Today is Saturday; 2nd of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 8th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and February 20, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
763 solar years ago, on this day in 1258 AD, Musta’sim-Billah, the 37th and last self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, was wrapped in a carpet and trampled to death under the feet of horses on the orders of the Mongol conqueror Hulagu Khan, ten days after the sack of Baghdad. The incompetent Musta’sim, whose 16-year rule was confined to Iraq and some eastern parts of Syria, had neither raised an army to defend Baghdad nor did he attempt to negotiate with Hulagu, to whom two years earlier he had supplied troops to conquer the Ismaili Nizari stronghold of Alamout (150 km west of modern Tehran). The contemporary Italian traveler, Marco Polo, reports in his "Travels” that upon finding the caliph’s great stores of treasure which could have been spent for the defence of the realm, Hulagu locked him in his treasure room without food or water for a while, telling him: "Eat of your treasure as much as you want, since you are so fond of it.” The curtain thus came down on 508 solar years of the Abbasid caliphate founded by Abu’l-Abbas as-Saffah on defeating the Omayyads in 750 AD by hijacking the sentiments of the Arab and Iranian masses for the Ahl al-Bayt, thereby depriving once again the progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) of their political right to rule the Islamic realm.
409 lunar years ago, on this day in 1033 AH, the renowned theologian and hadith scholar, Shaikh Abu Ja’far Mohammad ibn al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn al-Hussain al-Ameli al-Mashghari, popularly known as al-Horr al-Ameli, was born in the village of Mashghara in the JabalAmel region of southern Lebanon. His early education began with a family of teachers that included his father, his paternal uncle, his maternal grandfather ShaikhAbdus-Salaam ibn Mohammad, and one of his father’s maternal uncles, Shaikh Ali ibn Mahmoud. He also studied under Hussain ibn Hassan ibnYunus Zaher and Hassan ibnZain od-Din Ameli, who was the great-grandson of the Second Martyr. Husain Zaher was the first to give him the ijaza or permission to teach and transmit hadith. He remained for the first forty years of his life in his homeland, performing the Hajj to Mecca twice and pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Iraq. He eventually journeyed to Mashhad, Iran, and settled there for the rest of his life as Shaikh al-Islam at the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Before arriving in Mashhad he stayed for a while in the Safavid capital, Isfahan, where he became acquainted with the famous Allamah Mohammad BaqerMajlisi. The meeting between these two scholars left an impression on both of them and Majlisi introduced Horr al-Amili to the Safavid Emperor, Shah Sulaiman. He passed away in Mashhad at the age of 81 and was laid to rest in one of the portals of the holy shrine, where his grave is still the site of pilgrimage. He wrote numerous books including "Wasa’el ash-Shia”, which is a vast but concise compilation and classification of Hadith that took him 18 years to complete. Among his other famous works is "al-Jawaher as-saniyafi’l-Ahadith al-Qudsiya”, and "Amal al-Amel fi UlamaJabal al-Amel”, which is a biographical dictionary of Shi’ite Muslim scholars who originated from the JabalAmel region.
345 solar years ago, on this day in 1677 AD, France defeated the Spanish in the Caribbean Sea and took control of Haiti, which it ruled for 130 years. In 1804, a major uprising of the black people enslaved in the Americas by the Europeans, took place in Haiti, which emerged as the first independent country in Latin America.
251 lunar years ago, on this day in 1191 AH, the prominent Islamic scholar, Seyyed Hussain son of Seyyed Ja’far Khwansari, passed away. He groomed numerous students; some of whom became the leading ulema of their day, such as Allamah Bahr al-Oloum. He has left behind numerous books including commentaries on the Ziyarat-e Ashura of Imam Husain (AS) and the famous supplication of the month of Ramadhan, known as Dua Abu HamzaThumali that was taught by Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) to his disciple of the same name.
155 solar years ago, on this day in 1866 AD, France defeated Mexican freedom fighters and crowned its Austrian client, Prince Maximilian, as king of Mexico. Five years later, the Mexicans rallied under former President, Benito Juarez, to reinstate him on ousting Maximilian.
