Today is Wednesday; 29th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 5th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and February 17, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1657 solar years ago, on this day in 364 AD, Roman Emperor Jovian died in Antioch during retreat from Mesopotamia following the shattering defeat inflicted by the Iranian army of Sassanid Emperor Shapur II eight months earlier at the Battle of Samarra in Iraq where his predecessor, Emperor Julian the Apostate, was killed. This means Jovian ruled for only 8 months during which he sought peace with Sassanid Persia on humiliating terms by surrendering the fortresses of Nisibis, Castra Maurorum and Singara, in what are now parts of northern Syria and southern Turkey. The Romans also surrendered their interests in the Kingdom of Armenia to the Persians.
1350 lunar years ago, on this day in 92 AH, Tareq bin Ziyad, crossed the Mediterranean from the northwestern African coast and landed on the island known ever since in his memory as "Jabal at-Tareq” (Rock or Mount of Tareq, Latinized as Gibraltar). He was governor of Tangiers under Musa bin Nusayr, the conqueror and Emir of the Province of Ifriqiya (present day western Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco). The Muslims under Tareq swept through Spain and soon conquered the whole Iberian Peninsula. Later, they crossed the Pyrenees into southern France and conquered it. Tareq was made governor of Islamic Spain but was eventually called back to Damascus by the jealous Omayyad caliph, Walid I, who also relieved Musa bin Nusayr of the overall charge of northwest Africa, Spain and the islands off the coast of France. There are three different accounts of the origins of Tareq given by Arab historians – he was a Persian from Hamedan; he was an Arab of the Sadf tribe; he was a Berber from North Africa. Musa bin Nusayr is also said to be the son of an Iranian Christian, according to the historian Tabari; while others say he belonged to the Lakhmid Arab clan who were clients of the Sassanid Dynasty.
1198 lunar years ago, on this day in 244 AH, the prominent Islamic scientist and lexicographer, Abu Yusuf Yaqub ibn Ishaq, popularly known as "Ibn Sikkit” was brutally martyred by the cruel Abbasid caliph, Mutawakkil, who ordered the pulling out of his tongue through the nape for speaking the truth. Born in Khuzestan, southwestern Iran, he studied in Baghdad under prominent scholars, and his fame led Mutawakkil to invite him to Samarra where he was appointed as tutor to two of the caliph’s sons. Mutawakkil, who is notorious for his sacrilegious destruction of the shrine of the Martyr of Karbala and his forcing of the Prophet’s 10th Infallible Successor, Imam Hadi (AS) to come to Samarra, once asked Ibn Sikkit whether his sons were superior to the Prophet’s two grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS). The scholar boldly replied that even Qanbar, the black slave of Imam Ali (AS), was better than the caliph’s sons. The enraged caliph ordered his execution. Here is one of his poems worth pondering upon.
1099 solar years ago, on this day in 923 AD, the renowned Iranian Islamic historian and exegete of the holy Qur’an, Abu Ja’far Mohammad bin Jarir at-Tabari, passed away in Baghdad at the age of 84. Born in Amol in Tabaristan (present day Mazandaran) near the Caspian Sea, he left his hometown at the age of 12 to study in Rayy, where he remained for five years studying Islam and history and was introduced to pre-Islamic history as well. He then went to the Abbasid capital, Baghdad, for further studies, and in his late twenties took up travel, visiting Basra, Kufa and Waset to meet scholars, and later going to Syria, Palestine and Egypt. After staying for three years in Egypt he returned to Baghdad, performing the Hajj pilgrimage on the way. He never married and never took a government job or judicial position. He retained close ties with his hometown, Amol, to which he returned at least twice, the last time at the age 65. He initially followed the Shafei School of jurisprudence, but later devised a jurisprudential school of his own named "Jariri” after him, which, however, did not survive. Tabari’s monumental work is titled "Tarikh ar-Rusol wa’l-Mulouk” (History of Prophets and Kings). It is a universal history from the time of creation to some seven years before his death. His history is renowned for its detail and near accuracy concerning Muslim history, as well as the history of pre-Islamic Iran, Rome, Greece, Egypt and other places. His exegesis of the holy Qur’an is titled "Jame’ al-Bayan”. He also wrote a two-volume book titled "al-Wilayah” in which he has collected various sources of the historical event of Ghadeer-Khom, where on 18th Zilhijja, 10 AH, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) while returning from his farewell Hajj pilgrimage, was commanded by God Almighty to proclaim Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as vicegerent.
