Khomeini in Najaf: The Religious and Political Leadership of an Exiled Ayatollah


The thirteen years Khomeini spent in exile in the Iraqi shrine city of Najaf is still a little-known page of his life. Based on a collection of published interviews with Iranian clerics, this article explores the social mechanisms of his growing authority, both as a religious scholar and a revolutio...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Die Welt des Islams
Main Author: Corboz, Elvire
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Brill 2015
In: Die Welt des Islams
Year: 2015, Volume: 55, Issue: 2, Pages: 221-248
Further subjects:B Shiʿism
 20th century
 Najaf
 social history
 Khomeini
 eligious authority
 exile

Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
Description
Summary:The thirteen years Khomeini spent in exile in the Iraqi shrine city of Najaf is still a little-known page of his life. Based on a collection of published interviews with Iranian clerics, this article explores the social mechanisms of his growing authority, both as a religious scholar and a revolutionary figure. His leadership practices were, the article argues, a mirror of his position of in-betweenness characterized by his physical presence in Najaf and his continued attachment to the home country. The social dynamics at work inside the Iraqi seminaries are explored first to situate Khomeini in his place of exile. While he was kept at a distance by Najaf’s most influential clerical groups, he also had access to a social base of his own, a group of supporters composed mainly of Iranian students and low-ranking scholars. The local and transnational development of Khomeini’s religio-political leadership is addressed next. His scholarly and social activities among Najaf’s community of learning allowed him to consolidate and spread his religious influence. His political activities were less overt than generally assumed; he kept a low profile in Najaf’s public sphere yet maintained a political presence transnationally through his network.

ISSN:1570-0607
Contains:In: Die Welt des Islams
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1163/15700607-00552p03