Khomeini was born in a Sayyid family that claimed to be descendants of Muhammad, from the seventh Imam, (Imam Mousa Kazem). In the early years of his life, Khomeini tried to set his life on the pattern of Mohammad's. Like Mohammad his father died in his early years and he was branded as an "ill-omened" child. Later, he remained affixed to the fundamentals of Islam and became active in promoting and imposing views of his understanding of religion. Like Mohammad, he was exiled and returned victorious to his homeland. The writer describes his arrival in contrast to the Mohammad's arrival, who announced amnesty for all and sundry and took to the reins of the newfound state with a spirit of moderation, clemency, reformation and toleration.
The writer brings out the anti-secular character of Khomeini's personality in the early chapters of the book. As a young scholar Khomeini was politically dormant and devoted his energies mainly towards acquisition of knowledge. Besides religious jurisprudence, he studied philosophy and ethics. He synthesized that religion was applicable in every sphere of life for purposes of good governance. Since then, he had been in favour of abolition of monarchy and enactment of a republic based on fundamentals of Shiite dictums. During 1940s Khomeini's designs found favour with some of the orthodox "ulema", who began reposing their trust in Khomeini and upheld his cause.
In retrospect, Iran did not become a consolidated Muslim state readily and there was considerable resistance to its spread for centuries. Shi'ism as described by Taheri "is largely a product of the Safavid era (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries)." "Jeziyah", a form of tax used by an Islamic state, was used to persecute Non-Muslims and it gave a fillip to their mass conversion.
It was only in 1960s when Khomeini openly made his revolutionary ideas public. He spoke against the monarchy sponsored "White Revolution" and "Capitulation" that gave total immunity to Americans. He became "Marja" or Grand Ayatollah in 1963, which gave him the highest status that any Shiite could have religiously. Khomeini condemned the Shah's program of reforms and with the support of other clerics issued edicts against the establishment. This created a general mistrust and a state of confusion in the state and the contemporary plight of the Middle East intolerant politics, even today, is attributed mostly to Khomeini's promotion of coercion and fundamentalism.
According to the writer, Khomeini saw himself as the Supreme leader having a mandate to safeguard the spiritual and temporal lives of Iranians. Taheri explains that Khomeini's vigor for opposing establishment became unbearable for the monarch and as a result he was exiled in 1964. In the years of exile, Khomeini worked with the Iraqi support to overthrow the Islamic monarchy of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He continued preaching his ideas of Islamic Government in Najaf, Iraq, the place where he spent most of his years in exile. Khomeini was particularly against the Belgian style of constitution, which he considered as alien to Iranians. In 1979, the military declared its neutrality and Khomeini was given a rousing welcome upon his arrival.
Taheri has gone at lengths to describe the tenets