Today is Thursday; 14th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 20th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and March 4, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1429 lunar years ago, on this day in 13 AH, the Battle of Yarmouk broke out between the Arab army and the forces of Byzantine or the Eastern Roman Empire, ending six days later in a decisive victory for Muslims. The battle consisted of a series of seesaw engagements near Yarmouk River, along what is today the border between Syria and Jordan, south-east of the Sea of Galilee, 65 km from the Golan Heights. It is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in military history, and it marked the first great wave of Muslim conquests, ending the long sway of the then superpowers – the Romans and the Persians. In order to check the Muslim advance, Emperor Heraclius had entered into an alliance with Emperor Yazdegird III of Sassanid Iran, and sent a massive army made up of Slavs, Greeks, Franks, Georgians, Armenians and Christian Arabs. The Muslim tactic by sending a separate force to Iraq to confront the Sassanids, thwarted this alliance against Islam from taking practical shape. Thus the total defeat of the numerically superior Roman army by the lightly armed Muslims saw the fall of Damascus as well, and a year later led to the liberation of Bayt al-Moqaddas without bloodshed by the Muslims, who also rapidly took over Egypt and Libya. The emergence of Muslims on the world scene came only six years after Heraclius had succeeded in reclaiming Egypt and the Levant from the Persians, in a series of see-saw battles fought for over two decades throughout West Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe, including Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Anatolia, and even before the walls of Constantinople itself. The advent of Islam completely changed the world map with the entire Sassanid Empire and more than half of the whole Roman Empire disappearing forever. An important point to note is that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), who led the Muslims to victory in almost all the battles imposed upon Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) by the Arab and Israelite unbelievers, did not participate in the Roman and Persian campaigns, which were led by the neo Muslim and hitherto pagan Arabs, like Khalid bin Waleed, who were subdued by his flashing scimitar, the "Dhu’l-Feqar”. Two decades later when these same arrogant victors of the wars against the Romans and the Persians, like Zubayr ibn Awam, Amr ibn Aas, Mu’awiyya ibn Abu Sufyan and others, tried to stir up sedition amongst Muslims in Iraq and Syria (the former Sassanid and Byzantine heartlands), Imam Ali (AS) personally assumed command and once again unsheathed the "Dhu’l-Feqar” to decisively defeat them. For instance, Amr ibn Aas, who used to boast of conquering Egypt, ignominiously denuded himself in Siffeen while fleeing, in order to escape certain death at the hands of the Prophet’s righteous heir.
1396 solar years ago, on this day in 625 AD, as per the Gregorian calendar, Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS), the eldest grandson and 2nd Infallible Successor to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), was born in Medina – on the 15th of Ramadhan 3 AH. His name "Hasan”, which means the "Most Excellent” was chosen by the Prophet on the commandment of God and is the Arabic equivalent of "Shabar” the name in Hebrew of the first born son of Aaron, the brother and vicegerent of Prophet Moses (AS). Imam Hasan (AS), along with his younger brother, Imam Husain (AS), was hailed by the Prophet as Twin Leaders of the Youths of Paradise. The two brothers along with their parents, Imam Ali (AS) and Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), were covered by the Prophet under his cloak as the Ahl al-Bayt on revelation of the Verse of Purity (holy Qur’an 33:33), and this immaculate group also accompanied the Prophet to the decisive debate of Mubahela with the Christians of Najran on revelation of ayah 61 of Surah Nisa in order to prove the truth of Islam. Six months after succeeding to the caliphate, following his father’s martyrdom, Imam Hasan (AS), in view of the widespread sedition and hypocrisy in the society, agreed to relinquish political rule to the charlatan Mu’awiya ibn Abu Sufyan in order to unmask him in his true heathen colours. Thus, his prudence and foresight saved Islam from the disaster of civil war, at a time when the Byzantine Empire was waiting for weakening of Muslim ranks to attack and occupy Syria and Bayt al-Moqaddas.
