Today is Sunday; 3rd of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 9th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and February 21, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
521 lunar years ago, on this day in 921 AH, the Iranian historian and poet, Zain-ol-Abedin Ali bin Abdul-Momin, popular as Abdi Bek Navidi Shirazi, was born in Shiraz. His main book is a history of the Safavid Dynasty titled "Takmilat al-Akhbar”, in which he has chronicled events beginning from the emergence of the Safavids till the year 978 AH.His main poetical works are three Khamsas, composed in imitation of the celebrated Nizami Ganjavi. Each Khamsa comprises five independent versified narratives. Of these, "Sahifat-al-Ikhlas”, mostly a descriptive account of the palaces, gardens, and artists of Qazvin (the then capital of the Safavids) is of special interest. His Divan of Persian poetry was published for the first time in Lucknow, India, in 1267 AH (1851). Among his other works, mention could be made of a versified book titled "Jam-e Jamshid”.
512 lunar years ago, on this day in 930 AH, the young 10-year old Shah Tahmasp I was crowned as the second Safavid Emperor of Iran, a week after the death of his father and founder of the Dynasty, Shah Ismael I. His reign of 54-years is the longest of any Muslim king of Iran, and was marked by foreign threats, primarily from the Ottomans in the west and the Uzbeks in the northeast. Upon adulthood, he was able to reassert his power and consolidate the dynasty against internal and external enemies. Although he lost Iraq and parts of Anatolia to the Ottoman invaders, his pious nature made him avoid unnecessary shedding of Muslim blood. As a result, after thwarting Ottoman designs in the Caucasus, Shah Tahmasp concluded the Treaty of Amasya, with Sultan Sulaiman, resulting in a peace that lasted 30 years and led to the development of Iran. He continued his father’s policy of enlightening the people with the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). He assembled at his court in Qazvin leading ulema from all over Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, and Lebanon. As a descendant of the Prophet and head of the Safavid spiritual order tracing to Safi od-Din Ardebili, he was acknowledged as suzerain by the Shi’ite Muslim sultanates of the Deccan (Southern India). Shah Tahmasp is also known for the reception he gave to the fugitive Mughal Emperor Humayun of Hindustan (Northern Subcontinent) when the latter fled the seizure of power by the Afghan warlord, Sher Shah Suri. Humayun, whose father Babar, was a protégé of Shah Ismail Safavi, was treated as a royal guest, and besides military aid to recover his kingdom, was accompanied by a large retinue of Iranian noblemen, soldiers, and artists, which signaled an important development in Indo-Iranian relations, in all fields, such as art, architecture, language and literature. One of Shah Tahmasp’s more lasting achievements was his encouragement of the Persian carpet industry on a national scale. He was an enthusiastic patron of the arts with a particular interest in the Persian miniature, especially book illustration. He had been trained in drawing himself, and had some talent. The most famous example of such work is the "Shahnama-e Shah Tahmaspi”, containing 250 miniatures by the leading court artists of the era.
479 lunar years ago, on this day in 963 AH, Ezzeddin Seyyed Hussein, the prominent Imami scholar, was martyred through poisoning at the age of 57 in the city of Sidon in what is now Lebanon. Born in the Jabal Amel region, he mastered the sciences of the day, and had attained higher degrees of Gnosticism.
