Today is Thursday; 20th of the Iranian month of Tir 1398 solar hijri; corresponding to 8th of the Islamic month of Zilqa’dah 1440 lunar hijri; and July 11, 2019, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1865 solar years ago, on this day in 154 AD, Bardaisan, the Gnostic, scientist, scholar, astrologer, philosopher, and poet of Iranian-Babylonian origin, was born in the upper Mesopotamian city of Edessa, which was historically part of Syria, but is now in Turkey. He was believed to be of Parthian, i.e. eastern Iranian extraction, and was renowned for his knowledge of India, on which he wrote a book. It is said his parents of noble rank had fled Persia and settled in Edessa on the banks of the River Daisan, and thus named him Bardaisan, which means "Son of the Daisan". Edessa in those days was alternately under the influence of the Roman and the Parthian Empires, but was ruled by the local Abgar Dynasty, with whose crown prince and future king, Bardaisan was educated and to whom he later became counselor. Bardaisan soon became a devout follower of the teachings of Prophet Jesus (AS), although he may not have believed in the weird concept of Trinity, since it was he who converted the king and people of Edessa to the monotheistic creed. Despite Roman persecution, he preached extensively as far as Armenia, and wrote prolifically in both Syriac and Aramaic. His chief work, "The Dialogue of Destiny", or "The Book of the Laws of the Countries", is the oldest known original composition in Syriac literature. He also composed 150 hymns like the Psalms of Prophet David. His thoughts later influenced the Iranian Mani who founded the religion of Manichaeism by incorporating some of the teachings of Prophet Jesus (AS).
1061 lunar years ago, on this day in 379 AH, the Iranian Islamic astronomer, mathematician, and historian of science, Abu Hamed Ahmad Ibn Mohammed as-Saghani al-Asturlabi, passed away in Baghdad. He was from the town of Saghan in Khorasan near the city of Merv, which is presently in Turkmenistan, and lived most of his life in Baghdad. As is evident from his last surname "al-Asturlabi”, he was a maker of astrolabes and invented many other instruments, while working in the observatory built by Sharaf od-Dowla Daylami, the Iranian Buwaiyhid ruler of Iraq. He worked on the trisection of the angle. He wrote some of the earliest comments on the history of science. These included comparison between the "ancients" that is, the Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Indians, and the "modern scholars", that is, the Muslim scientists of his time.
1055 lunar years ago, on this day in 385 AH, the Shafei hadith scholar Ali Ibn Omar Dar Qutni, passed away in his hometown Baghdad. After basic studies in Baghdad, Kufa, Waset and Basra, he traveled to Egypt and Greater Syria, in search of hadith. He was an authority on poetry and literature as well. Among his works, mention can be made of the book known as "Sunan Dar Qutni”, in which he has collected the hadith through different sources, and has mentioned some of the merits of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
845 solar years ago, on this day in 1174 AD, Amalric, the ruler of the usurper Latin kingdom of Jerusalem (established in Bayt al-Moqaddas and Palestine by European invaders), died after a 11-year reign during which he attempted several unsuccessful attacks on Fatemid Egypt, by forming alliances with some of the local Syrian and Turkic Amirs, who were ready to betray fellow Muslims for paltry gains – like the present day Arab regimes which are serving Zionist interests. In 1171, three years before Amalric’s death, the Kurdish general, Salah od-Din, who was appointed vizier in Cairo by the young Fatemid caliph, al-Adid, deposed his benefactor and seized Egypt. Amalric was succeeded by his 13-year old leprous son, Baldwin IV, with Raymond III, Count of the occupied Lebanese region of Tripoli (Tarabolous) as regent, and William of the occupied Lebanese region of Tyre (Sour) as chancellor. During his 11-year reign, Baldwin used to constantly raid Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian cities, as far as Damascus, but without permanent success. In 1177, he launched a surprise attack and routed almost the entire army of Salah od-Din, who was lucky to escape alive. As the historian Ibn Jubayr writes, Baldwin IV, in view of his mean nature, was called by Muslims as "al-Khinzir” (the Swine). Two years after his death, Salah od-Din led a united army of Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Iranians, to liberate Bayt ol-Moqaddas, thus ending the 87-year illegal existence of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem.
775 solar years ago, on this day in 1244 AD, the Turkish slave-soldiers from the ancient Iranian land of Khwarezm in Central Asia, who were in the service of the Turkic Mamluk or Slave-Dynasty of Egypt liberated the Islamic city of Bayt al-Moqaddas or Jerusalem from the Crusader European occupiers. By August 23 the Khwarezmian Turks had taken complete control of the city and its surroundings and razed the edifices erected by the Christian usurpers.
