he managed to gather charities and divide them among the flood victims. 

During his exile, Ayatollah Khamenei preserved his relationships with well-known activists and ulama in different cities of Iran. He was always in correspondence with them about the issue of the Islamic movement, thereby becoming aware of many events and incidents. Through different letters, he participated in the collective decisions of ulama.

Internal Exile to Jiroft

When the Islamic Revolution reached its peak on the 28th of Tir of 1357 – a few days before the month of Ramadan – a number of the clergy of Mashhad Islamic Seminary expressed their opposition to the continuation of Ayatollah Khamenei’s exile and asked for his return to Mashhad. This led to the interference of the police. One the one hand, the development of the revolutionary and popular activities of Ayatollah Khamenei with the purpose of organizing revolutionary activities in Iranshahr and the surrounding areas and on the other hand, his increasing popularity among the people of that city made intelligence agents change his place of exile to Jiroft, Kerman Province.

Compared to Iranshahr, Jiroft was a remote area with more limitations. He was transferred to Jiroft on the 22nd of Mordad. However, the political activities of Ayatollah Khamenei did not stop in Jiroft either. As soon as he entered the city, he engaged in speaking against the Pahlavi regime in the Jameh Mosque of this city. One of his speeches, which was delivered on the 15th of Shahrivar of 1357, led to demonstrations and revolutionary slogans by the people.

This happened during a time when demonstrations and rallies had not become common in small cities yet. He was one of the clergy who wrote a letter to Ayatollah Sayyid Abdol Hossein Dastgheib. In this letter, he presented ways for continuing the Islamic movement and overthrowing the Pahlavi regime as well as explaining different events in the country and condemning the crimes of the Pahlavi regime in Shiraz, Isfahan and Jahrom. Later, he secretly went to Kahnuj and delivered speeches against the regime.

Return to Mashhad

With the development of popular activities, the tumultuous conditions of the regime and its inability to control the Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei returned to Mashhad on the first of Mehr of 1357. There, he continued his activities in the area of organizing the Revolution and reinforcing revolutionary activities.

During the time when Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was residing in France, he and a number of revolutionary ulama of Mashhad sent a telegram to him, describing his temporary residence in France as an opportunity for creating a wave of hope, determination and resolution in the hearts of the people and a sign of his determination and willpower on the path of saving the Muslim people of Iran. In this telegram, they asked him to issue the necessary commands for continuing the struggle and fighting and for preparing the ground for his return to Iran.

In a short time, the revolutionary activities of Ayatollah Khamenei in Mashhad gathered more pace. As well as organizing the people’s movements and rallies, he delivered speeches against the regime for the people of Mashhad.  He was also in contact with Imam’s (r.a.) household and other revolutionary activists. It was because of this contact that Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini (r.a.) called Ayatollah Saddouqi from Paris on the 10th of Aban of 1357 and announced Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) willingness to meet with him and Ayatollah Khamenei.

Ayatollah Khamenei was one of the clergy who delivered a speech to cultural personalities of Mashhad in Saad Abad Stadium, asking for Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) return and forming an Islamic government. On the last days of Aban, Ayatollah Khamenei together with Sayyid Abdol Karim Hashemi Nejad departed for Quchan, Shirvan and Bojnourd. In these cities, they delivered a number of speeches with the purpose of furthering the Revolution. His increasing and influential activities in Mashhad made the intelligence agents of the Pahlavi regime arrest him. In the reports that SAVAK prepared, Ayatollah Khamenei was described as one of the torchbearers of the Revolution in Khorasan.

The Speech in Imam Ridha’s (a.s.) Shrine in Ashura of 1357

Ayatollah Khamenei delivered an enthusiastic speech to the great gathering of the people of Mashhad on the 19th and 20th of Azar – coincident with Tasu’a and Ashura. On behalf of Imam Khomeini (r.a.), he delivered the Night of Ashura sermon. With this revolutionary act, he broke the traditional taboo of the Pahlavi regime. Before this, this ceremony was held in a formal way and by praying for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Furthermore, he organized the great rally of the people of Mashhad on the day of Ashura and he delivered a speech there. He was one of the clergy who brought up the issue of holding a demonstration in Shah Reza Hospital [Now Imam Ridha (a.s.) Hospital] in opposition to the attack that the agents of the Pahlavi regime had launched on this hospital.

When the clergy were on their way to hold a demonstration, many people joined them. By drawing up a manifesto, the demonstrators explained the crimes of the Pahlavi agents and asked for their punishment. They also asked for the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime and the return of Imam (r.a.). This course of action had wide repercussions throughout the country and many pamphlets were published all over the country in their support. 

Mashhad Demonstrations on the 9th of Dey of 1357

On the 9th of Dey of 1357, Ayatollah Khamenei and a number of revolutionary ulama of Mashhad led a large number of the people to the Provincial Government Building. This move was made to make the personnel of Khorasan Province government join the Revolution. But despite their peaceful efforts, the police in the building fired at the crowd. As a result, the demonstrators took to the streets and riots broke out in which some state buildings and centers were torched.

In the night of this event, the ulama of Mashhad including Ayatollah Khamenei tried to stop the killing of more people by holding a meeting, but the agents of the Pahlavi regime created the “Bloody Sunday of the 10th of Dey” of 1357 by massacring the people. In the wake of this event, Ayatollah Khamenei and other Mashhadi clergy issued a manifesto to condemn this event and to continue the movement. 

Membership in the Council of the Islamic Revolution

When the process of the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime gathered pace and when signs of the final victory of the Islamic movement showed themselves, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) issued a command asking for the formation of the Council of the Islamic Revolution on the 22nd of Dey of 1357. Ayatollah Khamenei, whom Imam (r.a.) appointed as one of the members of this council, left Mashhad – where he had a pivotal role in the developments of the Islamic Revolution - and went to Tehran in late Dey of 1357.

He stayed in Refah School and played an active role in organizing the final stage of the Islamic Revolution and planning for the future. He was accompanied by other revolutionary activists including Shahid Beheshti, Shahid Motahhari and Shahid Mofatteh. After the committee in charge of welcoming Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was formed by the Council of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei took responsibility of the promotion committee.   