478 solar years ago, on this day in 1543 AD, Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, attained martyrdom at the age of 36 in the Battle of Wayna Daga east of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, when treacherously shot by Portuguese mercenaries in the service of the Abyssinian ruler. Of Arab origin and known as "the Conqueror”, he was Amir of the Sultanate of "Adl” (justice) and led Somali forces in the liberation of large parts of Ethiopia from 1529 to 1543. In 1531, he broke Emperor Lebna Dengel’s ability to resist in the Battle of Amba. Ten years later in 1541, with the arrival of the Portuguese to assist Emperor Gelawdewos, he sought the aid of the Ottoman Turks and inflicted a resounding defeat on Cristovao da Gama and his 400 musketeers, capturing the Portuguese commander and executing him for refusal to give up animosity towards Islam. Ahmad al-Ghazi is remembered to this day in the Horn of Africa as a national hero, and his liberation is described in detail in the "Futuh al-Habasha” (The Conquest of Abyssinia), written in Arabic by Shehab od-Din ibn Abdul-Qader. His nephew, Nour ibn Mujahid ibn Ali, known as "Saheb al-Fath ath-Thani”, avenged his death in 1559 by defeating and killing Emperor Gelawdawos in battle.
344 solar years ago, on this day in 1677 AD, the Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, died in Hague at the age of 45 of lung illness which was exacerbated by fine glass dust inhaled while grinding optical lenses. Born in a Portuguese Jewish family in Amsterdam, his inquisitive mind made him reject the Hebrew Bible which has been frequently tampered with by interpolators for more than two millenniums. As a result he was excommunicated and effectively excluded from Jewish society at age 23. His books were also later put on the Catholic Church’s Index of Forbidden Books. By laying the groundwork for the 18th century enlightenment and biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy. His magnum opus, the posthumous "Ethics”, in which he opposed Descartes’s mind-body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers. Spinoza lived an outwardly simple life as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions. The family inheritance he gave to his sister.
318 solar years ago, on this day in 1703 AD, the Islamic scholar and reformer of the Subcontinent, Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlawi, was born in Delhi during the last years of the 50-year reign of the 6th and last of the Great Moghul Emperors, Mohammad Aurangzeb, who took Muslim power to its height in South Asia, controlling all of today’s India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the eastern half of Afghanistan. After initial education in his hometown, he left for the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, where he stayed several years acquiring knowledge of various Islamic sciences, and on his return to India, strove for the revival of Islamic rule and intellectual learning. His activities were not confined to spiritual and intellectual spheres, since he lived in troubled times and saw a number of rulers ascending and falling from the throne of Delhi. He observed the deterioration of Muslim rule and wrote to several contemporary rulers, including Ahmad Shah Abdali of Afghanistan and Nizam Ali Khan Asef Jah II of Haiderabad-Deccan, to bolster the political life of Muslims. Shah Waliullah was a prolific writer in both Persian and Arabic. He wrote 51 books, of which 28 are in Arabic and twenty-three in Persian. He codified the vast store of Islamic sciences under separate heads. His works can be classified into six categories. The first deals with the holy Qur’an, including its translation into Persian for the first time in the Subcontinent. According to him, the object of studying the holy Qur’an is to reform human nature and correct wrong beliefs and injurious actions. The second category deals with hadith. The third deals with fiqh (jurisprudence). The fourth deals with mysticism. The fifth pertains to his works on Muslim philosophy and theology, including Ijtihad. The sixth category deals with problems between Shias and Sunnis. His theories pertaining to economics and socialism are of revolutionary nature.
193 solar years ago, on this day in 1828 AD, Following Qajarid Iran’s defeat in the two-year long 2nd Russo-Persian War in the Caucasus with expansionist Russia, the disgraceful Turkmenchai Treaty was imposed on Fath Ali Shah with the mediation of British colonial officials, on the threat that failure to accept will result in the march of Russian troops upon Tehran. As per this one-sided treaty, Iran handed over to Russia, the Erivan Khanate or most of present-day central Armenia, the Nakhchivan Khanate or the present-day Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, the Talysh Khanate, and the Ordubad and Mughan regions of what is now the Republic of Azerbaijan, in addition to all Iranian lands seized by Russia some fifteen years earlier, such as Georgia, Daghestan and other parts of the Caucasus. It is to be recalled that initially these battles, led by crown prince, Abbas Mirza, were in Iran’s favour but lack of support from Tehran resulted in disastrous defeats. In the aftermath of the war and signing of the humiliating treaty, anti-Russian sentiments became rampant in Iran, and on February 11, 1829, angry people stormed the Russian embassy in Tehran and killed almost everyone inside including the newly appointed ambassador, Alexander Griboyedov, who was part of the team that drafted the Turkmenchai Treaty.
