Today is Wednesday; 13th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 19th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and March 3, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1943 solar years ago, on this day in 78 AD, Emperor Kanishka Kadphises, of the Kushan Empire that covered parts of northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and eastern China, on his accession to the throne initiated the Saka Calendar for his entire realm, beginning from March 22 – a day after Nowruz or the Vernal Equinox that marks the New Year in Iran and among the Iranian peoples. After the downfall of Kushans, who spoke an eastern Iranian language, the Sakas of Ujjain continued to use this era. Ancient Indian astronomers (e.g. Varahmihir), historians (e.g. Kalhana) and mathematicians (e.g. Brahmagupta), used the Saka Era in their works. Interestingly the Gurjaras of Bhinmal, the Chalukyas of Badami and Rastrkutas of the Deccan also used the Saka Era, as well as the Gupta Empire for three centuries. In fact, the Saka Era was most widespread over a span of historical times in India and it was one of the main reasons for the Calendar Reform Committee of modern India to opt for the Saka Era as the Indian National Civilian Calendar, which was officially adopted in 1957. The 1st day of Saka Calendar is celebrated as New Year in areas of India’s Maharashtra State as Gudi Padwa, and as Ugadi in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states. The term "Saka” is used in Persian and Sanskrit sources for the Scythians, a large group of Eastern Iranian nomadic tribes on the Eurasian Steppe; part of whom settled in India.
1433 lunar years ago, on this day in 9 AH, the Expedition to Tabouk occurred, when Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) on hearing reports of plans by the Roman Empire to attack Muslims, led a force of 30,000 to Arabia’s frontiers with Syria, but no military engagement took place since the Romans and their Arab Christian allies did not turn up. Tabouk is in present-day northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is the only expedition in which the Prophet did not take along with him his brave cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS). He appointed him as vicegerent in Medina since the presence of Imam Ali (AS) was more important in the capital of Islam, where hypocrites lingered waiting to strike at the roots of Islam. While leaving Medina, the Prophet expressed the famous statement: "The position of Ali to me is like that of Aaron to Moses”, which is a reference to Prophet Moses’ leaving behind Aaron as his deputy amongst the Israelites, during his seclusion on Mount Sinai. An important event during the Tabouk expedition was the unmasking of the plot of the hypocrites from among the companions of the Prophet, when they plotted to assassinate him in a ravine at night. God Almighty, however, sent a streak of lightning that illuminated the sky and stayed for quite a while instead of a brief flash, in order to expose the hypocrites lying in ambush and to identify them to the Prophet’s loyal companions, such as Hudhayfa al-Yamani.
968 lunar years ago, on this day in 474 AH, the Spanish Muslim scholar Abul-Waleed Suleiman ibn Khalaf Maleki passed away in Spain. He was a skilled memorizer and exegete of the Holy Qur’an, as well as a poet. He lectured on theology in Andalusia and thereafter in Mecca and Baghdad. Among his valuable books and treatises, mention can be made of "Tafsir al-Qur’an” and "al-Ishara”.
824 lunar years ago, on this day in 618 AH, Egyptian forces liberated the port city of Damietta after the Crusader invaders of Europe retreated and surrendered the city following their defeat by the Ayyubid sultan, al-Kamel, who thwarted their intended march upon Cairo. The goal of the Fifth Crusade was to seize Egypt and use it as a base for attacking Palestine and Bayt al-Moqaddas.