Sit-In at University of Tehran Mosque

When the airports of the country were closed by order of the Shah-appointed Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in order to prevent Imam (r.a.) from returning to the country, Ayatollah Khamenei as well as Ayatollah Beheshti and a number of other well-known revolutionary clergy staged a large sit-in at the University of Tehran Mosque in opposition to this measure. When other ulama, academic personalities and the people joined them, the sit-in expanded to a greater extent.

The night before the sit-in, Ayatollah Beheshti delivered a speech in Behesht-e Zahra and Ayatollah Khamenei read out the resolution which he himself had prepared. With this program, the following day’s sit-in at the University of Tehran Mosque became certain. Throughout the sit-in, Ayatollah Khamenei and other ulama adopted certain measures such as delivering speeches, issuing manifestos and publishing a pamphlet named “Sit-In”.

By issuing a manifesto on the eighth of Bahman, the demonstrators stressed that they would continue the sit-in until the airports of the country allow Imam Khomeini (r.a.) to enter the country. This sit-in which continued until the morning of the 12th of Bahman turned the University of Tehran Mosque into an influential center in the process of revolutionary activities.

In the historical moment of Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) arrival in the country on the 12th of Bahman of 1357, Ayatollah Khamenei and many other ulama and revolutionary activists went to Mehr Abad Airport to welcome Imam (r.a.). Throughout the following 10 days, Ayatollah Khamenei was always with Imam (r.a.) and offered him counsel. He also accepted the responsibility of managing Imam’s (r.a.) committee in charge of promotion with the purpose of confronting the propaganda of domestic and foreign opponents, opportunistic parties and different political groups. He also engaged in publishing pamphlets such as “Imam”. He himself wrote a number of articles and published them in the same pamphlet.

3.2. The First Decade of the Islamic Revolution: Bahman 1357- Khordad 1368

3.2.1. Political Activities

The Council of the Islamic Revolution

One of the first arenas in which Ayatollah Khamenei played a decisive role to form the current Islamic Republic was membership in the Council of the Islamic Revolution. This council was formed after Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) move to France in the Mehr of 1357 and when the signs of the victory of the Islamic Revolution became clear. It was formed at Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) command and its members were chosen by him. But it was officially announced near the victory of the Islamic Revolution – the 22nd of Dey of 1357 – because of different considerations.

The first members of the council were Morteza Motahhari, Sayyid Mohammad Husseini Beheshti, Sayyid Abdol Karim Musavi Ardabili, Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Mohammad Jawad Bahonar and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Later on, other personalities joined this council. In late Dey of 1357, Ayatollah Khamenei participated in the meetings of the council.

At this stage, the council was in charge of adopting important measures about revolutionary activities. Some of these measures included negotiation with Pahlavi officials and officials of other countries – including America – and forming the committee in charge of welcoming Imam (r.a.). Another important measure adopted by the council just before the victory of the Revolution was introducing to Imam (r.a.) Mehdi Bazargan as the head of the interim government.

After the victory of the Revolution, these were the responsibilities of the council: Passing laws in the absence of the legislative branch, carrying out part of the responsibilities of the executive branch after the interim government and the Council of the Islamic Revolution were merged in Tir of 1358 and carrying out all executive responsibilities after the resignation of the interim government on the 14th of Aban of 1358. 

As well as these main responsibilities, the council was a point of reference for solving the problems of the newly-established Islamic government and for offering counsel to Imam (r.a.). Despite the fact that the members of the Council of the Islamic Revolution were changed several times until the end of its activities on the 29th of Tir of 1359, Ayatollah Khamenei remained its permanent member. Resistance against the opinions and positions of liberal members of the council and constant warnings about the necessity of preventing the members and supporters of the communist Tudeh Party of Iran and other opposing parties from penetrating the army and the culture of the country were among his important positions in the meetings and decisions of the council. He believed that people from different social backgrounds should have their members in the council.

The issues of Kurdistan, Sistan-Baluchistan and other parts of the country and the necessity of preserving national unity were other important issues that he paid attention to in the Council of the Islamic Revolution. He believed that the interim government had a poor performance on the issue of Kurdistan and that this issue should be solved through different ways so that it does not afflict other parts of the country. On the issue of Sistan-Baluchistan too, he stressed that they should improve the economic and living conditions of the people, considering his experience during the time of exile and his awareness of the political and social conditions of that area. 

On the 9th of Farvardin of 1358, Imam (r.a.) asked him to form a group and go to that area to attend to the requests and problems of the people and to prepare a report about its conditions. On this trip, he met with local leaders and influential personalities and explained to them the policies of the Islamic Republic as well as carrying out this responsibility.   

Supporting the idea of establishing and strengthening revolutionary and popular organizations such as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Construction Jihad were among his other positions in the Council of the Islamic Revolution.

Cooperation with Shahid Chamran

With the merger of the interim government and the Council of the Islamic Revolution in late Tir of 1358, a number of the members of the council were appointed to sensitive ministries. Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed as the Deputy of Revolutionary Affairs in the Ministry of Defense. At that time, Dr. Mostafa Chamran was the minister of defense. Also, in the process of merging the Council of the Islamic Revolution and the interim government – which had been done with the purpose of giving focus to the executive work – he was appointed to the commission of security ministers. In this commission, he was entrusted with the responsibility of all military and security issues such as resolving the crises of Gonbad, Kurdistan and Khuzestan and confronting the measures of anti-revolutionary parties and groups.

Taking Charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps

Other important responsibilities that he was entrusted with by the Council of the Islamic Revolution were managing the Center of Documents and leading the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the third of Azar of 1358. Before this appointment, he had participated in the meetings of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as representative of the council.

The reason why he was appointed as head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was that there were a number of differences in this organization. These differences had been shaped in a few months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and they had not been resolved. Ayatollah Khamenei - who was one of the supporters of popular military forces, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – tried to give it efficient organization as well as resolving the existing differences. On the 5th of Esfand of 1358, he resigned from the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps because he wanted to put himself forward as a candidate in the first term of the Majlis.