855 lunar years ago, on this day in 587 AH, the Iranian mystical philosopher, Shahab od-Din Sohrewardi, was martyred in Aleppo, Syria, by the Kurdish ruler, Malik az-Zaher, the son of Salah od-Din Ayyoubi. Born in Sohreward, near the northwestern city of Zanjan, he went to Iraq and Syria to develop his knowledge. During his short life of less than forty years he wrote valuable works that established him as founder of a new school of philosophy, called "Hikmat al-Ishraq” (Illuminationist Philosophy). He is thus known as "Shaikh-e Ishraq”. His views angered his opponents, who had him arrested or charges of heresy and subsequently martyred. Sohrewardi has left behind some 50 works in Persian and Arabic.
453 solar years ago, on this day in 1568 AD, while the 10th Ottoman sultan and 3rd self-styled Turkic caliph, Selim II, had given up all state affairs and immersed himself in wine and pleasures of the flesh, his able Grand Vizier, Mohammad Sokollu (an ethnic Bosnian), succeeded in concluding a treaty with the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II, who agreed to pay an annual tribute of 30,000 ducats and cede authority to the Turks in Walachia (in present day Romania) as well as in Moldavia.
421 solar years ago, on this day in 1600 AD, Giordano Bruno, the Italian philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer, was burned at the stake on charges of heresy by the Christian church for suggesting the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of planets. Bruno was deeply influenced by the astronomical facts of the universe which he learned from Latin translations of Arabic works written by Islamic scholars and scientists several centuries before. He refused to renounce his scientific discoveries and was brutally killed by the Catholic sect of Christianity.
212 solar years ago, on this day in 1809 AD, the gory Battle of Zaragoza between French and Spanish forces ended with French victory and occupation of the city of Zaragoza in eastern Spain. The war broke out as of November 15, 1808, with Napoleon’s attack that aroused strong resistance by the Spanish people. Both sides were ruthless, and countless people were killed in this war. Although Spain was occupied by France, after Napoleon’s retreat from Russia and his subsequent defeat by the allied European armies, Spain was liberated.
193 solar years ago, on this day in 1827 AD, the Swiss scientist, Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, died at the age of 81. An expert in natural sciences and mathematics, he was fluent in several languages.
104 solar years ago, on this day in 1917 AD, Egyptian philosopher and poet, Abdur-Rahman Badawi, was born in the village of Sharabas, some 150 km from Cairo. He has been called the "Master of Arab Existentialism.” and authored more than 150 works. He wrote fluently in his native Arabic, English, Spanish, French and German; and read Greek, Latin and Persian. From 1950 to 1956 he taught at Ibrahim Pasha University. As a member of a 1954 committee to draft a new Egyptian constitution, he clashed with President Jamal Abdun-Nasser, who dissolved the committee in 1956. From 1956 to 1958 he was a cultural attaché in Switzerland. He described leaving Nasser’s Egypt to teach at Sorbonne University in Paris as escaping from "the big jail”. He later moved to Libya as university professor, and in 1973 when his students demanded freedom of expression, he was imprisoned by Mu’ammar Qadhafi, who publicly burned his personal library. After release he moved to Kuwait from 1975 to 1982. He died in 2005 at the age of 88.
