Today is Sunday; 19th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 24th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani 1442 lunar hijri; and February 7, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1050 lunar years ago, on this day in 392 AH, the historian, hadith compiler and orator, Ahmad bin Ali bin Sabet, known as Khateeb al-Baghdadi, was born near Baghdad. The son of a preacher of Darzidjan, he studied under his father and other ulema, mastering the various sciences, with special interest in hadith. At the age of 20 he went to Basra to collect hadith. He then travelled east to Iran and made two trips to Naishapur in Khorasan, collecting in his journey more hadith in Rayy and Isfahan. Back in Baghdad, he acquired fame as a preacher and orator, and it is said that teachers and preachers of hadith would usually submit to him what they had collected, before they used them in their lectures or sermons. Originally a follower of the Hanbali School of jurisprudence, he switched to the Shafe’i School – a change that made Hanbalis his bitter enemies and heap accusations against him. This sectarian hostility forced him to leave Baghdad for Syria and settle in Damascus, where he preached for 8 years, and before returning to Baghdad, spent another year in Tyre, in what is now Lebanon. Khateeb al-Baghdadi was a prolific writer and has authored several books, the most famous of which is the voluminous history titled "Tarikh al-Baghdad”. He has quoted many of the hadith on the merits of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, especially Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA). He died in Baghdad at the age of 73.
898 lunar years ago, on this day in 544 AH, the Islamic scholar, Abu Ja’far Ahmad ibn Ali Baihaqi, passed away. Popularly known as "Bu Ja’farak”, he was from Baihaq (Sabzevar, as it is known today) in Khorasan, northeastern Iran. He was an authority on grammar, lexicography and Qur’anic sciences. He authored several books, including "Taj al-Masader” and "al-Muhit fi Lughat-al-Qur’an”.
543 solar years ago, on this day in 1478 AD, Thomas More, English lawyer, social philosopher, author, and statesman, who coined the word "Utopia” in the novel of the same name, was born in London to the lawyer and judge, John More. He served as Councilor to King Henry VIII of England and was Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. A bitter opponent of the Protestant Movement, he ridiculed the German Church reformer, Martin Luther, as a heretic in the book "Responsio ad Lutherum”, in which he also opposed the English monarch’s separation from the Catholic Church and refused to accept the king as Supreme Head of the Church of England. As a result, he was imprisoned in 1534, and the next year was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony, and beheaded. In 1516 he had published "Utopia”, a name he gave to an ideal and imaginary island nation, the political system of which contrasts the contentious social life of European states with the perfectly orderly, reasonable social arrangements. In "Utopia”, with communal ownership of land, private property does not exist; men and women are educated alike; and there is almost complete religious toleration. Utopia tolerates different religious practices but does not tolerate atheists, since Thomas More believed that if a person did not believe in God or in afterlife he/she could never be trusted. He also coined the English phrase "grasp at straws” to mean "desperately trying even useless things”, in his book "Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation.”
501 lunar years ago, on this day in 941 AH, Baghdad was seized from Iran and annexed to the Ottoman Empire along with most of Iraq by Sultan Suleiman, after Shah Tahmasb I withdrew his troops and did not offer resistance. Suleiman, fresh from his victories in the West that brought under his control extensive territories in south-central Europe, turned towards the east, since like his father, Sultan Selim I, he was in constant fear of Safavid influence in Anatolia and Syria. During his 46-year reign which coincided with the longer 52-year reign of Shah Tahmasp, he launched massive invasions of the Persian Empire three times by giving a sectarian Sunni-Shi’ite colour to his campaigns, but on all three occasions he failed to shatter the resolve of the Iranians, from the Caucasus in the north till the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates in the south, losing on one occasion 30,000 soldiers. In the end the two empires signed a peace treaty. The name Baghdad is Middle Persian and means "God-given”. The city was built as "Madinat as-Salaam” (City of Peace) on the banks of the River Tigris by the Abbasid caliph Mansour Dawaniqi near Ctesiphon or Mada’en, the ancient pre-Islamic capital of the Iranian Parthian and Sassanid Empires, which along with their predecessor, the Achaemenid Empire, exercised control over Iraq for over a thousand years – except for a brief interlude when Alexander of Macedonia overran the Persian Empire. After the advent of Islam, Iranians, now devout Muslims, continued to dominate Iraqi affairs, playing a significant role in the uprising of Mukhtar ibn Abi Obaidah Thaqafi to avenge the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWA) grandson, Imam Husain (AS). During Abbasid times, in addition to viziers and state officials, most of the Islamic scholars and scientists of Baghdad, were Iranians who wrote in Arabic and even perfected Arabic grammar. With the weakening of the Abbasids, Baghdad again became the seat of power of the Iranian Buwaiyhid dynasty, and in later centuries, despite Ottoman control, whenever a strong ruler emerged in Iran, such as Shah Abbas I or Nader Shah, Baghdad and most of Iraq reverted to Iranian control.