Founding the Islamic Republic Party

In the final days leading to the victory of the Islamic Revolution and after that, Ayatollah Khamenei, Sayyid Mohammad Husseini Beheshti, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sayyid Abdol Karim Musavi Ardabili and Mohammad Jawad Bahonar were trying to found a revolutionary organization. Ayatollah Khamenei was also part of this project as well as his efficient presence in the Council of the Islamic Revolution and managing the affairs of the Revolution in the period of transition.

This organization was officially announced with the name of the Islamic Republic Party on the 29th of Bahman of 1357. However, the idea to found it goes back to meetings in Mashhad in the summer of 1356 in which a number of revolutionary activists – including the future founders of the party – decided to form an organization for opposing the Pahlavi regime and developing Islamic political philosophy. During its unofficial activities in the months leading to the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the party played a leading role in organizing rallies and speeches. The activities of Ayatollah Khamenei were noteworthy in this regard.

Some of the reasons for founding the Islamic Republic Party were: filling the gap that originated from a lack of efficient organization in protecting and supporting the newly-established Islamic Republic, helping the Revolution to prevail, preserving the unity of the people and their presence on the scene, laying the main foundations for the Islamic Republic, preserving the pivotal role of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) in the post-revolutionary era, deepening genuine Islamic thought in the hearts of the people, providing political guidance to the people on a daily basis, providing manpower for executive organizations in order to achieve the goals of the Islamic Revolution and adopting decisive and genuine positions in the face of the deceptions of domestic and foreign enemies.

He was one of those people who prepared the platform and the manifesto of the party. He also accepted the responsibility of promotions for it. He was the founder of the central council of the party. In general, he played an explanatory and expositive role during its foundation. He announced the positions of the party in the form of speeches and pamphlets and he also played a role in opening a branch in Mashhad which occured on the 26th of Esfand of 1357.     

Appointment as Secretary General of the Islamic Republic Party

After Ayatollah Beheshti and Dr. Bahonar – the first and second secretary generals of the party – Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed by the central council of the party as the third general secretary in Shahrivar of 1360. In the years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution until the firm establishment of the Islamic Republic in the 1360s, the Islamic Republic Party was an important base and foundation of the government and it acted outside the official political structure of the country. In fact, it preserved the foundations of the Islamic Republic.

Ayatollah Khamenei considered the Islamic Republic Party to be a necessary organization for preserving the entirety of the newly-established Islamic Republic. The first congress of the party was held in Ordibehesht of 1362. He was appointed for the second time as secretary general of the party and also as member of the central council and the council of arbitration. Even during the time of his presidency, he took part in its meetings in Tehran and other cities. As well as specifying its responsibilities and delineating its goals, he answered the questions of the branches and members of the party.  

He was the secretary general of this party even during the second term of his presidency. At that point, the activities of the party decreased because of different reasons such as: resolving the crises that had arisen in the first years of the Revolution, the establishment of certain foundations and organizations which the Islamic Republic needed and in which the party played a leading role in establishing and strengthening  – the preoccupation of the pivotal personalities of the party such as Ayatollah Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani with important administrative responsibilities, the loss of its influential founders [after the 7th of Tir terrorist bombings]  and the dissatisfaction of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) with the party because he believed that it had turned from a uniting element to an element for creating discord and reinforcing partisan differences inside the party.

As a result, the party lost the efficiency that it had in its first years. Therefore, Ayatollah Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani wrote a letter to Imam (r.a.) in early Khordad of 1366, asking for the cancellation of its activities. They stated that the reasons were the appearance of partisan differences inside the party and its danger for the unity and solidarity of society. Imam Khomeini (r.a.) agreed with this request on the 11th of Khordad and consequently, the party was closed.

Appointment as Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran

On the 24th of Dey of 1358, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) appointed Ayatollah Khamenei as Friday prayer leader of Tehran due to his achievements and competence in the area of knowledge and action. He led his first Friday prayer on the 28th of Dey of 1358. He continued to lead all Friday prayers - the only exception was his trip to India for diplomatic purposes and this trip lasted from the 21st of Bahman until the 6th of Esfand of 1359 - until the event of the 6th of Tir of 1360 during which there was an attempt to assassinate him in Abuzar Mosque. As a result of this attempt on his life, he was seriously wounded.

Even after this period, he continued to be the Friday prayer leader of Tehran. His important and innovative measure in the area of Friday prayer leadership was the suggestion to hold congresses for Friday prayer leaders throughout the country with the purpose of uniting the network of Friday prayer leaders inside the country and throughout the world of Islam. After Imam Khomeini agreed with this measure, the first congress was held in Feyziyyah School in Qom and many more congresses followed.

During Friday prayer sermons, he presented the most important, decisive, ideological and strategic positions of the Islamic Republic and he engaged in deepening the religious thought and the political outlook of society. Conducting some sermons in Arabic – which addressed Muslims throughout the world of Islam – was one of the characteristics of his sermons.

Election in the Majlis

After putting himself forward as candidate for the first term of the Majlis in Esfand of 1358, he was supported by the large parliamentary group called “The Forces of Imam’s (r.a.) Line” which was made up of the Society of Revolutionary Clergy of Tehran, the Islamic Republic Party and several other Islamic groups. Thus, he entered the Majlis as a candidate from Tehran.

In the Majlis, he headed the committee in charge of defense. During the time when he was in charge, many bills, plans and issues were discussed most important of which were providing manpower for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, merging Basij-e Mostazafeen with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, attending to the issue of Kurdistan province, issues related to border areas and the issue of Sistan-Baluchistan province, and reorganizing the army.

One of the important positions that he adopted when he was a member of the Majlis was his noteworthy speech in ratifying the bill to announce the political incompetence of Bani Sadr for the presidency. With the outbreak of the war between Iran and Iraq on the 31st Shahrivar of 1359, he had less participation in Majlis sessions because of his presence in the front lines. After his serious injury on the 6th of Tir of 1360, he could participate with difficulty in these sessions. Finally, when he was elected as the president in Mehr of 1360, he left the legislative branch.