63 lunar years ago, on this day in 1379 AH, the prominent religious scholar, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Yathrebi-Kashani passed away at the age of 68 in Kashan and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of Imamzadeh Habib ibn Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS). Born in the holy city of Karbala, at the age of 5 he returned to his ancestral town Kashan, along with his scholarly father, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Reza Yathrebi-Kashani. He was initially taught by his father and other scholars of the Kashan Seminary, before travelling to Iraq for higher religious studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf, where during his 7-year stay, his teachers included Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Kazem Yazdi, Grand Ayatollah Sheikh osh-Shari’ah Isfahani, Grand Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Hussain Na’ini, and Ayatollah Aqa Ziya od-Din Iraqi. In 1339 AH, he returned to Kashan on request of his father, and two years later, on the invitation of Grand Ayatollah Sheikh Abdul-Karim Ha’eri he became an instructor at the seminary in holy Qom, where his students included Ayatollah Seyyed Shahab od-Din Mar’ashi, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Baqer Mohaqqiq Damad, Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli, and the future Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). Seven years later, on his father’s death, he returned to Kashan to take up the latter’s responsibilities at the local seminary, which he ably discharged for over three decades.
43 solar years ago, on this day in 1978 AD, the people of Tabriz in northwestern Iran rose against the despotic regime of the US supported Shah, on the 40th day of the martyrs of the Qom uprising. This was a historical movement which shocked the Pahlavi regime, and triggered a series of uprisings in the different cities of Iran, which ultimately resulted in the downfall of the Shah and victory of the Islamic Revolution.
32 solar years ago, on this day in 1989 AD, the Arab Maghreb Union was formed in Morocco by the host country along with Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Mauritania, for facilitating trade, commerce, and cultural ties in North Africa. However, disputes among member states, especially Algeria and Morocco, have obstructed the materialization of the Union’s goals.
13 solar years ago, on this day in 2008 AD, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, after endorsement by its parliament with Hashem Tachi as Prime Minister. Landlocked Kosovo, whose population is more than 90 percent Muslim and composed of ethnic Albanians, was oppressed by the Serbs. It shares borders with the Republic of Macedonia to the south, Albania to the west and Montenegro to the northwest. The remaining frontier belt is with the Central Serbian region which is the source of international dispute. The largest city and the capital is Pristina. It was in 1389 at the Battle of Kosovo that it became part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In 1455 the people embraced the truth of Islam and till 1912 remained under Ottoman rule, first as part of the ayalat or state of Rumelia, and from 1864 as a separate vilayet or province. The Vilayet of Kosovo was an area much larger than today’s Kosovo; it included all of today’s Kosovo territory, sections of the Sandjak region cutting into present-day central Serbia and Montenegro along with the Kukes municipality of present-day northern Albania and parts of north-western Macedonia with the city of Skopje as its capital. Kosovo also has many followers of the Bektashi Sufi order, which is devoted to the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and was founded by Iran’s Haji Bektash Vali of Neishabur, Khorasan in the 13th century, and was once widespread in the Ottoman Empire.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011 AD, people’s protests began in Libya against the dictatorial rule of Mu’ammar Qadhafi, who was eventually overthrown and killed the following year.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011 AD, in a bid to crush the popular uprising of the people of Bahrain that formally started three days ago, forces of the repressive Aal-e Khalifa minority regime launched a deadly pre-dawn raid on the peaceful protesters assembled at the Maidan Lu’lu (Pearl Square) in Manama. The day is known as Bloody Thursday and saw several people martyred and injured.
5 solar years ago, on this day in 2016 AD, the famous Egyptian journalist, Mohammad Hassanain Haikal, passed away in his hometown Cairo at the age of 93. Born in a wealthy merchant family, he was highly educated, and chose journalism as his career. For 17 years from 1957 to 1974, he was editor-in-chief of Egypt’s leading Arabic newspaper "al-Ahram”. For more than half-a-century he was an authoritative commentator on Arab affairs. Haikal articulated the thoughts of President Jamal Abdun-Nasser earlier in his career, and worked as a ghostwriter for him and his ideology of pan-Arabism. He was appointed minister of information in 1970 by the next president, Anwar Sadaat, but resigned from government in 1974 over differences. Throughout his career he was a critic of the military regimes of Anwar Sadaat and Hosni Mubarak, which he perceived as having departed from Nasser’s original nationalist dream. He visited Iran following the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and met with Imam Khomeini (RA). The result of the meeting was a book in English published in 1981 and titled "The Return of the Ayatollah”.