Ruhollah Khomeini

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Anyone who will say that religion is separate from politics is a fool; he does not know Islam or politics.

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini (Persian: سید روح‌الله موسوی خمینی‎ ; 21 September 19023 June 1989) often referred as Imam Khomeini was an Iranian Islamic cleric and the political and religious leader of the Islamic Revolution which overthrew the Shah of Iran and brought an end to the Imperial State of Iran.


If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit girls and boys to wrestle together, as recently happened in Shiraz.
Personal desire, age, and my health do not allow me to personally have a role in running the country after the fall of the current system.
In Iran's future Islamic system everyone can express their opinion, and the Islamic government will respond to logic with logic.
  • Give them Islam, proclaim to the world the program of Islamic government; maybe the kings and presidents of the Muslim countries will understand the truth of what we say and accept it. We would not want to take anything away from them; we will leave anyone in his place who faithfully follows Islam.
  • ... in our domestic and foreign policy, ... we have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam ... We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, capitalism and Communism to wither throughout the world. We wish, as does God almighty, to destroy the systems which are based on these three foundations, and to promote the Islamic order of the Prophet ...
  • if you hope at this juncture to cut the Gordian knots of socialism and communism by appealing to the center of Western capitalism, you will, far from remedying any of the ills of your society, commit a mistake which those to come will have to erase. For if Marxism has come to a deadlock in its social and economic policies, capitalism has also bogged down.
  • If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit girls and boys to wrestle together, as recently happened in Shiraz.
    • Denouncing the situation that sex segregation was not being imposed by the government. Speech number sixteen. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, World Service (October 26, 1964).
  • The people will not rest until the Pahlavi rule has been swept away and all traces of tyranny have disappeared. As long as the Shah's satanic power prevails, not a single true representative of the people can possibly be elected.
    • Response to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's announcement of elections (August 1978); quoted in "The Shah's Divided Land" (18 September 1978) Time
  • With people's revolutionary rage, the king will be ousted and a democratic state, Islamic Republic, will be established.
    • "Imam's Sahife" vol. 4 p. 244 (1 November 1978).
  • Women are free in the Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities and their future and their clothing.
    • Interview for The Guardian in Paris (6 November 1978)
  • Personal desire, age, and my health do not allow me to personally have a role in running the country after the fall of the current system.
    • Associated Press interview in Paris (7 November 1978); repeated on several occasions before Khomeini returned to Iran
  • You young people yourselves are capable of performing anything. Our inventors can invent in a high level, Our innovators can innovate in a high level, only if they keep self confidence and believe that we can.
    • Addressing an audience of Iranian industry workers and inventors (October 1983); quoted in "Imam's Sahife" vol. 18 p. 189,190.
  • In Iran's future Islamic system everyone can express their opinion, and the Islamic government will respond to logic with logic.
    • Speech (9 November 1978), as quoted in The Most Truthful Individual in Recent History" in Iranshenasi, Vol. XIV, No. 4 (Winter 2003), as translated by Farhad Mafie
  • In the Islamic government all people have complete freedom to have any kind of opinion.
    • Interview with Human Rights Watch, Paris (10 November 1978)
  • After the Shah's departure from Iran, I will not become a president nor accept any other leadership role. Just like before, I limit my activities only to guiding and directing the people.
    • Le Monde interview in Paris (9 January 1979)
  • From the beginning while we were engaged in these issues, I said in interviews with those who came from abroad, even in Najaf or Paris or among my personal words, I have always said that clerics have an occupation which is more important than these executive jobs, and should Islam become victorious, clerics would dedicate themselves to their own occupation. But as we went on with the revolution, we found out that if we tell all clerics to go after their mosques, this country would fall into the throat of America and Soviet Union. We experienced and saw, those who took the lead but were not clerics, even though some of them were religious people, our revolutionary path was not according to their taste, therefore... we temporarily deviate from our original word until this country could be administered by those other than clerics, then clerics will go back to their preach and their own position and they will leave executive matters to others who work for Islam.
    • Imam's Sahife. vol. 16, p. 349,350. (21 June 1982)
  • Before the revolution I thought there are appropriate individuals who would do the job according to Islam, therefore I repeatedly said that clerics would go after their own job. Then I saw that most of them were inappropriate individuals and I found out that what I said was not true, so I came and clearly announced that I was wrong.
    • Imam's Sahife. vol. 18, p. 241. (11 December 1983)
  • Ayatollah, would you be so kind as to tell us how you feel about being back in Iran?
    Nothing. I don't feel anything. (Hichi. Hich ehsasi nadaram)
    • Exchange between American reporter Peter Jennings and Khomeini (1 February 1979), during Khomeini's return flight to Iran; quoted in Elaine Sciolino (2001) Persian Mirrors. Khomeini's translator did not translate his response, but said only that he had no comment.
  • These people are trying to bring back the regime of the late Shah or another regime. I will strike with my fists at the mouths of this government. From now on it is I who will name the government.
  • Variant: I shall kick their teeth in. I am appointing the government. I am appointing the government by the support of this nation!
    • Speech at Behesht Zahra cemetery (1 February 1979), condemning the government of Shapour Bakhtiar
  • Don't listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things.
    • Remarks to students and educators in Qom (13 March 1979)
  • Islamic state means a state based on justice and democracy and structured upon Islamic rules and laws.
    • Imam's Sahife, vol. 5, p. 133. (17 December 1978)
  • In Islam, democracy is included and people are free in Islam, both in expressing their opinions and their actions, until there is no conspiracy and they don't bring up ideas which would deviate Iranian generation.
    • Imam's Sahife, vol. 5, p. 468. (15 January 1979)
  • If one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth, the infidel's moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him.
    • Speech on the day of Mohammed's birth (1984)
  • Happy are those who have departed through martyrdom. Unhappy am I that I still survive.… Taking this decision is more deadly than drinking from a poisoned chalice. I submitted myself to Allah's will and took this drink for His satisfaction.
    • Announcement of ceasefire with Iraq (20 July 1988), quoted in The Iran-Iraq War (2002) by Efraim Karsh
  • …the author of The Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qu'ran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctions. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing.
  • When anyone studies a little or pays a little attention to the rules of Islamic government, Islamic politics, Islamic society and Islamic economy he will realize that Islam is a very political religion. Anyone who will say that religion is separate from politics is a fool; he does not know Islam or politics.
    • Tahrīr al-Wasīla vol. 1