Activities During the Sacred Defense Era

From the first hours of the outbreak of the war between Iran and Iraq, Ayatollah Khamenei played an active role in it. A few hours after the first attack of Iraq on Iran, he prepared the news about the transgression of the Ba’athist regime against Iran and announced it to the people by radio. On the second day of the war, he participated in the meeting of the army for finding ways to confront the military transgression of Iraq. When it was decided that someone should go to the front lines to analyze the situation, he was the first person to accept the responsibility.

On the 5th of Mehr of 1359, he joined the front lines after gaining the permission of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) in order to prepare a report about the conditions of the front lines and the resources of the Iranian armed forces and to organize them for confronting the enemy. He joined the southern fronts and stayed there until the mid-spring of 1360. Afterwards, he went to the western fronts, but the purpose of his presence was to lead Friday prayers, to prepare reports for Imam Khomeini (r.a.), to hold necessary meetings and to deliver speeches.

He participated in several military operations and played a role in organizing them. Providing the military needs of Basij and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was another role that he played in the arena of the war. Much of his time in the front lines was spent on guiding and supporting the committee in charge of organizing irregular warfare – which had been founded by Mostafa Chamran. One of the important tasks of this committee, in which Ayatollah Khamenei was involved directly, was training military forces for hunting tanks.

Furthermore, he played an efficient role in backing Khoramshahr, Abadan and Susangerd fronts and in strengthening and supplying popular military forces such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Basij. Another effort that he made was to facilitate coordination between the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Army.

Appointment as Imam’s (r.a.) Representative to the Council of Defense

With Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) command, the Council of Defense took charge of all military affairs on the 20th of Mehr of 1359. Previously, Ayatollah Khamenei had been appointed as Imam’s (r.a.) representative and spokesman in this council on the 20th of Ordibehesht of 1359. During this time, he acted as Imam’s (r.a.) counselor on the issue of war. He usually talked to the press after the end of the council’s meetings and he informed the people of its decisions.

Breaking the Siege of Abadan

Ayatollah Khamenei participated directly in the operation to break the siege of Abadan. On the issue of Khoramshahr, he believed that one can prevent its loss by adopting proper military measures. He even wrote a letter to AbolHassan Bani Sadr, the president and the commander-in-chief of the Iranian armed forces at the time, saying that the capturing of Khoramshahr by the Iraqis can be prevented if two brigades are deployed around Susangerd. However, Bani Sadr did not pay attention to this suggestion.

A short time after the outbreak of the war, a number of international personalities and organizations tried to establish peace between the two countries. Ayatollah Khamenei believed that no peace should be established as long as Iraq does not accept Iran’s main terms including retreating to its borders, paying reparations and accepting punishment. He said, “If Iraq does not accept these terms, we will throw it out of our lands by force”. He also believed that an imposed peace is worse than the war itself. Nonetheless, he considered the comings and goings of peace groups to be beneficial because this would clarify the crimes of Saddam Hussein and his forces against the people of Iran and it would prove the innocence of Iran.

War: The Most Important Issue During His Presidency

During the two terms of Ayatollah Khamenei’s presidency, the war was the most important issue of the country. Frtom 1360 until 1364, certain developments took place which changed the equation of the war to the advantage of Iran. Iraqi forces were driven out of most occupied lands and many military operations were organized with the unity of the high-ranking officials of the country including Ayatollah Khamenei who was the head of the Council of Defense.

Simultaneous with these developments, the diplomatic presence of Iran in international arenas became more active. During seven years out of the eight years of his presidency – which coincided with the war – he engaged in negotiating with the peace groups which had been appointed by international, Islamic and regional organizations.

Because of Imam’s (r.a.) disagreement with his presence in the war during his presidency, he had less participation, but in the final phase of the war, he obtained the permission of Imam (r.a.) to join the front lines because of the critical conditions of the armed forces. His goal was to bring about a great transformation in the condition of the Iranian armed forces.

During his presidency, Ayatollah Khamenei was also the head of the Council of War Assistance. This council was formed in the year 1365 because of the critical conditions in the front lines and with the purpose of providing resources for the armed forces and adopting effective measures in the area of organization. In response to his request, Imam Khomeini on the 19th of Esfand of 1366 ordered that all the bills of the council should be implemented until the end of the war. 

In the summer of 1367 and in the last year of Ayatollah Khamenei’s presidency, the war between Iran and Iraq came to an end after Iran accepted Resolution 598. This resolution was accepted in a meeting which Ayatollah Khamenei presided and in which the high-ranking officials of the country were present. With Imam’s (r.a.) agreement, it was officially announced.

In a message, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) said to the people of Iran that accepting the resolution was very bitter and difficult and that he accepted it only because of the interests of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic: “Accepting this issue is more difficult than drinking poison, but I am satisfied with God’s satisfaction and I drink this poisoned chalice because of His satisfaction. Only the officials of the country were involved in accepting this resolution and no individual and country interfered in making this decision”. Following this decision, Ayatollah Khamenei announced to Javier Pérez de Cuéllar - the Secretary General of the United Nations at the time – that Iran would accept Resolution 598. 

3.2.2. Promotional and Explanatory Activities

An important part of political and religious activities of Ayatollah Khamenei after the victory of the Islamic Revolution until his election as the president was his promotional activities with the purpose of strengthening the Islamic Republic.

Imam’s (r.a.) Advice to Students: Rely on Ayatollah Khamenei

With the martyrdom of Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari and the gap that had been created among students and academic personalities because of his loss, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) described Ayatollah Khamenei as a wise and eloquent individual in a meeting with students in Khordad of 1358. He appointed Ayatollah Khamenei as the official in charge of attending to the intellectual and ideological needs of students and confronting the propaganda of parties which opposed the Islamic Republic – particularly Marxist groups in academic environments.