752 lunar years ago, on this day in 688 AH, Iranian philosopher, Sufi writer, and Persian poet, Fakhr od-Din Ibrahim bin Bozorgmehr Iraqi, passed away in Damascus at the age of 80, and was laid to rest beside the tomb of the famous Spanish Muslim Gnostic, Sheikh Mohy od-Din ibn al-Arabi. Born in Hamadan, western Iran, he spent many years in Multan, (present day Pakistan) as well as in Konya and Toqat in present day Turkey. He was highly educated in both theology and literary disciplines and not only knew the Holy Qur'an, hadith and its exegesis, but also Persian and Arabic literature. In Multan he became a disciple of the Head of the Suhrawardi Sufi Order, Shaikh Baha od-Din Zakariyya, married his daughter, and stayed for twenty-five years. He then traveled first to Mecca and Medina, and later visited Konya, where he became a good friend of the famous Persian mystical poet, Mowlana Jalal od-Din Rumi. He also met Sadr od-Din Qunawi, who helped to shape him intellectually, as Shaikh Baha od-Din Zakariyya had shaped him spiritually. After Rumi's death, he moved to Toqat, at a time when there was much upheaval on the Byzantine border. The local ruler did not like him because of his influence over the people; so he fled to Cairo in Egypt. Later he settled in Damascus. His writings include "Lama’at” (Divine Flashes). His Diwan has been published in Iran under the title of "Kulliyaat-e Iraqi”. Another of his works is "Ushshaq-Namah” written during his stay in Multan and dedicated to the vizier Shams od-Din Juwayni.
614 solar years ago, on this day in 1405 AD, Admiral Zheng He of China's Ming Dynasty, who was a Muslim and whose actual name was Mahmoud Shams od-Din, set sail to explore the world on the first of his seven voyages that took him to Southeast Asia, the Subcontinent, Arabia, Iran, and Africa. He was a great-great-great-grandson of Seyyed Ajal Shams od-Din, the Iranian statesman who served in the administration of the Mongol Empire, and was appointed governor of Yunnan Province. He commanded a flotilla of several hundred galleys, including huge five-decked ships, on each of his voyages spread over 28 years, and in addition to demonstrating the might of China through presents to the rulers of lands he visited, he brought back exotic things and animals including zebras, giraffes and ostriches. He cleared the Malacca Straits of pirates and in places he visited he built mosques.
223 solar years ago, on this day in 1796 AD, the United States took possession of Detroit and the adjoining lands from Britain under terms of the Jay Treaty that avoided another war.
137 solar years ago, on this day in 1882 AD, the British fleet started the bombardment of the port city of Alexandria in Egypt as part of the Anglo-Egyptian War, following a coup by Colonel Ahmed Orabi against Towfiq Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, because of grievances over disparities in pay with European employees and other concerns. As a nation, Egypt was in limbo. Although a province of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks neither governed nor cared for Egyptian affairs, because of their own internal decline. Consequently, Egypt had been looted and misgoverned for decades by the Khedives, who in turn were exploited by the British and the French. This naturally caused resentment among nationalist forces manifested by Orabi’s coup. The British who had no right to meddle in the internal affairs of Egypt, bombarded Alexandria for three days, followed by marines occupying it. Much of the city was destroyed by fires that broke out as a result of the bombardment. The British then restored to power Khedive Towfiq, who declared Orabi a rebel. Orabi counteracted by obtaining a fatwa from the al-Azhar Shaikhs stating that Towfiq was a traitor to Islam for helping a foreign power occupy Egypt. Orabi ordered conscription and the British army tried to reach Cairo through Alexandria, but was stopped for five weeks at Kafr ad-Dawwar by Orabi. In August, a British army of over 40,000, commanded by Garnet Wolseley invaded the Suez Canal Zone. Orabi redeployed to defend Cairo while his main force dug in at Tel al-Kabir, north of the railway and the Sweetwater Canal, both of which linked Cairo to Ismailia on the Suez Canal. Wolseley, on being informed of the weak defences of the Egyptians, attacked them and slaughtered over two thousand Egyptian Muslims. Orabi’s forces were routed by the British cavalry which pursued them till undefended Cairo and captured it. Khedive power was restored while the British occupied Egypt until the Anglo-Egyptian Treaties of 1922 and 1936, giving gradual control back to the corrupt and inefficient Khedives, who were finally overthrown in the 1952 revolution by Colonel Jamal Abdun-Nasser and General Mohammad Najib.