512 lunar years ago, on this day in 930 AH, Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty of Iran, passed away at the age of 37 after a reign of 24 years, and was succeeding by his young son, Shah Tahmasp I. To Ismail and the Safavids goes the credit of giving Iran its present political, cultural, religious, and national identity, although in terms of geography many of the areas were lost to the aggressors and colonialists by the subsequent dynasties. Ismail was devoted to the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Born in Ardebil to the head of the Safaviyya Sufi order, Shah Haidar, and his wife Martha, the daughter of the Aq Qoyounlu ruler, Uzun Hassan by his Greek wife Theodora – better known as Despina Khatun – he was the direct descendant of the famous mystic, Safi od-Din Ardabeli, and hence traced lineage to the Prophet’s 7th Infallible Heir, Imam Musa Kazem (AS). At the age of 13, Ismail launched his campaign in Erzinjan (presently in Turkey), and with the help of a 7,000 force of Qizl-Bash (literally ‘Red-Heads’ from the colour of their caps) Turkic tribes of Rumlu, Shamlu, Ustajlu, Qajar, Afshar, Zu’l-Qadr, Tekulu, and Varsak, he defeated the Shirvan-Shah, took control of Baku (presently in the Republic of Azerbaijan) and crowned himself as King of Azarbaijan in Tabriz. By 1509, he unified all of Iran, Iraq, the Caucasus, parts of Central Asia, and western Afghanistan, and took the title of Shah of Persia. An adventurous personality, the dynasty founded by him lasted 235 years, reviving Iran’s Islamic glories in science, art, architecture, philosophy, culture, and literature. Hence he wielded spiritual influence outside Iran as well amongst the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt in Iraq, Syria, Anatolia (modern Turkey), the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Deccan Plateau of India. The Timurid prince, Babar, who later founded the Moghal Empire in northern India, regarded Shah Ismail as his suzerain, and so did the Deccan Sultanates of Yusuf Adel Shah of Bijapur and Sultan Qoli Qotb Shah of Golconda. For this reason, the Ottomans and Uzbeks were his mortal enemies, whose political ambitions, he decisively checked despite the setback he suffered in the Battle of Chaldiran against the former. Shah Ismail I was an accomplished poet in both Persian and his native Azeri Turkish, and wrote under the penname of "Khatai”.
446 solar years ago, on this day in 1575 AD, the Battle of Tukaroi was fought in Bengal between the army of the Mughal Emperor, Jalal od-Din Akbar and Sultan Daud Khan. After a seesaw struggle, the Mughals won and Daud Khan was forced to sign a treaty ceding to Akbar Bihar and Bengal as well as what is now Bangladesh, while retaining only the state of Orissa.
331 solar years ago, on this day in 1690 AD, the Maratha ruler, Sambhaji, and his minister, Kavi Kalash, were executed for insulting the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to all mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, who had overlooked the personal insults heaped against him by the two captives when questioned about their rebellious behaviour, massacre of innocent people (both Hindus and Muslims), burning of cities (e.g. Burhanpur), and looting of public properties. Sambhaji, who unlike his father, Sivaji, was a man of cruel disposition given to sensuous pleasures and was imprisoned by the latter for his dissolute traits, escaped from prison on his father’s death in 1680 to seize power of the Maratha realm by imprisoning his stepbrother, Rajaram – Sivaji’s designated successor. For the next 8 years he ravaged and plundered towns and cities, tortured civilians, cruelly killed both Hindus and Muslims, to the extent that the Brahmins in his own service betrayed him to the Mughals. He was captured on December 28, 1688 by the brave former general of the kingdom of Golkandah, Shaikh Nizam Haiderabadi titled Muqarrab Khan, at his pleasure-house at Sangameshwar in the hills. Aurangzeb restored Rajaram as the Maratha ruler.
318 solar years ago, on this day in 1703 AD, the English scientist, architect, and philosopher, Robert Hooke, died at the age of 68. He was well versed in physics and biology, and invented numerous tools. In 1665 he wrote his major work "Micrographia”, in which he drew pictures of minute creatures he saw through microscope. His inventions include the anemometer, aerometer, udometer, and hygrometer. He also made precise wrist watches.
314 solar years ago, on this day in 1707 AD, Aurangzeb Alamgir, the 6th and last of the Grand Mughal Emperors, died in his capital Aurangabad at the age of 89 and was buried in nearby Kholdabad, after a reign of 50 years, during which he expanded the rule of his house to its zenith by conquering the whole of south India. He thus ruled over an empire that today includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the eastern half of Afghanistan. Son of Shah Jahan and the Iranian lady, Arjmand Banu, he was a scholar of Arabic, Persian, and Chaghtai Turkic. He had seized the throne by imprisoning his father and killing his brothers. He also made the fatal mistake of overthrowing the Shi’a Muslim sultanates of Bijapur and Golkandah-Haiderabad in the Deccan, because of his rivalry with the Safavid emperors of Iran, whose names were recited in the Friday Prayer sermons in south India. The vacuum led to the rise of the Maratha, who were to ravage and pillage the tottering Mughal Empire.