Since this announcement until the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war on the 31st of Shahrivar of 1359, he would go to the University of Tehran Mosque to meet with students. As well as leading public prayers and delivering speeches on important days, he answered the intellectual and political questions of students. Later on, these meetings continued in important mosques of Tehran. The attempt to assassinate him occurred in one of these meetings.

Preventing the Dissolution the Assembly of Experts in Charge of Ratifying the Constitution

Another task that he carried out was to confront the efforts that some members of the interim government had made to dissolve the Assembly of Experts in Charge of Ratifying the Constitution. A letter had been written with the signatures of 15 people – the ministers and members of the interim government – to announce the dissolution of this assembly to the people before discussing it with Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

They had decided to hand in their mass resignation if Imam (r.a.) disagreed with them. Ayatollah Khamenei who participated in the meetings of the ministers on behalf of the Council of the Islamic Revolution expressed his disagreement with the letter and stressed that Imam (r.a.) should be informed of it before its announcement. After Imam (r.a.) became aware of the situation, he rejected their proposal and stressed that the Assembly of Experts in Charge of Ratifying the Constitution should continue to work.   

Promotional Trip to India

On the second anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution which had coincided with the geginning of the 15th century of the Lunar Hijri calendar, many delegations departed – as representatives of the Islamic Republic - for different countries throughout the world to delineate and clarify the positions and outlooks of the Islamic Republic and the characteristics of the Islamic Revolution to other nations, particularly Muslim nations.

Ayatollah Khamenei headed the delegations to India. He travelled to cities and regions such as New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kashmir for about two weeks in late Bahman and early Esfand of 1359. In different speeches, meetings and interviews with local newspapers, students, university professors, political groups, Islamic personalities and Shia Muslims, he introduced the true identity of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the Islamic Republic and he explained different issues such as the war with Iraq. He also met with Mrs. Gandhi, the prime minister of India at the time, who was a well-known personality.

Confronting Liberals and Bani Sadr

One of the important issues of the Iranian society in the early years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution was the existence and activities of two influential parties named “The Forces of Imam’s (r.a.) Line” and “Liberals” in the official political structure of the country. Many followers, friends and counselors of Imam – including Ayatollah Khamenei – were members of the Forces of Imam’s (r.a.) Line.

The well-known personality of the Liberals – which had many differences with the Forces of Imam’s (r.a.) Line in terms of political outlook - was AbolHassan Bani Sadr. Ayatollah Khamenei (r.a.) considered Bani Sadr to be representative of an orientation that instigated fitna and pit high-ranking officials against one other. He considered this orientation the instigator of uproar in society. However, despite the fact that he had fundamental differences with Bani Sadr and his orientation, he did not express his opposition to Bani Sadr in public meetings in order to preserve unity in society and because Imam (r.a.) had stressed the necessity of preserving unity.

In a number of cases, he asked Imam Khomeini (r.a.) to resolve the issue. After the overt deviation of Bani Sadr from the essence and nature of the Islamic Revolution and the Constitution and when Majlis passed a bill declaring Bani Sadr as politically incompetent for the presidency on the 30th of Khordad of 1360, Ayatollah Khamenei delivered an influential speech in support of the bill.    

From 1358 until the first of Tir of 1360, Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his opposition to the Liberals and the Nationalists. He also expressed his opposition to preserving the military office of America in Iran and changing its name by the interim government. On the issue of appointing ministers and deputy ministers and on the issue of purging dishonest and corrupt politicians from governmental offices and organizations, he was opposed to appointing those people who did not have revolutionary principles and who supported compromise with America and establishing relations with western-backed Arab countries.

3.2.3. Assassination Attempt on Ayatollah Khamenei’s Life by Monafeqin

On the 6th of Tir of 1360, when he was delivering a speech after noon prayers in Abuzar Mosque – located in south of Tehran - Ayatollah Khamenei was seriously wounded as a result of a bomb that was installed in a cassette recorder placed in front of him. In a message addressed to him, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) condemned this attempt on his life and praised him. As a result of this attempt, his chest, arms and right hand were seriously wounded.

Unofficial reports considered the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization to be the perpetrator of this crime. Ayatollah Khamenei was the first person who was targeted in the events following the deposal of Bani Sadr from the presidency. He was discharged from the hospital on the 18th of Mordad of 1360 and returned to political and social scenes. He managed to participate in Majlis sessions from the 26th of Mordad of 1360.

3.3.Presidency

The First Term: Election with 95 Percent of the Votes

After the martyrdom of Mohammad Ali Rajai – the second president of the Islamic Iran – the central council of the Islamic Republic Party and the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom chose Ayatollah Khamenei as their candidate for presidency despite the fact that he was reluctant. Before this, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) was opposed to the candidacy of the clergy for presidency, but this time he agreed. 

After the announcement of his candidacy and being approved by the Guardian Council, different groups and personalities supported him. The most important supporter of Ayatollah Khamenei was the coalition of the Forces of Imam’s Line. The elections were held on the 10th of Mehr of 1360 and Ayatollah Khamenei was elected as the president by winning most votes – 95.11 percent of the votes. On the 17th of Mehr of 1360, Imam Khomeini approved his presidency and he took the oath of office in the Majlis as the third president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On the 27th of Mehr of 1360, He introduced to Majlis Ali Akbar Velayati – who was a member of the central council of the Islamic Republic Party and a member of the Forces of Imam’s (r.a.) Line – as the prime minister. However, he did not manage to win the majority of the votes on the 30th of Mehr of 1360. On the 4th of Aban of 1360, Ayatollah Khamenei introduced to the Majlis Mir Hossein Musavi – member of the central council of the Islamic Republic Party, the editor-in-chief of the Islamic Republic Newspaper and the minister in charge of foreign affairs in the Rajai, Bahonar and Mahdavi Kani administrations – as the prime minister. He managed to win the majority of the votes on the 6th of Aban of 1360.

Ayatollah Khamenei began his presidency during a time when the Presidency did not enjoy a solid organizational structure. No counseling group had been established to help the president carry out his legal responsibilities and this had created many problems for the president’s performance. Gradually, the Presidential Office was formed with several counselors and executives.

