Today is Thursday; 24th of the Iranian month of Mordad 1398 solar hijri; corresponding to 13th of the Islamic month of Zil-Hijjah 1440 lunar hijri; and August 15, 2019, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1441 lunar years ago, on this day in the year preceding the hijrah, or the historical migration to Medina of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), the Second Pledge of Aqaba took place, when a group of Muslims from Medina and other places came to Mecca to reaffirm their allegiance to Islam. This was follow up to the First Pledge of Aqaba that had ended the long feud between the Ows and Khazraj tribes, through the mediation of the Prophet, thus winning fresh adherents to Islam. After the Second Pledge of Aqaba, the people of Medina invited the Prophet to come to their city. The Prophet's migration, on divine command, a year later, was a turning point in human history and opened a new chapter in the spread of Islam.
1383 solar years ago, on this day in 636 AD, a series of 6-day military encounters, known as the Battle of Yarmouk started near Yarmouk River in Palestine between the neo-Muslim Arab forces and the Christian armies of Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire), resulting in the decisive victory of Muslims and opening the way for Islamicization of Syria. This was start of a new phase of wars in the Levant-Mesopotamia region between new adversaries, only 8 years after the end of the 26-year long (602-to 628) last and deadliest round of the Byzantine-Sassanid wars that had raged for almost four centuries, beginning with the start of armed hostilities between Severus Alexander and Ardashir I in 230 AD – as continuation of the Roman-Parthian wars started over three centuries earlier in 92 BC for control of Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Armenia. With the advent of Islam and the defeat of both the Persians and the Byzantines (Greco-Romans), the ethno-religious demography of the region was permanently changed, although Iranians as Muslims would continue to influence events and play vital roles in the region and beyond, on a scale greater than in the pre-Islamic era.
1301 solar years ago, on this day in 718 AD, the naval and land forces of the Omayyad regime of Damascus were forced to lift the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople after a year and a month of unsuccessful efforts to conquer the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The First Siege of Constantinople during the years 674-78 by Mu’awiyya ibn Abu Sufyan had ended in failure. In 716, Sulaiman Ibn Abdul-Malik, on hearing of a narration that the city would be conquered by a person bearing the name of a Prophet, sent a massive force of 200,000 via land and by sea through the Mediterranean – on the assumption that he was the namesake of Prophet Solomon. After wintering in the western coastlands of Asia Minor, the Arab army crossed into Thrace on the European side in early summer 717 and built siege lines to blockade Constantinople, which was protected by massive walls. The Arab fleet, which accompanied the land army and was meant to complete the city's blockade by sea, was neutralized soon after its arrival by the Byzantine navy through the use of Greek fire. The Arab army was crippled by famine and disease during the unusually hard winter that followed. An additional army sent overland from Syria through Asia Minor was ambushed and defeated. In the meantime Sulaiman was no more and the new caliph was Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz. Coupled with attacks by the Bulgarians on their rear, the Arabs were forced to lift the siege, losing 150,000 men during the unsuccessful campaign. On its return journey, the Arab fleet was almost destroyed by natural disasters and Byzantine attacks. The failure had wide-ranging repercussions, including end of the Muslim advance into Europe, and is considered one of history's most decisive battles, along with the Omayyad defeat in France at the Battle of Tours in 732. The huge financial loss speeded up the collapse of the usurper Omayyad regime, followed by its complete destruction by the Abbasid regime in 750. It was in 1453 that Constantinople was captured by Muslims under the Ottoman sultan, Mohammad II.
