Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei was born on July 15, 1939 in a religious family in the holy city of Mashhad. His father, HojjatoIslam Hajj Sayyid Jawad Khamenei was one of the virtuous Ulema (religious scholars) of Mashhad and his mother was the daughter of Hojjatoleslam Sayyid Hashim Najafabadi. Upon completion of his elementary studies he entered Nawwab School and started his theological studies. He completed courses under the auspices of such mentors as Ayatollah Milani and Ayatollah Hajj Sheikh Hashim Qazvini.
In 1958 he went on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Najaf. In 1959 he went to Qum and became the student of Ayatollah-ul-uzma Burujerdi, Imam Khomeini and Ayatollah Haeri. He actively participated in the Uprising of June 5. 1963 (15th of Khordad, 1342) and fought the Pahlavi regime with Imam Khomeini. Later, he was arrested while carrying Imam Khomeini's message to Ayatollah Milani concerning the Ashura massacre of 1963. He then established a secret organization founded on Islamic Ideology and Shi'ism.
When this' organization was uncovered some of the great ulema were arrested and put in prison. But Ayatollah Khamenai and some others managed to flee. In 1965 he returned to Mashhad. He had always been threatened there by SAVAK and other agents of the Shah. Nevertheless he continued teaching Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) and Usool (Principle') to theological students. His teachings of Nahjal Balaghah and the "explanation of the Quran attracted people, especially the youth.
Khamenei throughout his revolutionary life has been a vanguard of the Islamic movement of Iran. Between 1965 and 1979 he was imprisoned six times and each time he passed his sentence in a solitary cell.
In 1976, upon release he expanded his comparative ideological classes and courses and with his speeches all over the country he preached Islamic thought among the youth. In 1978 he and some other committed clergymen established the Clergy Association of the country. The next year he was exiled to Iranshahr and then to Jiroft. But even after his release he was not exempted from SAVA K's close watch.
Ayatollah Khamenei has written and translated several books like "The Future of Islamic Territory" which was banned by the SAVAK in 1967. "Muslims in the Indian Liberation Movement", "A Critique on Western Civilization" a translation. "Imam Hassan's (A) Reconciliation" a translation. "The General Pattern of Islamic Thought in the Holy Quran", "The Depths of Daily Prayer" "A Correct Understanding of Islam ", "Imam Sadiq (A ) Life", "Teachings from Nahj al-Balaghah", "Collection of Lectures on Imamate" and "Our Position" which he wrote in collaboration with the wronged Ayatollah Beheshti, Martyr Dr. Bahonar and Hojjatoleslam Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Ayatollah Khamenei during the culmination of the Revolution, upon the recommendation of Ayatollah Mutahhari, was appointed a member of the Revolutionary Council. After the victory of the Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic. He held some key posts as:
Representative of the Revolutionary Council in the Defense Ministry, Superintendent of the Guardians Corps of the Islamic Revolution , Imam's Representative in the Supreme Defense Council , deputy of the people of Tehran to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) , the Leader of the Friday Congregational Prayers and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran with a vote of 16.007,972.
Ayatollah Khamenei was elected unanimously as the Secretary General of the Islamic Republican Party following the martyrdom of Dr. Bahonar. He is married and has four children.
During the Iraqi-imposed war, as the new President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, with other members of the Supreme Defense Council, he played a great role in organizing the Armed Forces. With his presence on the fronts he uplifted the spirits and morale of our Islamic combatants. On June 27, 1981 as a result of the explosion of a bomb planted inside a tape recorder by Munafiqeen, he was injured while delivering a speech in the Abu Dhār Masjid in Tehran , but he recovered soon. After his recovery he stressed that his second life was a gift from God which has been bestowed on him to serve Islam and the people.
He was elected as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the second term, with 12.203.870 votes. On 20th August, 1985.
Just after the very sad demise of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini -Ridwanullah ta'ala 'alayh he was elected as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution by a large majority of the votes of the Assembly of Experts on 4th June, 1989.