In the beginning, Ayatollah Khamenei focused part of his efforts on creating a solid structure for the Presidential Office. Later, because of ambiguity about the responsibilities of the president – this problem had become clear in the first term, particularly during cooperation with the prime minister – a bill delineating the presidential powers was prepared and it was passed by the Majlis on the 16th of Ordibehesht of 1365.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s plans for the first term were attending to the issues of the imposed war, adopting economic policies in favor of underprivileged classes and people living in remote areas, destroying the taghuti lifestyle in the bureaucratic, social and political life of the nation, discovering and benefitting from talents in all arenas ranging from industry to art, ensuring social, bureaucratic and judiciary security in order to render good services to the people and ensuring the security and freedom of all people loyal to the Islamic Republic no matter what ideas and thoughts they had.

In the second term too, as well as continuing the plans of the first term most important of which was paying attention to the issues of the imposed war, Ayatollah Khamenei’s important programs were: preparing the bill of presidential powers, decreasing the responsibilities of the executive branch and entrusting affairs to the people, appointing competent and revolutionary officials in the administration, eliminating extreme poverty in society, giving agricultural lands to the people, entrusting the cooperative sector with the responsibility of managing governmental industries, giving shares to laborers in factories, developing non-oil exports, reducing the dependence of the country on oil, helping the people to participate in economic and cultural issues with the supervision of the government and moving towards cultural independence.

In the area of foreign policy, the main tasks were:  adopting separate and distinct policies about each country in the world, making decisions on the basis of the interests of the country with decisiveness and courage, achieving independence from the east and the west, attaching importance to the unity of Muslims throughout the world, making serious efforts to assert the rights of Muslims all over the world, showing resistance against any move and measure on the path of the domination of superpowers in the region, paying careful attention to the issue of Quds and other occupied Palestinian lands, preparing the ground for fighting against the Zionist enemy, returning to the rich and original Islamic culture as a dam against enemies and transgressors, and showing efficient presence on the international scene. 

The Second Presidential Term

Considering the problems and differences of opinion with the prime minister and a number of cabinet members in the first term, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution was not willing to run for the presidency for a second term. But when Imam Khomeini (r.a.) described his candidacy as a religious obligation, he decided to announce his candidacy for the second term and he asked Imam (r.a.) to have authority in appointing the prime minister and Imam (r.a.) agreed with his request.

After he was re-elected as the president, a number of military personalities found out that Ayatollah Khamenei decides to appoint someone else as the prime minister because of his dissatisfaction with the management of the prime minister in the first term. Therefore, they went to Imam (r.a.) and said that progress on the front lines depends on the re-election of Mir- Hussein Musavi as the prime minister. Because of the priority of the war, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) accepted this and ordered Ayatollah Khamenei to introduce Musavi as the prime minister. In obedience to Imam’s (r.a.) command and despite his reluctance, he introduced him as the prime minister. In the second term of the presidency of Ayatollah Khamenei, the tensions between the president and the prime minister increased and it was reinforced in certain cases such as introducing cabinet members to the Majlis.

3.3.1. Political and Cultural Activities During Presidency

Reforms in the Committee of Cultural Revolution

On the 8th of Shahrivar of 1362, Ayatollah Khamenei became in charge of carrying out the first reform in the Committee of Cultural Revolution at Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) command. Imam (r.a.) had issued this command because of the president’s request for reopening universities. He also adopted the second reform in this committee at Imam’s (r.a.) command. This was done on the 19th of Azar of 1363.

In this reform, the Committee of Cultural Revolution was changed to the Council of Cultural Revolution and the president became the head of this Council. The Leader of the Islamic Revolution had this position until the end of his presidency in Tir of 1368 during which he played a crucial role in developing important cultural policies.

Activeness of Iran’s Foreign Policy During Ayatollah Khamenei’s Presidency

During the eight-year presidency of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s foreign policy and diplomacy became very active. One of the characteristics of Iran’s foreign relations during this time was the president’s trips to different countries with the purpose of developing relations. These trips began in the first term and expanded in the second term.

In the first term, Ayatollah Khamenei travelled to countries such as Syria, Libya and Algeria from the 15th to the 20th of Shahrivar of 1363. In the second term, he travelled to Asian and African countries such as Pakistan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique from the 23rd of Dey until the third of Bahman of 1364. In Shahrivar of 1365, he travelled again to Harare in Zimbabwe for participating in the 8th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement and he spoke with a number of heads of non-aligned countries. In Esfand of 1367, he travelled to Yugoslavia and Romania and in Ordibehesht of 1368, he travelled to China and North Korea.   

On the 31st of Shahrivar of 1366, Ayatollah Khamenei participated in the 42nd meeting of the United National General Assembly and he explained the outlook and positions of the Islamic Republic of Iran for government officials of other countries. This was the first presence of the president of Islamic Iran in the United National General Assembly. The important point on the trip to the United Nations was the warm reception of Iranians, Muslims resident in New York and international press to Ayatollah Khamenei and his activities because of his effort to explain the conditions of the Islamic Revolution, the imposed war and the policies of global arrogance against Iran. Leading Friday prayers for the Muslims of New York and his sermons there was a noteworthy and important point of this trip.

Another important measure that Ayatollah Khamenei adopted in the area of foreign policy was establishing strong and close relations with Shia political groups in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, helping these groups to establish friendly relations with one another. He also formed the Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He did something to turn the differences between these groups into unity and solidarity against the common enemy.

Furthermore, he played a role in forming the Islamic Unity Party which put an end to the harmful competition between the eight parties of Afghanistan. These were the manifestations of his outlook. At that time, Iran’s support of Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan increased. This brought about an outstanding regional and international position for Iran.

Provincial Trips

Meeting with people from different social backgrounds, visiting different organizations and foundations, participating in the inauguration ceremonies, taking part in different congresses and visiting many provinces were among the other programs of Ayatollah Khamenei during his presidency. His meetings with the people on different occasions - such as meeting with the families of martyrs and paying a visit to their houses - were among his fixed programs. It was an innovative act in the relationship between the officials of the country and the people.