114 solar years ago, on this day in 1905 AD, the famous Egyptian jurist and reformist religious scholar, Shaikh Mohammad Abduh, passed away in Alexandria, at the age of 56. A product of al-Azhar where he studied logic, philosophy and mysticism, when the great Iranian pan Islamist scholar, Seyyed Jamal od-Din Asadabadi, arrived in Egypt, Abduh became his student and was deeply influenced by him. On being appointed editor-in-chief of "al-Waqa'e al-Misriyya”, the official newspaper of the country, he dedicated to reforming all aspects of Egyptian society. In his articles he criticized corruption, superstition, and the luxurious lives of the rich. He was exiled from Egypt in 1882 for six years, which he spent in Lebanon and Paris, where he joined Seyyed Jamal od-Din in publishing the Islamic revolutionary journal "al-Urwat-al-Wusqa" which promoted anti-colonial views. Abduh also visited Germany and Britain and during his exile dedicated his efforts toward furthering respect and friendship amongst Muslims and Christians. He returned to Egypt in 1888, became a consultative member of the Court of Appeal in 1890, and in 1899 was appointed Mufti of Egypt – a position he held until he died. He embarked on reforming the education system at al-Azhar having come to the conclusion that Muslims suffer from ignorance about their own religion because of the despotism of unjust rulers. He was a prolific writer, and among his works is a commentary on "Nahj al-Balagha”, the famous collection of the sermons, letters, and maxims of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS) – a book, reintroduced to the Egyptians, seven centuries after the end of Fatemid rule.
98 solar years ago, on this day in 1921 AD, the Red Army captured Mongolia from the White Army and established the Mongolian People's Republic. In 1911, the part of Mongolia under control of China, took advantage of the fall of the Manchu Dynasty to announce independence, which was short-lived, as China and Russia concluded an accord to turn Mongolia into a joint protectorate. In 1917, following the communist revolution in Russia and the fall of the Czarist dynasty, China intended to completely annex Mongolia, but the Soviet Union intervened and helped Mongolia become independent in 1921. In 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the communist system ended in Mongolia as well. Mongolia covers an area of 1,565,000 sq km and shares borders with China and Russia.
87 lunar years ago, on this day in 1353 AH, the prominent jurisprudent Mullah Mohammad Hussain Fesharaki, passed away in his hometown Isfahan at the age of 87. After initial study under his elder brother Shaikh Mohammad Baqer Fesharaki, he left for Iraq for higher religious studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf, where his teachers included Ayatollah Mirza Habibollah Rashti, Ayatollah Shaikh Zain al-Abedin Mazandarani, and Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi (famous for the fatwa against tobacco consumption in order to save Iranian economy from British exploitation). On his return to Iran, he served as teacher at the seminary of Isfahan, and was active both socially and politically, in order to counter un-Islamic trends and laws creeping into the Iranian society. He formed a council of ulema in Isfahan in support of the ulema of Tehran who were active against the despotic policies of the Qajarid monarchy, and in order to safeguard Iranian economy, issued a 5-point declaration specifying that the ulema will not attest any document written on imported paper, and will not perform the funeral prayer of any deceased person whose shroud is made of imported cloth instead of Iranian cloth. Even the British installed Pahlavi dictator, Reza Khan, despite his disdain and maltreatment of the ulema, was afraid of Ayatollah Mohammad Hussain Fesharaki.
59 solar years ago, on this day in 1960 AD, the West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger, gained independence from several decades of French colonial rule. All three countries have Muslim majority populations.
