Today is Thursday; 16th of the Iranian month of Azar 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 18th of the Islamic month of Rabi al-Awwal 1439 lunar hijri; and December 7, 2017, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
2060 solar years ago, on this day in 43 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero, considered to be ancient Rome’s greatest orator and prose stylist, was assassinated on the orders of Marcus Antonius (Mark Anthony). A year earlier Cicero had launched the first of his "Philippics” (oratorical attacks) on Antonius, making 14 of them over the following months. He modeled his condemnations on the speeches of the ancient Greek philosopher Demosthenes against Macedonia’s Phillip II (hence Philippics) in order to discredit Marcus Antonius before the public. Cicero's attacks were neither forgiven nor forgotten, with the result that he was proscribed and killed. His head and hands were publicly displayed in the Roman Forum to discourage any who would oppose the new Triumvirate of Octavian, Antonius and Lepidus.
1443 solar years ago, on this day in 574 AD, Byzantine Emperor, Justin II, abdicated the throne due to recurring seizures of insanity, and handed over power to his general Tiberius, proclaiming him Caesar. Justin II died four years later at the age of 58. He had succeeded his maternal uncle Justinian I and ruled for eleven years till 574 during which he was embroiled in a devastating war with the Sassanid Empire of Iran in Syria and what is now Turkey. Justin had suffered a shattering defeat at the hands of the Iranian Emperor, Khosrow I Anushiravan. The Romans agreed to pay 45,000 gold coins to Iran as war reparations.
1439 lunar years ago, on this day, a few days after Hijra, work started for construction of the famous "Masjid an-Nabi” (Prophet's Mosque) in Medina after the entry of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in this city which was then called Yathreb. The Prophet personally took part in the construction, and adjacent to it rooms or quarters were built for him, for his cousin, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), and some of his companions. The Prophet used to hold the daily congregational prayers in this mosque, and would use it as a place for handling the various affairs of the Muslim society. The "Masjid an-Nabi”, in whose precincts, the Prophet reposes in eternal peace, is the second holiest mosque for the Islamic Ummah after the "Masjid al-Haraam” (Sacred Mosque) which houses God's symbolic house, the holy Ka'ba in Mecca. It is worth noting that on God’s commandment, the doors of the Sahaba opening into the courtyard of the "Masjid an-Nabi” were closed except for the doors of the houses of the Prophet and Imam Ali (AS).
1431 lunar years ago, on this day around 8 AH, Omm Kulthoum, the second and youngest daughter of Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) was born in Medina in the lifetime of her grandfather, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Like her elder sister, Hazrat Zainab (AS), and brothers, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), she was a picture of virtue, and on growing up married her paternal first cousin Awn ibn Ja’far at-Tayyar – who was martyred years later in 38 AH in the War of Siffeen – since as a member of the spotlessly pure Ahl al-Bayt no other man was worthy of her hand, except a faithful Hashemite. She was present in Karbala at history’s most heartrending tragedy; was taken in chains along with the rest of ladies and children of the Prophet’s blessed household to the court of the tyrant Yazid; delivered memorable sermons to unmask the hypocrisy of the Omayyad regime; and on return to Medina recited the famous elegy "Madinato Jaddona la taqbalina…” (O City of our Grandfather, don’t accept our coming).
1114 solar years ago, on this day in 903 AD, the famous Iranian Islamic astronomer and mathematician, Abu'l-Hassan Abdur-Rahman Ibn Amr as-Sufi ar-Raazi, was born in Rayy, near modern Tehran. He was one of the greatest astronomers and astrologers and was patronized by Azud od-Dowla Daylami, the ruler of the Persian Shi'ite Muslim Buwayhid dynasty of Iran-Iraq-Oman to translate scientific texts from Greek, Pahlavi and other languages into Arabic. As-Sufi was known in medieval Europe as "Azophi”; and today modern scientists have named in his honour the moon crater "Azophi” and the minor planet "12621 Alsufi”. He published his famous book "Kitab al-Kawakeb as-Sabeta" (or Book of Fixed Stars) in 964 AD, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures. In the same year he made the earliest recorded observation (from Yemen) of what western scientists today call the "Andromeda Galaxy"; describing it as a "small cloud". These were the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from the Earth. He also identified over five centuries before Ferdinand Magellan what the West calls the "Large Magellanic Cloud", which was not seen by Europeans until the Portuguese Sailor’s voyage around the world in the 16th century. As-Sufi ar-Razi observed that the ecliptic plane is inclined with respect to the celestial equator and more accurately calculated the length of the tropical year. He observed and described the stars, their positions, their magnitudes and their colour, setting out his results, constellation by constellation. For each constellation, he provided two drawings, one from the outside of a celestial globe, and the other from the inside (as seen from the earth), and this is another firm proof that in contrast to the Europeans, the Muslims knew the earth as a sphere. As-Sufi also wrote about the astrolabe, finding numerous additional uses for it. He described over 1000 different uses, in areas as diverse as astronomy, astrology, horoscopes, navigation, surveying, timekeeping, the direction of the Qibla (the holy Ka’ba in Mecca), and determination of the timing of the five-times daily prayers, etc. Since 2006, the Astronomy Society of Iran – Amateur Committee (ASIAC) – has been holding an international "Sufi Observing Competition" in his memory. A related work by him is: "Kitab Suwar al-Kawakeb ath-Thamaniya al-Arba’een”.