1392 lunar years ago, on this day around 50 AH, Hazrat Sakina (SA), the second daughter of Imam Husain (AS) – the younger grandson and 3rd Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) – was born in Medina. Her mother was Rabab, the daughter of Imru al-Qays, who was the chief of the clan of Bakr bin Wa’el. She was present in Karbala during the tragedy that befell the Prophet’s Household, resulting in the martyrdom of her father, her brothers, cousins, and her uncles, including the valiant standard-bearer, Hazrat Abbas (AS), to whom she was deeply attached. She was betrothed to her cousin, a son of Imam Hasan (AS) and Hazrat Qasem’s (AS) elder brother, who was martyred in Karbala. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Sakina (SA), along with other members of the Ahl al-Bayt, including her two sisters – Hazrat Fatema (SA) and the 4-year-old Hazrat Ruqayya (SA) who attained martyrdom in Damascus – had to suffer imprisonment for a while. Upon return to Medina, she devoted her life to prayer, fasting and worship of God, refusing to marry anyone, saying that no one was worthy of her hand. She was an authority on hadith and the holy Qur’an. She passed away in 117 AH during the imamate of Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) and was laid to rest in the Baqie Cemetery.
869 solar years ago, on this day in 1152 AD, Duke Frederick III of Swabia was elected king of the Germans. In 1155, he became king of Italy as well and was crowned ‘Roman Emperor’ by Pope Adrian IV. Called Barbarossa for his red beard, he was of brutal nature and during the siege of the Italian city of Crema, he barbarically hurtled prisoners, including children at the wall, forcing the city to surrender. The siege was marked by several episodes of brutality against fellow Christians by the Germans, who hung Cremaschi prisoners to siege machines, resulting in bloody manslaughter. Barbarossa, who on the instructions of Pope Urban III had assembled a huge anti-Muslim army of crusaders in alliance with the kings of France and England, and marched overland towards Syria through the Byzantine Empire; miserably drowned in River Saleph (Goksu Nehri) in what is now Turkey. In 1190 AD, he and his horse were struck by divine wrath and swept away to a terrible death that aborted the 3rd European crusade against Muslims. His leaderless army lost heart and fled, while many Christian knights, afraid of the prospect of fighting Muslims, committed suicide.
828 solar years ago, on this day in 1193 AD, Salah od-Din Yusuf bin Ayyub, the first Kurdish sultan of Egypt and Syria, died in Damascus at the age of 56. Born in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, his fame mainly rests on his mobilization of Kurds, Turks, Arabs, Iranians and Egyptians to liberate the Islamic city of Bayt al-Moqaddas from 88 years of occupation by European Crusader invaders. Known in the Western world as Saladin, he rose from obscure origins to serve as assistant to his uncle, Asad od-Din Shirkuh (Persian for Mountain Lion), who was in the service of the Turkic Zengid Dynasty of Syria. Sent to Fatemid Egypt in 1163 with his uncle by Noor od-Din Zengi, he climbed the ranks of the Ismaili Shi’ite government as a result of his military successes against Crusader assaults. When Shirkuh died in 1169, the caliph al-Adeed made the mistake of appointing Salah od-Din vizier. He now began to undermine Fatemid rule and following al-Adeed’s death in 1171 he seized power and abolished the two-and-a-half century rule of the Fatemid caliphate. Salah od-Din savagely persecuted the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt, burned libraries, and imposed the Sunni creed on the Egyptians. In the following years, he led forays against the Crusaders in Palestine, ordered the conquest of Yemen and staved off pro-Fatemid uprisings in Egypt. Soon after the death of his former master, Noor od-Din in 1174, he attacked Syria, took Damascus, forcibly married Zengi’s widow, and by mid-1175 had conquered Hama and Homs. A few years later he seized Aleppo, although he was unable to capture Mosul from the Zengids. Another blot on Salah od-Din’s character was his forcing of his son, Malik az-Zaher, the governor of Aleppo, to kill the famous Iranian Islamic philosopher Shahab od-Din Yahya Sohrewardi – the proponent of the Illuminist Philosophy (al-Hikmat al-Ishraaq).
786 lunar years ago, on this day in 656 AH, the renowned Mu’tazalite Sunni scholar, Izz od-Din Abdul-Hamid ibn Hibbatollah, known as Ibn Abi’l-Hadeed, passed away at the age of 70. Captured by the Mongols during the offensive on Baghdad, he was released upon the mediation by prominent figures. His most important book is a voluminous commentary on the "Nahj al-Balaghah”, the collection of the eloquent sermons, letters and maxims of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the First Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). His famous remarks on the Commander of the Faithful read: "The world cannot quote an example other than that of (Imam) Ali of a first class warrior and a marshal who is also a philosopher, a moralist and a great teacher of religious principles and theology. A study of his life shows that his sword was the only help that Islam received during its early days of struggle in its wars of self-defence. For Islam he was the first and the last line of defence… The other facet of his character is reflected in his sermons, orders, letters and sayings. What high values of morality they teach, what ethics they preach, what intricate problems of Unitarianism they elucidate, how rich they are in philosophy; how they imbibe the spirit of righteousness and teach rulers to become kind, good, benevolent and God-fearing rulers, and subjects to be faithful, sincere and law abiding, how they persuade men to be warriors who can fight only for God, truth and justice, and not mercenaries murdering and plundering for wealth and riches; and how they instruct teachers to teach nothing injurious and harmful to mankind. These are but indisputable proofs of his greatness and spiritual superiority. Has history ever produced a more splendid personality incorporating such variegated characteristics of mind and heart?”