296 solar years ago, on this day in 1725 AD, in Isfahan, Mahmoud Ghilzai Hotaki, the Afghan occupier of Iran, brutally slaughtered 39 family members of the deposed Safavid monarch, Shah Sultan Hussain, including 11 princes. Mahmoud who had seized control of the Persian Empire in 1722 went mad and was killed in April 1725 by his cousin, Ashraf, who now styled himself king, until he was defeated in battle four years later in 1729 by Nader Quli Afshar (later Nader Shah), the commander of the army of the last Safavid king, Shah Tampasp II. The 6-year Afghan occupation of Iran was a period of great chaos. To the Safavid Dynasty that ruled Iran and adjoining lands for two-and-a-quarter centuries, goes the credit of giving Iran religious identity, national solidarity, cultural affinity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty.
209 solar years ago, on this day in 1812 AD, the English author and novelist, Charles Dickens, was born. His masterpiece is "A Christmas Carol”, which depicts how a very rich but stingy person was finally forced to change his miserly habits to help the poor. Some of his more famous novels include "Oliver Twist”, "Great Expectations, "Hard Times” and "A Tale of Two Cities.” Dickens who was editor of "Bentley’s Miscellany” a general interest monthly magazine, from January 1837 to 1839, paid tribute to the Martyr of Karbala in it, by writing:
"If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.”
Dickens was founder of the Realism Style in English literature.
165 solar years ago, on this day in 1856 AD, the Muslim Kingdom of Awadh (the granary of northern India) was annexed by the British, who imprisoned its ruler Wajed Ali Shah, after a 9-year reign and exiled him to Calcutta, thereby ending the 124-year rule of the Naishapuri Dynasty established in 1722 by Seyyed Mohammad Amin Musavi Sa’adat Khan Burhan ul-Mulk of Khorasan, the Nawab-Wazir or prime minister of the Moghal Emperor, Mohammad Shah. Before its migration to India, the family, which was descended from Imam Musa Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had been settled in Naishapur by Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty of Iran. With the weakening of Mughal rule, the 7th ruler of Awadh, Ghazi od-Din Haider, crowned himself as king of the region which is now part of the Uttar Pradesh and Utranachal Pradesh states of India. The dynasty followed the school of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt and adopted the Imami legal system of government that had been codified and successfully implemented for over 170 years in the Deccan (South India) by the Qutb Shahi Dynasty of Iranian origin of Golkandah-Haiderabad. The result was the spread of the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt and the emergence of outstanding ulema, writing in Arabic, Persian, and later Urdu – such as Ayatollah Dildar Ali Naseerabadi and the celebrated Mir Hamed Hussain Musavi, the author of "Abaqaat al-Anwaar”. With their capital, first in Faizabad and then in Lucknow, the rulers of Awadh gave distinct flavour to Indian Muslim culture, dress, arts, literature, cuisine, and the mourning ceremonies for the Martyrs of Karbala by building majestic Hussainiyyas, such as the Asefia Imambara. They also contributed to development projects in the holy cities of Najaf, Karbala and Kazemayn in Iraq. Wajed Ali Shah, during the 31 more years he was alive in exile, transformed the vast 4-mile long Matiaborj area on the River Hooghly near Calcutta into a mini Lucknow, building a grand Hussainiyya and spending lavishly to recreate the pomp and splendour of his opulent days of kingship.
