Today is Monday; 20th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 25th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani 1442 lunar hijri; and February 8, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1139 solar years ago, on this day in 882 AD, Mohammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid, the Founder of the Ikhshidid Dynasty of Egypt, was born in Baghdad in a Turkic family. His grandfather Juff ibn Yitakin was from the Farghana Valley region of Central Asia, where he was bought as a slave-soldier to serve the Abbasid regime in Samarra, Iraq. Mohammad spent a great part of his youth in the Levant, where his father Tughj served as governor to the dynasty founded by Ahmad ibn Tulun – son of a the fellow Turkic slave-soldier, Tulun. Here, at his father’s side, he gained valuable experiences in war and administration – serving Tughj as sub-governor of Tiberias in Palestine. After years of fluctuating fortunes he established himself as a senior official in Egypt and his position in the Abbasid court helped his recognition as governor of Egypt and southern parts of Syria in 935. In 938, he asked the caliph in Baghdad to grant him the honorific title of "Ikhshid”, held originally by the Iranian kings of his ancestral homeland Farghana. He died in 946 and the dynasty set up by him collapsed in 969 with the Fatemid conquest of Egypt.
771 solar years ago, on this day in 1250 AD, the Seventh Crusade of a strong European Christian force led by Louis IX, King of France, after invading Egypt in June 1249 and occupying the port city of Damietta, clashed at al-Mansurah with the Ayyubid forces led by Amir Fakhr od-Din Yusuf, and the Turkic Mamluk (slave) generals, Farres od-Din Aktai and Baibars al-Bunduqdari, resulting in a resounding victory three days later for the Muslim defenders. The goals of the Crusaders were to destroy the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria and capture Bayt al-Moqaddas. Encouraged by the news of the death of the Ayyubid Sultan as-Salih Ayyub the Crusaders began their march towards Cairo. Shajar ad-Durr, the Turkic widow of the dead Kurdish Sultan of Egypt concealed the news for a while until Turanshah, the son and heir of the deceased, would come and lead the army. The rest is history. The invaders suffered a resounding defeat as some thirty thousand French and other European soldiers fell on the battlefield while thousands more were taken prisoners, along with King Louis who was captured in the nearby village of Moniat Abdullah (now Meniat an-Nasr), while trying to escape. He was chained and confined in the house of Ibrahim Ibn Loqman, while his brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Alphonse de Poitiers, were made prisoners, and carried to the same house with other French nobles. A camp was set up outside the town to shelter the rest of the prisoners. Louis was ransomed for 400,000 dinars. After pledging not to return to Egypt, the French king surrendered Damietta and left with his brothers and 12,000 war prisoners whom the Egyptian Muslims agreed to release. The Battle of Mansurah became a source of inspiration for Muslim writers and poets. One poem ended with the following verses: "If they (the Franks) decide to return to take revenge or to commit a wicked deed, tell them: The house of Ibn Loqman is intact, the chains still there as well as the eunuch Sobih”.
756 solar years ago, on this day in 1265 AD, Hulagu Khan, the founder of the Ilkhanid Mongol Dynasty of Iran-Iraq, and parts of Syria, Turkey, Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, died at the age of 47 after a rule of 9 years that saw his bloodthirsty Buddhist armies massacre over a million Muslims in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Grandson of the savage Mongol marauder, Genghis Khan, in 1255 he was sent by his elder brother, Mongke the Great Khan, to destroy the remaining Muslim states in southwestern Asia. Hulagu led the largest ever army assembled, to brutally subjugate the whole of Iran including the impregnable fortress of Alamout. In 1258 he ended the Abbasid caliphate by sacking Baghdad and killing an estimated million men, women, and children, in addition to destroying mosques, libraries, hospitals, and palaces. In 1260 his armies captured Aleppo and Damascus in Syria to end the Ayyubid dynasty, and marched towards Egypt, but were decisively defeated in Palestine by the Mamluk Sultan at the historic Battle of Ayn Jalout. Hulagu was recalled to Mongolia on his brother, Mongke’s death, and on his return to Iran in 1262 after another of his brothers, the famous Kublai, was installed as the Great Khan, he was embroiled in civil war with his cousin, Berke Khan of the Golden Horde Khanate of Eurasia. Berke, who had become a Muslim, decisively defeated him in the Caucasus to avenge the destruction of Islamic lands. Hulagu died in his capital Maragha, and was buried on Shahi Island in Lake Oroumiyeh in a funeral that featured human sacrifice. One of his sons, Tekudar, converted to Islam, took the name of Ahmad, and ruled for two years from 1282 to 1284, before being killed by the Buddhist ruling elite. This did not stop the Ilkhanid dynasty from becoming Muslim and fully Persianized with the ascension in 1295 of Hulagu’s great-grandson, Mahmoud Ghazaan Khan.