1241 solar years ago, on this day in 778 AD, the Battle of Roncevaux Pass occurred in the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain between the rearguard of the retreating army of Charlemagne of France and the Basques, resulting in the death of the famous knight, Roland. It was not fought between Christians and Muslims, as alleged, but the Muslims did play a crucial role during the invasion of northern Spain by the French and their retreat, when Sulaiman al-Arabi, the pro-Abbasid governor of Barcelona and Girona, along with Hussain of Zaragoza and Abu Taur of Huesca promised Charlemagne military aid against Abdur-Rahman I, the Omayyad Emir of Cordoba. The three also said the caliph of Baghdad, Mahdi al-Abbasi, was preparing an invasion force against Abdur-Rahman. Seeing an opportunity to extend his own power, Charlemagne invaded and was welcomed in Barcelona and Girona by Sulaiman al-Arabi. Abdur-Rahman of Cordoba sent his general, Tha’laba Ibn Obeid, to prevent the French invasion, but was defeated and imprisoned by Hussain, who handed him, along with gold, to Charlemagne. The French king who had planned to seize Zaragoza but was frustrated in his designs, turned against his Muslim ally Sulaiman al-Arabi and put him in chains. Meanwhile, an Iranian-Arab force sent by the Baghdad caliph was stopped near Barcelona. Following his failure to take Zaragoza, Charlemagne retreated to France and in Pamplona he suffered an ambush led by the pro-Abbasid Muslim forces who freed Sulaiman al-Arabi. The French were also attacked by Basques who routed the guard and killed Roland and others.
1093 solar years ago, on this day in 927 AD, Muslims from North Africa, after bringing the island of Sicily under Islamic rule, took control of the city of Taranto in Apulia, southern Italy, before evacuating it. In the preceding century also, the Muslims, after taking control of Sicily, had established a foothold in southern Italy, founding the emirate of Bari, which fell over a half-a-century earlier in 871 to the savage onslaught of the Christian forces of Holy Roman Emperor Louis II, who massacred Muslims, burned libraries, and turned mosques into churches.
1064 lunar years ago, on this day in 376 AH, the Muslim mathematician Ali ibn Ahmad Antaki, passed away. He was born in the Syrian city of Antakya (formerly Antioch and under Turkey’s occupation since 1937), and later took up residence in Baghdad to learn sciences. Among the books written by him is "al-Mawazin al-Aadadiyah".
1037 solar years ago, on this day in 982 AD, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II was decisively defeated by the Muslim forces of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi'a Muslim caliphate of Egypt-Syria-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, who was advancing from the north with the intention of seizing Apulia and Calabria from the Byzantines. He was met by 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 the battlefield. They regrouped and surrounded Otto's 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 Muslims retained their presence, while the Greek Orthodox forces joined the Muslims to regain possession of Apulia from the Roman Catholics. The Muslim presence in Italy lasted for over three centuries till 1300 AD, when due to loss of political power they were expelled, and the remaining were forcibly converted to Christianity with mosques turned into churches.
250 solar years ago, on this day in 1769 AD, French general and emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in Ajaccio on the island of Corsica in a relatively modest family of Italian ancestry. He was well-educated, although he spoke French with a heavy Corsican accent. He joined the army and rose rapidly during the later stages of the French Revolution. He became prominent under the First French Republic, and on being appointed general, he established his reputation as a military leader, especially in his Italian and Egyptian campaigns. He invaded Egypt in 1799, intending to sail to India to assist Fath Ali Khan Tipu Sultan of Mysore against the British, but in 1801, he was forced to withdraw after unsuccessful attempts to pose as liberator from Ottoman rule or win the confidence of the Egyptians, even though he participated at al-Azhar in the birth anniversary celebrations of the Prophet of Islam, clad in Arab clothes and turban, and telling the congregation that he has changed his name to "Ali Bonaparte”. On return to France, he contrived to undermine the elected assembly and finally seized totalitarian powers in 1804 as emperor, embroiling France in continental wars for the next ten years for supremacy over all Europe. After his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena, where it is said the British poisoned him to slow death.
142 solar years ago, on this day in 1877 AD, Thomas Edison coined the telephone greeting "Hello." He suggested the use of "Hello" to the president of the Telegraph Company to answer the phone instead of "ahoy-ahoy” suggested by Alexander Bell.