1050 solar years ago, on this day in 967 AD, the Iranian mystic and poet, Abu-Sa’eed Abi’l-Khair, was born in Mihne, near Torbat-e Haiderieh in Khorasan. He was an expert on exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, hadith, and jurisprudence, and was devoted to the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The details of his thoughts and life are known from the book "Asrar at-Tawhid” (Mysteries of Monotheism) written by his grandson, Mohammad Ibn Munawwar. Abu Sa’eed was also an accomplished poet and mostly composed quatrains in Persian. During his life his fame spread throughout the Islamic world, even to Spain. He was the first Sufi writer to widely use ordinary love poems as way to express and illuminate mysticism, and as such he played a major role in foundation of Persian Sufi poetry. Abu Sa’eed records several meetings with the famous multisided Iranian-Islamic genius Abu Ali ibn Sina.
1034 solar years ago, on this day in 983 AD, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II died crestfallen, a year after he was decisively defeated by the Muslim forces of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’a caliphate of Egypt-North Africa at the Battle of Capo Colonna, in Calabria, southern Italy. The Fatemids, who after taking control of Sicily in the 960s had advanced into southern Italy, came into conflict with the Germans under Otto advancing from the north with the intention of seizing Apulia and Calabria from the Byzantines. Otto was met by the forces of the Sicilian Emir, Abu’l-Qassem, to whom the Greek Christians had appealed for aid against the Roman Catholics. After initial success, Otto's army was bogged down in a pitched battle south of Crotone at Cape Colonna, and although Abu’l-Qassem was martyred, the Muslim troops did not flee. They regrouped and managed to surround the German soldiers, killing many of them and inflicting a severe defeat upon the Holy Roman Emperor. The defeat changed the political makeup of southern Italy, where the Muslims retained their presence, while the Greek Orthodox forces joined with the Muslims to regain possession of Apulia from the Roman Catholics. The Muslim presence in southern Italy lasted for over three centuries till 1300 AD, when as a result of loss of political power they were expelled and the remaining were forcibly converted to Christianity with mosques turning into churches.
419 solar years ago, on this day in 1598 AD, Giovanni "Gian" Lorenzo Bernini, Italian sculptor, painter, architect, was born. He was the greatest sculptor of the 17th century and worked under the patronage of Pope Urban VII. His works included the "Ecstasy of St. Teresa,” "David” and "Daphne and Apollo.”
286 solar years ago, on this day in 1731 AD, French orientalist, Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, was born in Paris. He could be called the first professional French Indologist and Iranologist. In 1754, he was shown a few lines copied from a fragment of the Zoroastrian sacred book Avesta brought in 1723 to the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He decided to go to India to retrieve the book. He travelled to Surat to meet the Parsees and obtained a copy of the Vendidad from Kaus and Darab, two reformist Dasturs, who also taught him, via Persian, what they knew of Avestan – though it was not much. Then he got a better copy of the Avesta from the Dastur Mancherji. In June, 1759, he was able to send news to Paris that he had completed in three months a translation of the Vendidad. His plan of studies was read to the Academy in February, 1760. In September, 1760, his translation of the Avesta was completed, and he had acquired 180 manuscripts, including samples of nearly all the languages of India. Following his Zend-Avesta and until his death in 1805 in Paris, Anquetil-Duperon was occupied with studying the laws, history, and geography of India. His most valuable achievement was a two-volume Latin retranslation and commentary of a Persian translation of fifty Upanishads (or sacred books of the Hindus) received from India in 1775, which he translated by 1796.
235 solar years ago, on this day in 1782 AD, Haidar Ali Khan, the Sultan of Mysore, died in camp near Chittor in what is now Andhra Pradesh, during the war with the British colonialists at the age of 61 after a reign of 21 years. His death was concealed by the minister, Purnaiya, until the arrival from Malabar of his son, Fath Ali Khan, who joined the main army in a few days and was established on the throne of Mysore as Tipu Sultan. The Sultanate of Mysore that lasted for 38 years until its overthrow by the British in 1799 was fiercely anti-colonialist and maintained good relations with Napoleon Bonaparte of France, the Sultan of Muscat, the Afghan rulers, and Karim Khan Zand of Iran. The latter on a request from Haidar Ali Khan sent a detachment of several thousand Iranian soldiers. The state language of Mysore was Persian, and Iranians flocked to the capital Seringapatnam including Mir Hussain Ali Khan Kirmani the author of the history, "Nishan-e Haidari.”
