Today is Tuesday; 5th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 11th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and February 23, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1718 solar years ago, on this day in 303 AD, Roman Emperor Diocletian ordered the destruction of the newly built Christian church in Nicomedia in what is now Turkey, and the burning of all scriptures. Although he resigned two years later and was no longer the Emperor, the persecution of Trinitarian Christians as well as the monotheistic followers of Prophet Jesus (AS), lasted a total of 8 years, ending in 311 with the death of his successor, Galerius, who was also an obstinate pagan. Diocletian, who ruled for 21 years, also ordered the persecution of Manicheans, as a political ploy, compounding religious dissent with international politics, since followers of this creed amongst the Romans were supported by the Sassanid Empire of Iran, which he had managed to defeat with great difficulty in 299 and imposed the humiliating Peace of Nisbis in northern Mesopotamia and Armenia, on Emperor Narseh. Diocletian ordered that the leading followers of Mani be burnt alive along with their scriptures, while low-status Manicheans must be executed by the blade, and high-status Manicheans must be sent to work in the quarries and mines.
1489 solar years ago, on this day in 532 AD, Emperor Justinian I of Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire ordered the building of a new Christian basilica in Constantinople – the Hagia Sophia, which is Greek for "Holy Wisdom” – shortly after concluding the "Eternal Peace” with Khosrow Anushirvan of the Sassanid Empire of Iran at a cost of 11,000 pounds of gold, following Roman defeats in Syria and what is now Turkey by the Persians. From the date its construction finished in 537 until 1453, this majestic building served as seat of the Greek Orthodox Church, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the usurper Latin Empire of the Crusaders. When Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 and renamed it Islambol (Istanbul), it was added with the mihrab (prayer niche), mimbar (pulpit) and four minarets to serve as an imperial mosque until 1931, when Kamal Ataturk changed it into a museum. The Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the Blue Mosque, the Shahzade Mosque, the Suleymaniyeh Mosque, the Rustam Pasha Mosque and the Ali Pasha Mosque. Today Turkish Muslims are calling for restoring this building into the mosque. Justinian I during his 38-year rule conquered the Western Roman Empire also, including North Africa and Spain. He was again involved in a war with Sassanid Persia in Syria and Turkey that lasted 22 years this time, before ending in the "Fifty-Year Peace” at the cost of 500 pounds of gold as annual tribute to the Iranians.
1306 solar years ago, on this day in 715 AD, Walid ibn Abd al-Malik, the 6th self-styled caliph of the usurper Omayyad regime, died in Damascus at the age of 47 after a 10-year reign, during which Arab armies conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the West and penetrated deeper into Central Asia and India, in addition to gaining territory against the Byzantines in Anatolia (modern day Turkey). He gave free rein to the tyrant Hajjaj Thaqafi, his governor of Iraq, to terrorize the people of Khorasan, Sindh and Transoxiana. Walid discouraged the conquered people to become Muslims since this would deprive him of collecting jizya and fill up his coffers. Fearful of the influence of the Persian language in the east and of the Coptic language in Egypt, he forbade the use of any other language except Arabic. In violation of the letter and spirit of the holy Qur’an, he promoted obscene music, singing and dancing. Walid I has earned lasting notoriety for martyring through poison, the Prophet’s great-grandson and 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) – the son of Imam Husain (AS), the Immortal Martyr of Karbala.
1171 lunar years ago, on this day in 271 AH, the lexicographer, and exegete of Holy Qur’an, Mohammad Ibn Qassim al-Anbari was born in Baghdad. He had a powerful and photographic memory and was very modest in teaching. In his book "al-Musahef” he has mentioned the "tawatur” (continuously unbroken chain of narration) of the famous "Hadith Thaqalayn” in which Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) has explicitly stated: "I am leaving behind among you Two Weighty Things; the Book of Allah (Qur’an) and my progeny, the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray, for the two never part with each other even when they return to me at the Fountain (of Kowsar in the Hereafter).” Among his other works, mention can be made of "Adaab al-Kateb”. He passed away in 328 AH.
871 lunar years ago, on this day in 571 AH, the prominent historian and hadith scholar, Hafez Ali ibn al-Hassan ibn Hebatollah, known popularly as Ibn Asaker, was born in Damascus. After mastering Islamic sciences in his hometown, he travelled widely to acquire further knowledge and benefitted from the scientific centers of the cities of Baghdad, Kufa, Mosul, Naishapour, Marv, Isfahan, and Hamedan. He has left behind 134 books, among which mention can be made of the voluminous "Tarikh Madinat ad-Dameshq”. He was follower of the Shafei school of Sunni jurisprudence, and has mentioned at least 400 ayahs of the holy Qur’an revealed by God on the unrivalled merits of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS).