134 lunar years ago, on this day in 1308 AH, the prominent source of emulation, Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Aal-e Yasin, passed away at the age of 88 in his hometown, Kazemayn, where he was head of the seminary. He studied in the seminary of holy Najaf under such famous scholars, as Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Najafi – author of "Jawaher al-Kalaam” – and became Marja’ after the passing away of the celebrated Ayatollah Shaikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli. Despite mastery over various branches of Islamic sciences, he wrote mainly on jurisprudence. His works include "Asraar-al-Faqaha”.
105 solar years ago, on this day in 1916 AD, the deadly Battle of Verdun broke out between Germany and France during World War I, and ended with the defeat of Germany. Almost one million Germans and French were killed in this battle for control of France.
103 solar years ago, on this day in the year 1918 AD, the Iranian scholar, Mirza Sadeq Hakeem titled "Adeeb ol-Mamalek Farahani”, passed away. He was well versed in Persian literature and was also acquainted with several European languages. An accomplished poet, the theme of most of his poetry is the social life of the people of his times and their political struggles. He became the editor of the daily "Adab”, and through its columns strove to awaken the people of Iran. He was actively involved in the Constitutional Movement and for a time was in-charge of the Ministry of Culture and the Judiciary. He also managed the "Majlis” and "Aftab” papers.
100 solar years ago, on this day in 1921 AD, Britain carried out a coup in Iran against the weak Qajarid ruler, Ahmad Shah, to make an obscure and illiterate soldier named Reza Khan, the commander of the army. At the same time the other British agent, Seyyed Zia od-Din Tabatabaie was made Prime Minister. Ahmad Shah Qajar was forced to leave Iran for Europe. In 1925, with British support, Reza Khan forced the Majlis to abolish the Qajar dynasty and declared himself king, with the title of Reza Shah Pahlavi. He served British colonial interests by brutally crushing the freedom movements of the Iranian Muslim people. He forced the Iranian people to give up their traditional dress for European style of dressing, forced women to unveil, suppressed the ulema, and banned religious gatherings. With the outbreak of World War 2, he made the mistake of showing tendencies towards Germany, prompting Britain to replace him on the Peacock Throne with his son Mohammad Reza in 1941. Reza Khan was sent into exile to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean by the British and died there in 1944.
69 solar years ago, on this day in 1952 AD, the Bengali Language Movement protests occurred at the University of Dhaka in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and continued for three days, resulting in the killing of several students by the security forces. The protest was a reaction to the declaration of Urdu by the Pakistani government as the national language. It is to be noted that on the birth of Pakistan in 1947, Urdu, the lingua franca of the Subcontinent that was born out of Persian and Hindustani, was declared the official language in order to foster national unity, since the vernacular languages of the new Muslim country (Sindhi, Punjabi, Baluchi, Pashto, Kashmiri, Bengali, etc) were unintelligible for interaction amongst the various ethnicities. Instead of pursuing a policy of gradual assimilation, some officials, over-zealous of forging lingual unity overnight, tried to curb the use of the local languages. This was a mistake and the issue became political in East Pakistan, whose Bengali speaking population accounted for 54 percent of the total population of entire Pakistan. Ironically, it was a Bengali from East Pakistan – Khwaja Nazimuddin of Dhaka, the successor of the Father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah – who ignited the controversy by calling for "Urdu-only” policy in a speech on 27 January 1952. Following the wide scale protests, the various parties got together to diffuse the crisis and on 29 February 1956, article 214 of the constitution of Pakistan was re-phrased to "The state language of Pakistan shall be Urdu and Bengali.” In the 1960s, however, the high-handed policies of the military regimes of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan alienated the Bengalis, resulting in the break-up of Pakistan and emergence of its eastern wing as Bangladesh in 1971.