114 lunar years ago, on this day in 1328 AH, Ayatollah Seyyed Abdullah Behbahani, who was a leading religious figure of the Constitutional Movement, was martyred by terrorists at the age of 68. Born in holy Najaf, in Iraq, to Seyyed Ismail Mojtahed Behbahani, he completed his education there under such senior ulema as Ayatollah Sheikh Morteza Ansari, and Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi – famous for fatwa against tobacco consumption. At the age of 35, after attaining the status of ijtehad, he came to Iran and involved himself in the struggle against the despotic rule of the Qajarid Dynasty, along with Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Sadeq Tabatabai. He played a pivotal role in the victory of the Constitutional Revolution, making utmost efforts to this end, which led to his martyrdom.
94 solar years ago, on this day in 1928 AD, Britain granted ‘protectorate’ status to Jordan – a state it had created in 1920 by the river of the same name, by dividing the historical land of "Shaam” (Greater Syria) in collaboration with France on the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War 1. Britain installed as king of Jordan, Abdullah, a son of their agent Sharif Hussain of Hejaz, for his services to London during World War 1 against the Turks. Faisal, another son of Sharif Hussain, was placed as king in Damascus, but when driven out by the French four months later, was installed in Baghdad as king in 1921 against the wishes of the Iraqi people after Britain crushed the popular uprising led by Ayatollah Mirza Taqi Shirazi and Ayatollah Kashef al-Gheta. In the mid-1920s when Sharif Hussain lost Hejaz, including the religious cities of Mecca and Medina and the commercial centres of Jeddah and Ta’ef, to another British agent, Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud and his Wahhabi brigands from Najd, Britain bestowed upon the new strongman in 1932 an artificial entity called Saudi Arabia. Though Britain granted independence to Jordan in 1946, it continued to dictate orders before handing it over to the US which today exercises hegemony over this land. Jordan, like several other Arab states of West Asia, has no historical roots and almost 80 percent of its population is made up of Palestinians. It is part of the historical land of "Shaam” which was carved up by Britain and France into Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine – where in 1948 the British planted Israel after illegally settling on this Muslim land, hundreds of thousands of European Jews. Demonstrations frequently rock the Jordanian capital, Amman, and other cities, calling for reforms and scrapping of the monarchy due to its subservience to the US and its treasonous ties with Israel.
74 solar years ago, on this day in 1947 AD, Britain agreed to grant independence to the Subcontinent August, but after partitioning it into India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan (which in 1971 became Bangladesh), while deliberately leaving Muslim-majority Kashmir as a bone of contention. The fate of Haiderabad-Deccan which was a Muslim kingdom and the largest of the subcontinent’s semi-independent states (nearly the size of France) was left by Britain in limbo despite the fact that its ruler, Nizam ul-Mulk Asef Jah VII, had generously helped Britain in both the World Wars with tens of millions of pounds-sterling in addition to troops. Landlocked Haiderabad-Deccan, which for a year functioned as an independent sovereign state with membership in the UN, was forced to surrender to India in September 1948 following a week-long war. It is worth noting that the British had entered Muslim-ruled India as traders in the 17th century. With weakening of the Moghal Empire, they treacherously seized in mid-18th century the province of Bengal (today’s Bangladesh and the Indian state of Bengal) from its Muslim rulers of Iranian origin – Siraj od-Dowla, Mir Ja’far, Mir Qassem – and thereupon gradually expanded their influence by taking control of the Subcontinent through wars and imposed treaties. In 1856 they annexed the Shi’ite Muslim kingdom of Awadh and deposed Wajed Ali Shah to end the 134-year rule of the Naishapuri Dynasty of Iranian origin. In 1857, when both the Muslims and Hindus rose against British rule in northern India, they were crushed, Delhi was stormed, and the nominal Moghal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was imprisoned and exiled to Burma. India was subsequently declared a part of the British Empire with Queen Victoria as Empress of India. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, because of the struggles of the Indian people against colonialism under the leadership of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Ali Brothers, Jawaharlal Nehru, etc, the British were forced to agree to independence. India despite being a non-Muslim country has the world’s largest population of Muslims of around 250 million.