170 lunar years ago, on this day in 1268 AH, the highly efficient Iranian Prime Minister, Mirza Taqi Khan Amir Kabir, was killed on the orders of the Qajarid king, Nasser od-Din Shah in the "hammam” (bathhouse) of the famous garden-pavilion of Feen in the city of Kashan, where he was exiled, after dismissal from his post, following court intrigues by local agents of foreign powers, on loss of their illegal interests, because of his political and administrative reforms. He had risen from the lower rungs of the society through hard work, honesty, and voracious appetite for knowledge and eagerness to learn new techniques. He became prime minister of Mohammad Shah and within three years carried out important reforms. On Mohammad Shah's death, when Naser od-Din Shah ascended the throne as a boy, Amir-e Kabir acted as his guardian and saved Iran from the colonial designs of the British and the Russians. His achievements include the vaccination of Iranians against smallpox; economic development of the fertile Khuzestan Province; foundation in Tehran of the Dar ol-Fonoun Academy (for teaching medicine, surgery, pharmacology, natural history, mathematics, geology, and natural sciences to train the civilian and military staff); cancellation of the one-sided treaties with the Russians and the British; launching of a newspaper; crackdown on the seditious Babi-Bahai plot against Islam and the country; and execution of the heretic Mohammad Ali Bab. With Amir Kabir died the prospects of an independent Iran led by meritocracy.
128 solar years ago, on this day in 1889 AD, the first modern automobile was built. Its speed was 12 km per hour and its inventor was Karl Friedrich Benz of Germany.
123 solar years ago, on this day in 1894 AD, French diplomat, Vicomte Ferdinand, de Lesseps, who supervised the construction of the Suez Canal, died at the age of 89. While in the consular service in Egypt he became aware of plans to link the Mediterranean and the Red Sea by means of a canal and from 1854 onwards devoted himself to the project. Work began in 1859 and the Suez Canal was opened ten years later in 1869. In 1881, he embarked on the building of the Panama Canal, but had not anticipated the difficulties of this very different enterprise. The climate, with its torrential rains, incessant heat and fatal disease, took its toll. Financial mismanagement, stock failure and bad publicity eventually forced the failure of the company. The project was abandoned in 1889. It was completed by the United States.
89 solar years ago, on this day in 1928 AD, Avram Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political commentator, social justice activist, and anarcho-syndicalist advocate, was born in Philadelphia to Ukrainian-born Ashkenazi Jew, Zev Chomsky. Sometimes described as the "Father of Modern Linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy. He has spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is Institute Professor Emeritus, and is the author of more than 100 books, including "Thought-Control in Democratic Societies”. He is highly critical of the US Administration’s hegemonic policies and the state terrorism of Israel, for which the Zionist entity has banned his entry.
76 solar years ago, on this day in 1941 AD, Japan launched an aerial attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Pacific, making the US to directly enter World War 2 in the eastern theatre. The Japanese also attacked the Philippines, the International Settlement at Shanghai, Thailand and Hong Kong. Relations between Japan and the US had been strained for a decade as both nations sought to dominate the Pacific. The Japanese, using fighter aircraft, dive-bombers and torpedo planes sunk or damaged eight US battleships, three light cruisers and seven other ships; destroyed 188 planes and damaged 159; and killed 2,400 men and injured 1,178, in just over two hours. The Battleship Arizona lost 1,177 men. An estimated 900 were entombed in the sunken ship. The Japanese lost 29 planes and 5 midget submarines. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan.
64 solar years ago, on this day in 1953 AD, three Iranian students were shot and martyred by the Shah’s forces at Tehran University for protesting the visit to Iran of the then US vice-president, Richard Nixon, three-and-a-half months after the US-coup that toppled the government of Prime Minister Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq and restored the fugitive Shah to power. The day after this tragic incident, Nixon was shamelessly awarded an honorary PhD by the regime at Tehran University. This day is thus marked as Student’s Day in Iran.
36 solar years ago, on this day in 1981 AD, Palestinian activist, Abdul-Wahhab Kayyali, was assassinated by Zionists in Beirut. His PhD thesis at London University was on Palestine and the resistance of Arabs against colonialism and Zionism. He also published the first Palestinian magazine. Among the valuable books he wrote, mention can be made of "Modern History of Palestine”.
24 solar years ago, on this day in 1993 AD, Javad Ma’roufi, one of the most notable composers of Persian classical music and one of the first pianists who wrote Persian pieces for the piano, passed away in his hometown Tehran at the age of 82. Son of musician Musa Ma’roufi, student of the renowned music master Darvish Khan Darvish Khan, he was taught the tar and the violin by his father. At the age of fourteen he enrolled at the Academy of Music where he learned to play the piano, in addition to Persian classical music under its director, Ali-Naqi Vaziri. In 1940 he took up service at Radio Tehran. Amongst his celebrated pieces are "Khabha-ye Tala'I” (Golden Dreams) and "Jila”.
(Courtesy: IRIB English Radio – http://parstoday.com/en)