68 solar years ago, on this day in 1953 AD, Francis Crick and James Watson reached their conclusion about the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. They made their first announcement on February 28, and their paper titled, "A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid”, was published in the 25 April 1953 issue of journal Nature.
56 solar years ago, on this day in 1965 AD, US Afro Muslim activist, Malcolm X was assassinated by white supremacist terrorists, believed to be hirelings of the government, which was afraid of the Islamic movement he had formed. He was 40 years of age when martyred, and had embraced the truth of Islam in his youth. He was active in the campaign for equal rights of the black people. He believed that racial discrimination and other injustices of the morally-bankrupt and decadent liberal democratic system of the West would only end if the dynamic laws of Islam, based on social justice and ethical virtues, are promoted.
46 solar years ago, on this day in 1973 AD, fighter planes of the illegal Zionist entity violated international air-traffic regulations by shooting down a Libyan passenger airliner, Flight 114, over the Sinai Desert, killing 108 men, women, and children. Israel is notorious for its acts of state terrorism.
37 solar years ago, on this day in 1984 AD, Iran’s Muslim combatants launched the Khaybar operations in the Hoor al-Howeizah region, southwestern Iran, to free lands occupied by the US-backed Ba’thist regime of Saddam. The Iranian combatants drove out the Ba’thist forces and took control of the oil-rich Majnoun Islands in the marshes to the north of the Iraqi port city of Basra. This operation astonished western military strategists backing Saddam and made them acknowledge the innovative abilities of Iran’s Muslim combatants despite the sanctions.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011 AD, Abdur-Redha Buhmaid of Bahrain attained martyrdom, three days after he was fatally shot at a peaceful gathering, by forces of the repressive Aal-e Khalifa minority regime.
6 solar years ago, on this day in 2015 AD, Seyyed Sadeq Tabatabaei, Iranian writer, journalist, TV host, university professor, and revolutionary politician, passed away at the age of 72 in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he had resided for the last six months. He was suffering from lung cancer. His body was brought to Tehran and laid to rest in the mausoleum of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). Born in the holy city of Qom, he was the son of Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad-Baqer Tabatabaei, while his maternal uncle was the famous Iranian leader of Lebanese Shi’a Muslims, Imam Musa as-Sadr – kidnapped and martyred by Libyan leader, Mo’ammer Qadhafi, while on a state visit to Tripoli in 1978. Sadeq Tabatabaei’s sister, Fatemeh was married to Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini, thus making him the maternal uncle of the Late Imam’s grandson, Hojjat al-Islam, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini. On completing elementary education, Sadeq Tabatabaei moved to Germany to study chemistry at Ruhr University Bochum, where he soon became a lecturer. In 1961, he went to Aachen to study biochemistry and later received his doctorate from the University of Bochum. While in Aachen, he organized a student group that campaigned against the British-installed and US supported Pahlavi regime, vehemently opposing the visit to Germany in 1967 of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. As a firm supporter of Imam Khomeini, he published many articles about him and the Islamic Revolution Movement in German newspapers. After victory of the Islamic Revolution, he returned to Tehran, along with Imam Khomeini, and became Head of Department of Political and Social affairs at the Ministry of Interior, thereby assuming the task of holding the April 1979 referendum which resulted in the establishment of the Islamic Republic. He served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1979 to 1980. He was Iran’s Ambassador to West Germany from 1982 until 1986, and after that had served the Islamic Republic as a special envoy on missions abroad. He was a candidate in the 1980 presidential elections, but finished fifth. He was also a possible candidate for the 2009 election which he withdrew in favour of Mohsen Rezaie and later became one of his advisers and campaign members. He was also his deputy manager of campaign in 2013 election and a possible vice president candidate.