105 solar years ago, on this in 1914 AD the Panama Canal was cut through the Isthmus of the same name at the narrowest point in Central America, to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, was opened to traffic with transit of the cargo ship "SS Ancon”.
103 lunar years ago, on this day in 1356 AH, the Islamic scholar and revolutionary, Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Taqi Golshan Ha’eri Shirazi, passed away in the holy city of Karbala in Iraq at the age of 80 during the height of the struggle against British domination of the country, and is believed to have been martyred through poisoning by colonialist agents. Born in Shiraz, he migrated to Iraq as a 12-year old, with his father and after studies at the Najaf seminary reached the status of Ijtihad. He was one of the best students of Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi, who issued the famous fatwa against tobacco consumption in order to save Iranian economy against exploitation by the British colonialists. Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi opposed British meddling in the affairs of Iraq and mobilized the Iraqi people in the southern parts of the country to inflict a military defeat on the British occupation army. He authored several books.
83 solar years ago, on this day in 1936 AD, Grand Ayatollah Allamah Mirza Mohammad Hussein Na'ini, passed away at the age of 79. Born in a religious family in Na’in, central Iran, after completion of preliminary studies, he left for higher studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf in Iraq, where his teachers included such prominent ulema as Mirza Hassan Shirazi (of the anti-tobacco fatwa against British exploitation of the Iranian economy). Besides theology he was well versed in mathematics, philosophy, and mysticism. His most important work is "Tanbih al-Umma va Tanziha al-Milla” which outlines the duties of ulema and people and the necessity of campaign against tyrannical regimes. This was an effective step by Ayatollah Naini in awakening the Iranian people, whose struggles against despotism and foreign hegemony triumphed under the guidance of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). Among his other books, is "Wasilat an-Naja'at”.
72 solar years ago, on this day in 1947 AD, India gained independence from British colonial rule after years of struggles. Although an ancient civilization, it was the advent of Islam that placed India firmly on the international map, especially during the era of the Great Moghuls in the 16th and 17th centuries. With the weakening of the Moghul Empire and its splintering into regional Muslim states in the mid-18th century, the British, who had entered the country as traders, played one ruler against the other, to consolidate power and seize large chunks of territory. Wars were imposed on the Indian people, both Muslim and Hindu, and the superior firepower of the British ensured their victory, whether it was against Tipu Sultan in 1799 or the 1857 uprising in the north, which were brutally crushed. In the closing years of the 19th century independence movements emerged in the form of the Indian National Congress Party and the All-India Muslim League. In the 20th century after World War I, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched his non-violent movement, saying it was the epic martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), which inspired him to struggle for liberty and independence. Among the Muslims, Mohammad Ali Jinnah – an Ismaili Shi’a who later became Ithna Ash’ari (Twelver) – emerged as a dynamic leader, but the crafty British played the communal card to pit Muslims against Hindus, as part of their divide-and-rule policy. Following the end of World War 2 and sapping of British energies, London decided to grant independence on the basis of the 'two-nation-theory'. Thus India, and a day earlier Pakistan, emerged as independent states. In 1950 India became a republic.
71 solar years ago, on this day in 1948 AD, the South Korean Republic was formed south of the 38th parallel in the American occupied southern part of the Korean Peninsula, which continues to remain divided against the will of the people, because of the unwanted presence of US troops.