222 solar years ago, on this day in 1799 AD, the Russo-Ottoman siege of the island of Corfu ended with the surrender of the French garrison. Earlier, in October 1798 the French were driven from the Ionian islands of Cythera, Zakynthos, Cephalonia, and Lefkada. The capture of Corfu completed the Russo-Turkish takeover of the Mediterranean Islands, which was of great military and political importance. The islands became the Seven Islands Republic, a temporary joint protectorate of Russia and Turkey, whose fleets went on to attack Naples in Italy.
207 lunar years ago, on this day in 1235 AH, prominent Islamic scholar of the Subcontinent, Ayatollah Seyyed Dildar Ali Naqavi Naseerabadi, known as "Ghufraan-Ma’ab”, passed away in Lucknow at the age of 69. Son of Seyyed Mo’in ibn Seyyed Abdul-Hadi, he came from a family of scholars hailing from Naishapur in Khorasan, Iran, which had settled in the village of Naseerabad, in what is now Uttar Pradesh state of India. He completed preliminary studies in India under various scholars, including Gholam Ali Dakani (of Deccan, southern India where the school of the Ahl al-Bayt was the state religion of the Qotb Shahi dynasty of Golconda-Haiderabad for almost two centuries, and which model was later adopted by the Nawabs of Oudh). He then left for the famous seminary of holy Najaf in Iraq, where his teachers included the jurisprudents Shaikh Ja’far Kashef al-Gheta and Wahid Behbahani. The title "Ghufraan-Ma’ab” was bestowed on him by the ulema of holy Najaf, due to his scholarly activities that included writing of books and promoting of Islamic teachings in society. Later, he travelled to holy Mashhad in northeastern Iran for further studies. Initially of Akhbari persuasion, Dildar Ali became a Usuli, and on his return to India, was hailed as a Marja’. He revived the Friday Prayers in Lucknow and wrote prolifically in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. He authored several books including "Imdad al-Islam” on theology, which is a refutation of the allegations of Fakhr od-Din ar-Razi. His detailed work in jurisprudence is "Muntah-il-Afkaar”. His sons were also pious, dedicated scholars and teachers.
182 solar years ago, on this day in 1839 AD, the prominent Indian industrialist of Iranian Zoroastrian origin, Jamshedji Tata was born in Nasvari, Gujarat in western India. He founded the Tata Group, India’s biggest conglomerate company, and is known as the Father of Indian Industry. The Tata Group of companies is among the world’s largest private sector firms. Jamshedpur in Jharkhand is named after him.
174 solar years ago, on this day 1847 AD, Scottish-American inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, was born. His career was influenced by his grandfather (who published "The Practical Elocutionist and Stammering and Other Impediments of Speech”), his father (whose interest was the mechanics and methods of vocal communication) and his mother (who was deaf). As a teenager, he was intrigued by the writings of German physicist Hermann Von Helmholtz, "On the Sensations of Tone”. In 1871, Bell began giving instruction in Visible Speech at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes. This background set his course in developing the transmission of voice over wires. After years of experiments and designs of various apparatuses by different scientists, on 10 March 1876, Bell spoke the famous sentence "Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you”into the liquid transmitter he had invented, while Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.
164 solar years ago, on this day in 1857 AD, the Second Opium War was launched by France and Britain on China. The objectives of the British were legalising the opium trade, expanding coolie trade, opening all of China to British merchants, and exempting foreign imports from internal transit duties.
162 solar years ago, on this day in 1859 AD, one of the most blatant violations of human rights in history occurred in the US, when 436 black men, women, and children were auctioned on a plantation in the state of Georgia to pay the debts incurred in gambling by Pierce Butler during the financial crash of 1857-58. The grim sale of human beings, which took place over two rainy days, is referred to as "The Weeping Time.”
143 solar years ago, on this day in 1878 AD, Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of San Stefano in the Balkans. A year earlier, Russia had entered into secret accord with the Ottoman provinces of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, promising to support them against the Turks. In the wake of Russian victories, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria were detached from the Ottoman Empire and declared independent.