733 lunar years ago, on this day in 709 AH, Ahmad ibn Mohammad Ibn Ataollah al-Iskandari, the third sheikh of the Shadhili Sufi Order, passed away in Cairo. He was from Alexandria and systematized the Order’s doctrines by recording the biographies of its founder, Sidi Abu’l-Hassan ash-Shadhili, and his successor, Sidi Abu’l-Abbas al-Mursi. Ibn Ataollah authored a treatise on "dhikr”, titled "Miftah al-Falah” (Key to Salvation), which is a Sufi manual of invocation. His compilation of aphorisms helped to make the group very popular. The wide circulation of his written works led to spread of the Shadhili order in North Africa.
334 solar years ago, on this day in 1687 AD, Moghal Emperor, Aurangzeb, after occupying the city of Haiderabad, laid siege to the impregnable Golkandah fortress, the capital of the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Iranian origin. For over seven months the siege dragged on, with the Moghals being exhausted as a result of casualties suffered from the regular sorties launched by the defenders. The crafty Aurangzeb (who had imprisoned his own father and killed his brothers and nephews) bribed an Afghan commander named Abdullah Khan Panni to open in the night a door of the fortress, through which the Moghals entered and overcame the surprised defenders. It was through treachery that the 170-year long rule of the Qutb Shahis of Qara Qoyonlu origin from Hamedan in western Iran, ended in the Deccan. The last sultan, Abu’l-Hassan Tana Shah, was taken prisoner and confined to Daulatabad Fort until death. The Qutb Shahi sultans, who maintained cordial relations with Iran and considered the Safavids as emperors, were great patrons of Persian art, architecture, literature, medicine, astronomy and religious sciences. Many prominent Iranians from all walks of life settled in Haiderabad and richly contributed to the flowering of civilization.
296 solar years ago, on this day in 1725 AD, Peter the Great, the 5th ruler of the Romanov Dynasty who expanded the Tsardom of Russia into the Russian Empire, and crowned himself the first emperor, died at the age of 53. He succeeded his half-brother Ivan V in 1696, and pursued expansionist policies focused on access to the warm waters of the Black Sea, which brought him into conflict with the Ottoman Empire. He narrowly escaped capture and certain death at the hands of Turkish troops during the Russian defeat in the War of Pruth in 1711 (in present day Moldova), by bribing Grand Vizier Baltaji Mohammad Pasha with the crown jewels to allow retreat, at the suggestion of his mistress Catherine, whom he married the next year and made her empress for saving his life and the Russian Empire. Peter then brutally attacked and seized the Muslim Khanate of Crimea and occupied the lands of the Bashkir Muslims as well as the Muslim Khanate of Astrakhan on the northern shores of the Caspian Sea. He also pursued expansionist policies westwards in Europe that brought him into conflict with Poland and Sweden. Peter the Great was a violent and ruthless person, who killed his own sole son Alexei on suspicion of plotting against him. During his reign the life, assets, and dignity of people were exposed to his aggression.
193 solar years ago, on this day in 1828 AD, Jules Verne, French author and poet, best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction, was born in the Atlantic seaport of Nantes. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the Voyages Extraordinaires, a widely popular series of 54 adventure novels including "Journey to the Center of the Earth”, "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, and "Around the World in Eighty Days”. He died in 1905.