50 lunar years ago, on this day in 1389 AH Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Mohsin, popular as Aqa Bozorg Tehrani, passed away in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, at the age of 96. His father Haji Ali was active in the tobacco boycott campaign of 1891 and later wrote a book on the history of the movement to thwart British exploitation of Iran’s economy, thanks to the historic fatwa of Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi. After preliminary education in his hometown Tehran, at the age of 26 Mohammad Mohsin migrated for higher studies to Najaf, and spent the rest of his life in Iraq, with the exception of four brief return visits to Iran and two short journeys to Syria, Egypt, and the Hejaz – for the Hajj pilgrimage. Among his teachers were Akhund Mullah Mohammad Kazem ?horasani, Seyyed Mohammad Kazem Yazdi, Sheikh ash-Shari’a Isfahani and Mohaddith Mirza Hussain Noori. In turn he groomed several outstanding ulema including Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hussaini Sistani – the current marja’ in Najaf. At the age of 40, he went to Samarra to join the circle of the revolutionary scholar Mirza Mohammad-Taqi Golshan Shirazi. During his 24-year stay in this city, before returning to Najaf, he conceived, and began to execute, the plan of a comprehensive bibliographical survey of all classes of literature produced by Shi’a Muslim authors. His original intention was to refute a statement by the Christian Arab litterateur, Jorji Zaydan, belittling the Shi’a contribution to Arabic literature. However, the masterpiece that Aqa Bozorg produced in almost 30 volumes, titled "az-Zari’a ila Tasaneef ash-Shi’a”, became a major contribution to Islamic scholarship. In this encyclopedic work, the titles of all books written by Shi’a authors are listed alphabetically, together with a brief indication of authorship and content, as well as place and date of publication in the case of printed works, and location in the case of manuscripts. He also compiled a biographical encyclopedia of Shi’a Muslim scholars as a companion to "az-Zari’a”, titled "Tabaqaat A’laam ash-Shi’a”, but each section, pertaining to the scholars of a given century, also has a separate title. Aqa Bozorg Tehrani’s influence was not limited to the admiration elicited by his decades of industrious scholarship. He exchanged numerous "ijaazaat” (licenses of transmission) with the scholars of Hadith, both Shi’a and Sunni, whom he met in the course of his travels – a practice he consciously sought to revive as vital to the cultivation of Islamic scholarship. He was also widely regarded for his piety and asceticism: He regularly led congregational prayer at several mosques in Najaf, and on Tuesday afternoons, used to walk from Najaf to Kufa to pray at Masjid Sahla which was the house of Prophet Idris (Enoch) and will be headquarters of the Prophet’s 12th and Last Infallible Heir, Imam Mahdi (AS) during his global government of peace, prosperity and justice.
44 solar years ago, in 1975 AD, Bangladesh's founder, Sheikh Mujib ur-Rahman, was killed along with most members of his family during a military coup launched by his own disgruntled Awami League officers headed by Khondkar Mushtaq Ahmad. Mujib led the struggle for secession of East Pakistan from Islamabad's rule and its renaming as Bangladesh in 1971 with the support of India. The present prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, is his daughter.
14 solar years ago, on this day in 2005 AD, because of Palestinian resistance, the Zionist entity was forced to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, which it had occupied in 1967. Israel continues to keep the West Bank under its control despite the 1993 agreement with the PLO to evacuate it. Gaza and its 1.5 million people are under siege for the past several years, and have been subjected to periodic holocausts.
7 solar years ago, on this day in 2012 AD, Iranian mathematician, Prof Manuchehr Vesaal, known as Father of Analytical Mathematics, passed away in his hometown Tehran. He studied at France’s Sorbonne University, and in 1940 obtained doctorate in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. On his return to Iran, he was appointed associate professor of mathematics at the University of Tehran. In 1941 he became Director of the Tehran University Faculty of Sciences Library and later with scholarship from UNESCO, went to Paris and studied Library Sciences. In 1962, he was appointed the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Shiraz University. He was Founder/Dean of the School of Engineering which quickly became one of the finest engineering Schools in Iran. He served as the provost of the university from 1965 to 1969. During his tenure, post-graduate courses were initiated, books were made available to students at low cost and a library science programme established. He also served as the director of university libraries until 1979. From 1981 until his retirement in 2003 after 62 years of service, he served at the Iran University Press of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
(Courtesy: IRIB English Radio – http://parstoday.com/en)