502 solar years ago, on this day in 1519 AD, Hernan Cortes, the notorious Spanish invader and destroyer of the Aztec Amerindian Empire, through deceit and treachery, arrived in Mexico. He took Emperor Cuauhtemoc and several other indigenous nobles as prisoners, forced them to accompany him to Honduras, and while in the Chontal Maya capital of Itzamkanac, treacherously murdered them. He looted the gold and silver of the Aztec people and destroyed flourishing Amerindian cities. Cortes died embittered in Spain at the age of 62.
189 solar years ago, on this day in 1832 AD, French Egyptologist, Jean-Francois Champollion, died at the age of 41. He established scientific methods in archaeology and pioneered in deciphering hieroglyphics. He was fluent in several languages including Latin, Greek, Arabic, Syrian, Chaldean, Hebrew, Persian, and Coptic. He succeeded in deciphering the Rosetta Stone, which is a stone slab unearthed in 1799 at Rosetta, near Alexandria, Egypt, with inscriptions in two languages and three scripts – Egyptian and Greek.
173 solar years ago, on this day in 1848 AD, the uprising of Hungarian freedom-seekers against Austrian domination started. The repressive policies of Austrian Chancellor, Klemens Metternich, led to unrest across the majority of non-German territories of the Austrian Empire, including Hungary. On April 4, 1849, the Hungarians announced independence, but Austria with assistance from Czarist Russia suppressed them and executed their leaders.
164 solar years ago, on this day in 1857 AD, the Treaty of Paris ended the Anglo-Persian War, which the British had imposed on Iran by attacking and occupying Bushehr on the Persian Gulf as well as Khorramshahr, in order to pressure Nasser od-Din Shah Qajar to surrender the city of Herat and its surroundings in Khorasan to their Afghan ally. Herat, the then capital of Khorasan, had been part of Iran from time immemorial till the war broke in 1856 when its rebellious governor declared independence and placed the area under British protection. As per the Treaty of Paris, the weakened government of Iran withdrew from Herat and was forced to drop all claims to this historical Iranian city and most of eastern Khorasan, which is now part of Afghanistan today. The British had launched their sea attacks on Iran from their naval bases in Mumbai by deploying battalions of sepoys (corruption for the Persian word "sipahi” for Indian soldiers), who in February 1856 had been used to overthrow Wajed Ali Shah of the Naishaburi Dynasty of Iranian origin of Awadh in northern India, and would again be mobilized in mid-1857 to crush the uprising of the Indian people against colonial rule and end the Mughal Dynasty of Delhi by exiling to Burma its last ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar.
30 solar years ago, on this day, in 1991 AD Dr. Ali Shafaie of Iran passed away at the age of 59. A philosopher of repute, he was head of Theological Department of Ferdowsi University in holy Mashhad. He authored the book”Science of Philosophy”.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011 AD, Alenush Terian, hailed as "Mother of Iranian Astronomy”, died in Tehran at the age of 91. Born in an ethnic Armenian Christian family in Tehran, her father was a poet who had translated the epic "Shahnameh” from Persian to Armenian. She graduated in 1947 from the University of Tehran, and began her career in the physics laboratory of the university as chief of laboratory operations. She left for France for higher studies and in 1956 obtained her doctorate in Atmospheric Physics from Sorbonne University of Paris. On return to Iran she became Assistant Professor in thermodynamics at University of Tehran. Later she worked in Solar Physics in the then West Germany for a period of four months, and in 1964 became the first female Professor of Physics in Iran. In 1966, Professor Terian became Member of the Geophysics Committee of University of Tehran. In 1969 she was elected chief of the Solar Physics studies at this university and began to work in the Solar Observatory of which she was one of the founders. Professor Terian retired in 1979. Her 90th birthday celebration was attended by a number of Iranian parliamentarians and over 100 Iranian Armenians.