132 lunar years ago, on this day in 1309 AH, the tobacco concession to the British by Nasser od-Din Shah Qajar had to be cancelled, following the Iranian nation’s support for the fatwa issued from the holy city of Samarra in Iraq – after due warnings – by Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi against tobacco consumption, since it was ruining Iran’s economy. His verdict read: Tobacco consumption is tantamount to war against the Imam of the Age (God hasten his reappearance). Even the wife of the Shah broke the pipes and forbade tobacco in the royal palace.
117 solar years ago, on this day in 1904 AD, Russo-Japanese war broke out on the refusal of the militarized Meiji regime in Tokyo to negotiate with the declining power of the Tsars in Moscow. The major theatres of operations were the Japanese occupied Chinese territories of southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden; and the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea. The Russians were poorly organized and the Japanese defeated them in a series of battles on land and at sea. The war that ended in September 1905 with the mediation of Western powers, resulted in combined casualties of 150,000, with the Japanese losing 80,000 and the Russians 70,000. In addition there were over 20,000 Chinese deaths. In its aftermath, Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula by paying scant regard to any terms, treaties, or international obligations. The crafty British aided the Japanese against the Russians by passing on to them strategic intelligence information.
58 solar years ago, on this day in 1963 AD, Colonel Abdus-Salaam A’ref, with the help of Ba’thist army officers, seized power in Iraq as president, after bombarding the residence of President Abdul-Karim Qasim and killing him. Three years later in 1966, he was killed in a plane crash while returning to Baghdad from Basra, where in a speech broadcast on radio he had indulged in blasphemous demagoguery by questioning the famous sermon of the Prophet’s First Infallible Heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) concerning the fickleness of faith of the Iraqi people.
42 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, mercenary soldiers of the tottering Pahlavi regime attacked an air force base in Tehran following the pledge of allegiance given a day before by air force officers and personnel to the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). The public on learning of this dastardly attack, rushed to the airbase and despite being lightly armed overcame the Shah’s mercenaries to rescue the air force personnel. This was an important development in the events of the Islamic Revolution that triumphed two days later.
35 solar years ago, on this day in 1986 AD, Muslim combatants of Iran launched the Val-Fajr-8 Operations against the Ba’thist occupiers and after liberating Iranian territory crossed the Arvandroud or Shatt al-Arab waterway to take control of the Faw Peninsula on the Iraqi side of the border that shattered the morale of the enemy forces. Over 50,000 of the heavily-armed Ba’thist troops were either killed or wounded in this heroic operation while 600 tanks and 45 aircraft were destroyed. Saddam’s Western and Eastern backers, who used to supply his forces state-of-the-art weaponry besides intelligence on movement of Iranian troops, were amazed and astounded by the speed and effectiveness of the Iranian defenders.
27 lunar years ago, on this day in 1415 AH, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki passed away in holy Qom at the age of 103. A student of the Reviver of the Qom Seminary, Ayatollah Abdul-Karim Ha’eri, he taught for 35 years, and for 30 years led the daily prayer at the Faiziyeh Theological School. He was among the teachers of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (God bless him).
24 solar years ago, on this day in 1997 AD, Master Seyyed Abu’l-Fotouh Arabzadeh "Rassam”, the Father of Modern Iranian Carpets, passed away at the age of 82. Born in Tabriz, he had a passion for discerning the different shades of colour, many of which were his own creation. He started his career in Tabriz under guidance of his father, as a painter and designer of carpets. In Tehran he continued this art and became an expert designer of the traditional ‘Kashi’ or mosaics as well. He was also an expert in music, sculpture, calligraphy, and drama-writing. In 1995, he donated 66 fine hand-woven carpets to Tehran Municipality for establishment of the Foundation of Culture and Carpet-Art. Some of his creations are named: "Shores of Imagination”, "Cage of Colours”, and "Conquest of Somnath”.