142 solar years ago, on this day in 1879 AD, American biochemist, Elmer McCollum, who originated the letter system of naming vitamins, was born. He discovered vitamins A, B and worked with others on vitamin D. He performed extensive research work in nutrition and growth. In the 1910s, he recognized that a healthy diet required certain fats, and he named the essential component "fat-soluble A,” as distinct from another he named "water-soluble B.” He researched how certain minerals were important as nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, fluorine, manganese and zinc.
97 solar years ago, on this day in 1924 AD, the pro-western laic ruler of Turkey, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, dissolved the dubious institution of the Caliphate, transferring its powers to the Turkish Grand National Assembly. He thus expelled from Turkey Abdul Majid II, who was made caliph in November 1922 following the deposition of his cousin, Sultan Mohammad VI. Abdul Majid II lived in France, where his daughter Princess Durr-e Shahvaar was married in 1931 to Prince Himayat Ali Khan Azam Jah, the son of Asaf Jah Nizam ol-Molk, the last king of Haiderabad Deccan. With the death of Abdul Majid II in 1944 concurrently with the Liberation of Paris from Nazi occupation, the controversial institution of caliphate, which had become the prerogative of tyrants and debauchees, beginning with the Godless Omayyads and the equally evil Abbasids, came to its final disgraceful end. It should be noted that the English word "Caliph” is derived from the Arabic "Khalifa” (Vicegerent), a term which God Almighty uses for Adam in the holy Qur’an. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), as the Last and Final Messenger to mankind, had on God’s commandment, designated his cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as the Khalifa (Caliph) or Vicegerent of Muslims; however, no sooner did the Prophet pass away, the political responsibilities of this office were usurped by certain people, who for 25 years deprived the Imam of his rights. In 35 AH, when the caliphate came begging at his door, Imam Ali (AS), whose spiritual authority was beyond the grasp of any usurper, reluctantly took up the reins of political power, on condition that he would rule only in accordance with the holy Qur’an and the precepts of the Prophet and not the innovations made by the three persons who preceded him in this office. The four-and-a-half year caliphate of Imam Ali (AS) is regarded till this day as the only instance of the rule of social justice. Following the Imam’s martyrdom, the Omayyad rebel Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan seized the caliphate from the Prophet’s elder grandson Imam Hasan (AS), and thereafter this institution was never on the right track and became the most scandalous office in Islamic history.
59 lunar years ago, on this day in 1383 AH, Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Khalesi, known as "Khalesizadeh”, passed away in Baghdad. Parallel to his cultural and religious activities, he struggled against the infiltration and interference of colonialists in Islamic countries and was one of the religious leaders who inspired the people of Iraq in the uprising of the 1920s, which the British brutally crushed, and imposed upon the Iraqi people an unwanted king from the Hijaz, Faisal the son of the British agent, Sharif Hussain of Mecca. Khalesizadeh, along with Ayatollah Sheikh Kashef al-Gheta, was exiled to Iran, while the British martyred through poisoning, Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi. Among the books written by him are: "The Injustices of Britain in Mesopotamia” and "God in the Nature”.
30 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, in Los Angeles white police officers pounced upon Afro-American Rodney King and mercilessly beat him. A local witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of it from his balcony, and sent the footage to news station KTLA. The footage showed five officers surrounding King, several of them striking him repeatedly, while other officers stood by. Part of the footage was aired around the world, inflaming outrage in cities, and raising public concern about police treatment of minorities. The acquittal of the officers sparked a violent riot in several US cities.
29 solar years ago, on this day in 1992 AD, following referendum, Muslim majority Bosnia-Herzegovina, gained independence from the rump state of Yugoslavia, following the declaration of independence earlier by Slovenia and Croatia. Immediately, the local Serbs with the support of Serbia and the tacit backing of western regimes unleashed genocide and ethnic cleansing, resulting in the massacre of over 250,000 European Muslims and homelessness of a million-and-a-half others. When Bosnian Muslims fought back and were about to decisively defeat the Serb aggressors, the US interfered and imposed the Dayton Accord. Bosnia-Herzegovina has an area of 51,129 square km. On the north and west it shares borders with Croatia, on the east with Serbia, and on the south with the Republic of Montenegro. Muslims are the largest ethnic group making up over 50 percent of the total population.
19 solar years ago, on this day in 2002 AD, in Ahmadabad, India, the death toll climbed to 538 as Hindu mobs continued attacks on Muslims.