61 solar years ago, on this day in 1960 AD, British archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley, whose excavation of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in modern Iraq greatly advanced knowledge of Mesopotamian civilization, died. His discovery enabled scholars to trace the history of the city from its final days during the 4th century BC back to its prehistoric beginnings (c. 4000 BC). His finds revealed much about the art, architecture, literature, religion, and administration in this "cradle of civilization.” In royal tombs dating from about 2700 BC, he uncovered the practice of the sacrificial burial of a deceased king’s personal retinue. He discovered tombs of great material wealth, gold and silver jewelry, large paintings of ancient Mesopotamian culture at its zenith, and other furnishings. The most extravagant tomb of Queen Pu-Abi was untouched by the hands of looters through the millennia, with many well-preserved items, including a cylindrical seal bearing her name in Sumerian. His widely read book "Ur of the Chaldees: A record of Seven Years of Excavation (1922-29)”, describes his findings in a manner both informative to specialists and laymen.
30 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, Abdur-Rahman Sharafkandi, the Iranian Sunni Muslim Kurdish writer, poet, and Islamic scholar, passed away at the age of 69. Born near Mahabad in western Iran in a religious family, he was active against the despotic regime of the Shah and was jailed. Upon release from prison he left Iran and lived in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. He returned to Iran before the triumph of the Islamic Revolution. Among his works are the Kurdish translation of the holy Qur’an, the translation from Arabic into Kurdish of the famous Iranian Islamic genius Abu Ali Sina’s medical manual, "al-Qanoun fi’t-Tibb” (Cannons of Medicine), in seven volumes, a book on Iran-Egypt cultural ties, and a divan of his Kurdish poetry titled: "Barg-e Sabz” (Green Leaf).
24 solar years ago, on this day in 1997 AD, a terrorist attack on Iran’s Cultural Centre in Multan, Pakistan, by Saudi-funded Takfiri terrorists of the Lashkar-e Jhangvi outfit, resulted in the martyrdom of 8 persons, including its director, Seyyed Mohammad Ali Rahimi, career diplomat who had served with distinction earlier in India, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Pakistan said the terrorists overpowered the guards at the gate, burst into the building and after spraying the staff with machinegun fire fled the scene. Iran strongly denounced it as another case of negligence by the Pakistani security department, which seven years earlier, had failed to arrest, prosecute and punish the murderers of the Iranian consul-general in Lahore, Sadeq Ganji.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2013 AD, the celebrated teacher of ethics, Ayatollah Sheikh Azizollah Khoshwaqt, passed away in the holy city of Mecca after performing the Umrah pilgrimage, and his body was flown back to Tehran and laid to rest in the holy mausoleum of Shah Abdul-Azim al-Hassani (AS) in Rayy. Born in Tehran, he was 87 years old and considered one of the most prominent students of the famous exegete of the holy Qur’an, Allamah Seyyed Mohammad Hussain Tabatabaie. His other teachers included Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Borujerdi, Martyr Ayatollah Mohammad Sadduqi, and the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). He used to lead the congregational prayers at Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS) Mosque, and at the same time taught at seminaries, with focus on ethics and moral issues, thereby attracting large number of people from all walks of life. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Imam Khomeini appointed him as his personal representative at the Council of Cultural Revolution. Ayatollah Khoshwaqt soon turned his seminary into a centre of cultural activities for revolutionary youths, who benefited from his explanation of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an, and his discourses on the bezels of wisdom bequeathed to humanity by the Commander of the Faitfhul, Imam Ali (AS) as found in the celebrated book "Nahj al-Balagha” (Highway of Eloquence). He also earned fame for his expounding of the inner meanings of the supplications of Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) in the book "Sahifat-as-Sajjadiyya”, which is known as Psalms of the Progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).