The Iranian Revolution directed by Ayatollah Khomeini presented a fundamental challenge to the existing world order. It recalls the religious fervor of the Mahdi’s nineteenth-century movement in the Sudan by emphasizing religious purification and the rejoining of religion and politics central to early Islam.
The Mahdi and Khomeini claimed divine inspiration and sought to establish a state based on Islamic precepts.
Each wanted to spread their movement to wider regions. Khomeini succeeded because of circumstances unique to Iran, a nation not formally colonized, but divided into British and Russian spheres of interest.
Iran thus lacked colonial bureaucratic and communications infrastructures as well as a large Western-educated middle class.
Ayatollah Khomeini was the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The only leader in the Muslim world who combined political and religious authority as a head of state, he took office in 1979.
Khomeini's politics have since then been a politics of world Islamist revolution, and support has been given to some groups in other countries fighting for Islam with military means.
Modernization policies, supported by Iran’s oil wealth, were imposed by the regime of the Pahlavi shahs.
Advances resulted, but the majority of Iranians were alienated.
The shah’s authoritarian rule offended the middle class his ignoring of Islamic conventions roused religious leaders who were influential with the mass of the people.
Khomeini then carried through radical reform, the religious figures took over leadership and suppressed all opposition.