49 lunar years ago, on this day in 1391 AH, Ayatollah Mirza Ahmad Najafi Khorasani Kifayi, passed away in holy Mashhad at the age of 91 and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of Imam Reza (AS) beside the grave of his elder brother Mirza Mahdi Ayatollahzadeh. Born in holy Najaf in Iraq to the celebrated scholar Mohammad Kazem Akhound Khorasani – author of the famous jurisprudential work "Kifayat al-Osoul” – he attended the classes of leading scholars such as Ayatollah Seyyed Abu’l-Hassan Isfahani, and his own eldest brother, Mirza Mohammad Aqazadeh Khorasani, before studying for ten years under his father, and attaining the status of Ijtehad. Of good appearance and blessed with a sharp wit and keen insight, he was also active in politics, supporting the Constitutional Movement in Iran against the despotism of the Qajarid Dynasty, and participating in the 1920 Revolution in Iraq against the British as the trusted assistant of Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi. When the British martyred Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Shirazi through poisoning and crushed the revolution, Ayatollah Mirza Ahmad Kifayi fled to Hijaz, staying for a year in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He returned to Najaf, but a couple of years later in 1923 (1341 AH), along with several ulema of Iranian origin, was expelled to Iran by the imported dynasty of Faisal of Mecca, whom the British installed as king in Baghdad. He took up residence in holy Mashhad, where his eldest brother was already based, and besides teaching at the seminary, played a vital role in thwarting the Russian plot to seize Khorasan. He also opposed the British installation of the illiterate soldier, Reza Khan Pahlavi, as king of Iran. The new regime imprisoned in Tehran and martyred his eldest brother Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Aqazadeh. He now took charge of the seminary of Mashhad, before being banished to Tabriz in Azarbaijan, where during World War 2, he spared no efforts to awaken the people against the plot of the Tudeh communist party to detach this northwestern part of Iran and turn it into a Soviet republic. He returned to Mashhad during the reign of Mohammad Reza and revived the seminary. He held in high esteem the young and aspiring Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (God bless him), hailing him during the 1963 Khordad 15 Uprising against the Pahlavi potentate, as "Iran’s Prime Personality” – a prediction that came true a decade and a half later.
44 solar years ago, on this day in 1975 AD, Chinese archeologists announced the uncovering of a 3-acre burial mound concealing 6000 clay statues of warriors and their regalia dating from 221 to 206 BC. The "Terracotta Army" was uncovered near the ancient capital of Xian. The 7,000 life-size clay soldiers and horses were buried in pits in battle formation facing east to guard the tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The figures were modeled after the emperor's army, and each face is different. The buried wonder was found in 1974 in the course of digging a well.
28 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, a Nigerian Airlines jet carrying Muslim Hajj pilgrims to Mecca, crashed at the Jeddah international airport in what is called Saudi Arabia, resulting in the death of all 261 people on board. The plane was a Canadian-chartered DC-8.
24 solar years ago, on this day in 1995 AD, during the Bosnian War, more than 8,000 Muslim residents of the city of Srebrenica were slaughtered by Serbs. This outrageous catastrophe was the biggest massacre in Europe since World War II. Although the UN Security Council had announced Srebrenica a safe haven in the year 1993 and the UN forces were stationed in this city, the Serb militias occupied the city and cold-bloodedly slaughtered the people. Amid this carnage, the Dutch peacekeeping forces stationed in the region took no measures to save the lives of Muslim civilians. The indifference of European states toward this human catastrophe was questionable. All the three fact-finding committees which were formed after termination of the war held the European Union and the UN responsible for the massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica.
20 lunar years ago, on this day in 1420 AH, Ayatollah Mirza Rahim Samet passed away at the age of 99 in his hometown Qazvin. Born in an academic family to the Prayer Leader Mirza Hussain Qazvini, he traced his descent to the famous Safavid era scholar Rafi od-Din Mohammad Va’ez Qazvini (died 1089 AH), the author of "Abwaab al-Jenaan”. After preliminary religious education in Qazvin, he left for Qom for higher studies and for five years attended the classes of leading ulema, including Ayatollah Hojjat Koh-Kamarei. He then travelled to Iraq and during his ten years at the seminary in holy Najaf, where he attained the status of Ijtehad, he studied under such prominent ulema as Ayatollah Seyyed Abu’l-Hassan Isfahani, Ayatollah Zia od-Din Iraqi, and Ayatollah Mirza Hussain Na’ini. On his return to Iran, he took up teaching in his hometown, and for almost half-a-century was head of the Qazvin seminary. He groomed a large number of students and wrote several books.
13 solar years ago, on this day in 2006 AD, two hundred nine people were killed in a series of bomb attacks in Mumbai, India, and over seven hundred others injured. The blasts took place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railway in Mumbai, the nation's financial capital. The bombs were set off in pressure cookers on trains. Although a variety of terrorist outfits claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts, the identity of the culprits has not been fully established, despite the Indian government’s blaming of Pakistan’s spying agency and indiscriminate arrest of Muslims that led to nationwide protests that the community was being deliberately targeted.
(Courtesy: IRIB English Radio – http://parstoday.com/en)