Another innovative and efficient task that he carried out was his trips to different provinces and areas of the country with the purpose of meeting with people from different social backgrounds – particularly people in underprivileged areas – gaining familiarity about their problems, resolving differences between local officials, following up issues about the war, facilitating cooperation between the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Army, meeting with the outstanding personalities of these cities and villages and analyzing their economic problems.

Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) Letter to Ayatollah Khamenei on the Issue of Wilayat-e Faqih

On the 16th of Dey of 1366, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei about his statements in Friday prayer sermons on the issue of Wilayat-e Faqih and the scope of the Islamic Republic’s powers. In this letter, Imam (r.a.) described the formation of the Islamic government as one of the first commands of Islam which has priority over all other issues. He described Wilayat-e Faqih as absolute.

In response to Imam’s (r.a.) letter, Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his theoretical and practical agreement with this outlook - furthermore, in a private meeting with Imam (r.a.), he discussed his purpose of making those statements. Imam Khomeini (r.a.) too immediately answered his letter on the same day, “I have had a close relationship with you from many years before the Revolution and thankfully, this relationship has prevailed until now. I consider you to be one of the strong arms of the Islamic Republic and a brother who is familiar with and committed to fiqhi issues and who strongly supports the principle of absolute Wilayat-e Faqih. Among my committed friends to Islam and Islamic principles, you are one of the few people who casts light like the sun”.

The First Head of the Expediency Council

Following differences between the Majlis and the Guardian Council in passing different bills, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) expressed his agreement with the establishment of the Expediency Council on the 17th of Bahman of 1366. This was done in response to the letter that a number of high-ranking officials of the country – including Ayatollah Khamenei – had written. Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed as the first head of this Council and he continued to hold this position until the end of his presidency.

The Different Missions That Ayatollah Khamenei Carried Out at Imam’s (r.a.) Command

During his eight-year presidency, like the years before the Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei was one of the close and trusted companions and counselors of Imam (r.a.). For this reason, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) entrusted him with many responsibilities which were beyond the scope of the presidency. Imam (r.a.) accepted many proposals that Ayatollah Khamenei brought forward. On the 15th of Farvardin of 1362, he entrusted the task of improving and developing the Islamic Republic of Iran Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to Ayatollah Khamenei.

Furthermore, on the first of Aban of 1362, he assigned him the task of obtaining Iran’s debt from America and other countries. On the first of Azar of the same year, he agreed with Ayatollah Khamenei’s proposal on the issue of forming the Intelligence Bureau of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army. On the 9th of Dey of 1362, he assigned Ayatollah Khamenei the revision of the Punishment Bill. On the 23 of Bahman of 1367, Imam (r.a.) asked him to meet with the members of Council of Judiciary Affairs with the purpose of discussing their plans. In the end, Imam (r.a.) agreed with the bill that they prepared in a meeting between the heads of the three branches of the government. On the 4th of Esfand of 1367, he wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei, asking him to attend to the problems of the Iraqi residents of Iran.   

Presence in the Constitutional Amendment Council

On the 4th of Ordibehesht of 1368, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) issued a command to Ayatollah Khamenei to choose 20 people including himself as well as five MPs of the Majlis – chosen by the Majlis itself – and to form the Constitutional Amendment Council. The goal was to revise and complete the Constitution. After this Council was formed, Ayatollah Meshkini was appointed as its head and Ayatollah Khamenei and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were appointed as his first and second deputies.

The council held 41 meetings about five main issues: determining Leadership qualities, specifying the responsibilities of the executive and judiciary branches, focusing on the management of the IRIB, analyzing ways for the possible future revision of the Constitution and determining the number of MPs. These meetings continued until after the demise of Imam Khomeini (r.a.).

3.4. The Leadership Era

As the people and officials were mourning the blessed body of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) on the 14th of Khordad of 1368, Ayatollah Khamenei – the president of the country at the time – read the political-divine testament of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) in a meeting with the presence of officials and military personalities. In the afternoon, the Assembly of Experts held a meeting to choose the Leader or the Leaders of the Islamic Republic. According to the Article 107 of the Constitution – which was ratified in the year 1358 – choosing the Leader was the responsibility of the Assembly of Experts.

On the issue of collective or individual Leadership, many members of the Assembly did not vote for collective leadership. When the idea of who should be the Leader was discussed, the name of Ayatollah Khamenei was mentioned. A number of the members of the Assembly of Experts were aware of Imam’s (r.a.) opinion about the competence of Ayatollah Khamenei for the Leadership after his demise. Imam had expressed his opinion in the presence of the heads of the three branches of the government, the prime minister and Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini. Therefore, the members of the Assembly of Experts asked the witnesses to clarify the issue. Two witnesses, who were members of the Assembly of Experts themselves, confirmed this.

Also, another statement by Imam (r.a.) was quoted in the meeting. Imam (r.a.) had pointed out Ayatollah Khamenei’s competence for the Leadership during his trip to China and North Korea. On the basis of these accounts, the election was held and the majority of the members appointed Ayatollah Khamenei as the Leader of the Islamic Republic by considering the late Imam’s (r.a.) opinion and the religious, scholarly and political eligibility of Ayatollah Khamenei. He himself spoke about this election, “While I was not aware of the issue of Imam’s (r.a.) opinion, I refused to accept it”. After amending the Constitution and holding the referendum, the Assembly of Experts held another election on the basis of the new Constitution and the majority of the members appointed him again. 

The reasons for Imam’s (r.a.) choice were Ayatollah Khamenei’s long efforts for achieving the Islamic government, his firm and clear belief in the Islam Revolution and the Islamic Republic, his decade-long political, executive and cultural activities for the establishment of the Islamic Republic, his religious broadmindedness, his scholarly mastery over religious principles, his individual and social behavior and his piety and ascetic lifestyle. On many occasions, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) had pointed to the competence, sense of commitment and valuable services of Ayatollah Khamenei on the path of the Islamic Republic.