127 solar years ago, on this day in 1894 AD, the Belgian inventor and musician, Adolphe Sax, died at the age of 80. He was the son of a seller of musical instruments, and invented the Saxaphone.
70 solar years ago, on this day in 1951 AD, during the US-backed war to divide the Korean Peninsula, South Korea butchered seven hundred and five suspected communist sympathizers with the approval of the American forces.
47 solar years ago, on this day in 1974 AD, the small island-state of Grenada in the Caribbean Sea gained independence from the British. The first Europeans to occupy it were the Spanish under Christopher Colombus in 1498. In 1674 it was seized by the French, and over a century later in 1783 it fell to the British. In 1979, five years after independence, Maurice Bishop formed a socialist government in Grenada and established close relations with Cuba. In 1982, Grenada was attacked and occupied by the US, which brutally killed Maurice Bishop. It is now ruled by a US client regime.
42 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, millions of people all over Iran staged rallies in support of the provisional government announced by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). Later in the day, air force officers, clad in their uniforms, assembled before the Imam to pledge allegiance. Imam Khomeini said in a famous statement: "Till now you had been in the service of the wayward, but have now returned to the way of the holy Qur’an. May the holy Qur’an be your Guardian and Protector, and hopefully, with your support the people of Iran will succeed in forming the government of Islamic justice.” The remnants of the Shah’s regime were frightened at this development. In view of the importance of this event, every year, air force personnel assemble this day before the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to renew their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution. The day is designated Air Force Day.
36 lunar years ago, on this day in 1406 AH, Ayatollah Morteza Ha’iri Yazdi, passed away at the age of 72 and was laid to rest in Qom in the holy mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema al-Ma’soumah (SA), beside the grave of his esteemed father, Sheikh Abdul-Karim Ha’iri, the Reviver of the Qom seminary. Born in Arak, he moved to Qom in childhood, and after initial studies under his father, learnt jurisprudence and other branches of Islamic sciences from the leading scholars of his time. He then moved to holy Najaf in Iraq, to master various subjects including exegesis of the holy Qur’an and theology. In Iran, he became one of the founders of the Alavi Saving Bank in Qom and a member of Iran’s Constitution’s Assembly of Experts following the victory of the Islamic Revolution. He paid special attention to honoring the religious rituals, including the pilgrimage to the holy shrines of the Infallible Imams, and holding mourning ceremonies to rid themselves of commemorating the tragedies befalling the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt.
22 solar years ago, on this day in 1999 AD, King Hussein of the British created state called Jordan died at the age of 64 after a rule of 47 years. Son of Talal, who was deposed by the British on grounds of insanity only a year after succeeding his assassinated father, Abdullah Ibn Sharif Hussein of Hijaz, he was known as the CIA king, for his loyalty to Britain and the US. Though claiming descent from Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the cousin, son-in-law and divinely-designated Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), he was in secret league with the illegal Zionist entity Israel, and was a staunch opponent of the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt, as was evident by his support for the bloodthirsty Ba’thist dictator Saddam during the 8-year war against the Islamic Republic of Iran (1980-88) and the brutal suppression of the Iraq’s Shi’ite Arab majority in 1991. He was succeeded by his son, Abdullah – born to a British Christian woman.
15 solar years ago, on this day in 2006 AD, Iranian newspaper "Hamshahri” announced that it would hold a competition for cartoons on the alleged Holocaust to test whether the West extends the principle of freedom of expression to this doubtful incidence, as it did to the insulting caricatures it attributed to the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011 AD, Iran opened its first centre to receive satellite images, a new stage in its space program that coincided with celebrations marking the anniversary of the triumph of the Islamic Revolution.