  • All those against the revolution must disappear and quickly be executed.
  • Variant: All those against the revolution, that insist on their position, must disappear and quickly be executed.
  • In the world there is no democracy better than our democracy. Such a thing has never before been seen.
    • Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 195


  • Islam's jihad is a struggle against idolatry, sexual deviations, plunder, repression, and cruelty. The war waged by [non-Muslim] conquerors, however, aims at promoting lust and animal pleasures. They care not if whole countries are wiped out and many families left homeless. But those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. All the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation. For they shall live under [God's law].
    • As quoted in Anti-American Terrorism and the Middle East (2002) by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin, pp. 29, 32-36
  • We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.
    • As quoted in Nest of Spies : America's Journey to Disaster in Iran (1989) by Amir Taheri, p. 269. Disputed by historian Shaul Bakhash.
  • Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . . But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender [to the enemy]? Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur'anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.
    • As quoted in Holy Terror: Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism (1987) by Amir Taheri, pp. 241-3.

Quotes about Khomeini[edit]

Alphabetically by author

  • It's almost impossible to deal with a crazy man, except that he does have religious beliefs, and the world of Islam will be damaged if a fanatic like him should commit murder in the name of religion against 60 innocent people.
  • You think that Mr Khomeini, [an] uneducated person … could have planned all this? Masterminded all this, set up all the organization? I know that one man alone could not have done it … I know that a tremendous amount of money was spent … I know that top experts in propaganda were used to show us like tyrants and monsters, and the other side as democratic liberal revolutionaries who want to save the country.
  • One should express his viewpoint regarding what he performed in his country and in a vast part of the world with great respect and deep thought.
  • Khomeini has offered us the opportunity to regain our frail religion … faith in the power of words.
  • Since Khomeini's death, the popular appeal of an Islamic state — and of fundamentalism — has surely dimmed. Thinkers still debate and warriors kill, but no country seems prepared to emulate Iran. Perhaps revolutions happen only under majestic leaders, and no one like Khomeini has since appeared.

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