  On the 7th of Tir of 1360, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) delivered a message about the failed attempt on the life of the future Leader of the Islamic Revolution. This is part of his message about this crime: “Now, the enemies of the Revolution have tried to assassinate you who are a descendent of the Holy Prophet’s (s.w.a.) and Hussein ibn Ali’s households, who have committed no crime except for rendering services to Islam and this Islamic country, who are a self-sacrificing soldier on the front lines of the war, who are a valuable teacher in the mihrab, an eloquent speaker in public prayers and a sympathetic guide on the scene of the Revolution, and who have proved your political understanding, your support of the truth and your opposition to oppressors. With their attempt on your life, they have hurt the feelings of millions of committed people throughout the world. They are so politically poor that they committed this crime immediately after your speech in the Majlis and in Friday prayers. They have tried to assassinate someone whose call of invitation echoes in the ears of Muslims throughout the world… I congratulate you dear Khamenei, you who are rendering services to these oppressed people in and behind the front lines as a soldier and a seminarian. And I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow health on you so that you can continue rendering services to Islam and Muslims”.

On the 8th of Shahrivar of 1365, he advised political personalities and officials to avoid finding faults with others and to behave like Ayatollah Khamenei who always offers genuine advice and who does not show off his services. In a letter written on the 21st of Dey of 1366, he addressed the issue of absolute Wilayat-e Faqih, saying, “I have had a close relationship with you from many years before the Revolution and thankfully, this relationship has prevailed until now. I consider you to be one of the strong arms of the Islamic Republic and a brother who is familiar with and committed to fiqhi issues and who strongly supports the principle of absolute Wilayat-e Faqih. Among my committed friends to Islam and Islamic principles, you are one of the few people who casts light like the sun”.

Hojjatolislam wal-Muslemin Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini, who was the closest person to Imam Khomeini (r.a.) and who was his trusted counselor, quoted Imam (r.a.) saying, “Indeed, he [Ayatollah Khamenei] is qualified for the Leadership”. This was said following Ayatollah Khamenei’s trip to foreign countries. Zahra Mostafavi, Imam’s (r.a.) daughter says, “When I asked Imam (r.a.) about the future Leader of the Islamic Republic, he mentioned Ayatollah Khamenei. When I asked about the scholarly position of Ayatollah Khamenei, he approved of his ijtihad”.

Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani says, “When Imam (r.a.) decided to remove Ayatollah Montazeri as the future Leader, a meeting was held with the presence of the heads of the three branches of the government, the prime minister [Mir Hossein Musavi] and Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini. Imam (r.a.) was asked about his successor and he mentioned Ayatollah Khamenei”. He also says that he expressed his concern about the issue of the Leadership in a private meeting and in response, Imam Khomeini (r.a.) mentioned Ayatollah Khamenei and said, “You will not reach a dead end. Such a person is among you. Why do you yourselves not know?”

Without a doubt, the time when Ayatollah Khamenei was elected as the Leader of the Islamic Republic was a very significant and sensitive time. Following Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) illness, the concerns that arose were: 1- The management of the country after Imam Khomeini (r.a.) 2- The incompletion of the process of amending the Constitution 3- Concerns about attacks or military moves by Iraq, America and monafeqin considering the fact that Iraq constantly violated ceasefires and that it used widespread propaganda to describe itself as the winner 4- The continuation of the crisis that had arisen after the publication of the book “The Satanic Verses” because of the strong reaction of western countries to Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) edict describing Salman Rushdie – the author of this book - as an apostate. But what turned all these concerns into a hope were:

  1. The short time in which Ayatollah Khamenei’s was elected as the Leader
  2. The burial of Imam Khomeini (r.a.) by tens of millions of Iranians, in the greatest farewell to a popular leader which eliminated the possibility of any plot by the enemy
  3. The oath of allegiance that the high-ranking officials of the country and different organizations took in support of Ayatollah Khamenei including Ayatollah al-Uzma Araki, Marashi Najafi, Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli, Ayatollah al-Uzma Golpayegani, Ayatollah Meshkini and outstanding personalities, seminarian and academic personalities, the families of martyrs and people from different social backgrounds
  4. A few hours after Ayatollah Khamenei’s election as the Leader, Hajj Sayyid Ahmad Khomeini sent a message of congratulations to him and said, “Hazrat Imam (r.a.) mentioned you many times as a great mujtahid and as the best person for the leadership of our Islamic government. I and all members of Imam’s (r.a.) household thank you honorable members of the Assembly of Experts sincerely because we believe that the soul of our dear Imam (r.a.) became happy and calm with this choice. Once more, like a little brother, I deem it imperative to obey the commands of this Wali-e Faqih”.
  5. This national allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei’s Leadership delivered the message that Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) successor firmly believes in his path and philosophy in theoretical and practical areas and that he would continue it with all his power. These oaths of allegiance were taken in the form of meetings, rallies, pamphlets, messages of congratulations and signings of letters. On the 40th day of Imam Khomeini’s (r.a.) demise, “The caravans of farewell with Imam (r.a.) and allegiance to the Leader” held a rally throughout the country. “The maneuvers of allegiance to the Leader” were held in border and strategic areas of the country and “Congresses of Farewell with Imam (r.a.) and Allegiance to the Leader” were formed in different cities. Allegiance to Ayatollah Khamenei continued until months after Imam’s (r.a.) demise and it proved to people all over the world that Iran would continue to raise the flag of the Islamic Ummah with the Leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei. 
  6. Ayatollah Khamenei’s decisive and permanent positions in continuing the path of Imam (r.a.), preserving unity and creating mutual trust between the people and the Leadership, his persistence in preserving religious principles, sharia and Islamic fiqh, his constant support of the underprivileged classes of society, his effort to create unity and solidarity between oppressed nations, his achievements in the area of giving dignity to Islam and Muslim nations and his fearlessness in the face of the threats of global powers

Ayatollah Khamenei described Imam Khomeini (r.a.) as “The root of the holy tree of the Revolution” and said, “We will continue our path on the basis of Imam’s (r.a.) path”.

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