388 solar years ago, on this day in 1633 AD, British naval administrator and Member of Parliament, Samuel Pepys, who is now most famous for the detailed diary of important events he kept for a decade, was born in London. Through hard work and talent for administration, he rose to be Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and subsequently King James II. The detailed private diary Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. It provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of such important events, as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London. Often regarded as the most celebrated diary, it contains over a million words, and the author’s frankness in writing his own weaknesses, has made historians ascertain the accuracy of his record of daily British life and major events in the 17th century. He died in 1703 at the age of 70.
222 solar years ago, on this day in 1799 AD, the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte who had occupied Egypt to prevent it from turning into a British colonial base, attacked the Ottoman province of Shaam (made up of present day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine including the illegal entity called Israel). In response, the Ottoman Sultan declared war on France, and though Napoleon had some initial success, the French forces were forced to withdraw from Shaam because of British and Russian support for the Ottoman Turks.
200 solar years ago, on this day in 1821 AD, English poet, John Keats, died of tuberculosis at the young age of 26 in Rome. Born in London, he was one of the main figures of the second generation of Romantic poets, along with Byron and Percy Shelley. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and most analysed in English literature.
153 solar years ago, on this day in 1868 AD, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, the first African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, was born in Barrington, Massachusetts. As a sociologist, he focused on the problem of race for blacks in the US. He became an influential leader of black Americans, presenting an alternative to Booker T. Washington, whose policies Du Bois considered too conservative and too accommodating to whites. Du Bois, believing that blacks could achieve progress only through protest, encouraged Black Nationalism and supported Pan-Africanism. He founded the National Negro Committee which eventually became the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Du Bois also founded the Niagara Movement, served as the NAACP’s director of research and editor of its magazine Crisis, and taught and published his philosophy at Atlanta University from 1896-1910. In 1961 he renounced his US citizenship and spent his last remaining years in the West African country of Ghana, where he died in Accra, Ghana at the age of 95 in 1963.
135 solar years ago, on this day in 1886 AD, American chemist, Charles Martin Hall, discovered aluminum. Aluminum is a white and light metal. It is very hard and is lighter than iron. It currently has numerous applications in industrial and non-industrial activities.
77 solar years ago, on this day in 1944 AD, Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, ordered the mass deportation of Caucasian Muslim nations. Chechens and Ingush were deported to Kazakhstan for resisting Soviet rule on the allegations of abetting the Germans. Around a million persons were evicted and loaded onto special railway cars. More than a third of the population died on the way. Also deported were the Karachays, Balkars, and Meskhetian Turks. Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, was an avowed enemy of Muslims despite being an atheist.
51 solar years ago, on this day in 1970 AD, Guyana declared itself a republic, following independence from British rule, four years earlier. Guyana was occupied by the Spanish in late 15th century and seized by Britain in the 17th century. Situated in South America with a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, Guyana has a population of 10 percent Muslims, while a slight majority of the national population is made up of Guyanese of Indian origin.
25 solar years ago, on this day in 1996 AD, Ba’thist dictator Saddam had his two defecting sons-in-law killed by their own clansmen after luring them back to Iraq on promises of pardon. Minister of Military Industries Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel al-Majid and his brother former head of the Republican Guards, Saddam Kamel al-Majid, along with their wives – Raghad and Rana – had fled on 7th August 1995 to Jordan, where they disclosed to the CIA and the British MI6, military and chemical weapons secrets. Saddam gave false promises of pardon, but on their return to Iraq on February 20 he ordered them to divorce his daughters, and three days later killed them on charges of treason. The two brothers, as senior members of the repressive Ba’th minority regime, were partners in Saddam’s crimes against the Iraqi people as well as against Iran during the 8-year imposed war. Hussein Kamel al-Majid was in charge of the brutal attack on Karbala in 1991 and the massacre of its people. He openly desecrated the holy shrine of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain (AS), in which he gruesomely hanged countless Iraqi Muslims, boasting all the time that today he was the person in power and the Immortal Martyr of Karbala can do nothing.
Today, 5th of the Iranian month of Esfand is the day for commemoration of the famous Iranian Islamic polymath and theologian, Allamah Mohammad ibn Hassan, known as Khwaja Naseer od-Din Tousi. Born in the city of Tous, near the holy city of Mashhad in Khorasan, he was an outstanding philosopher, scientist, astronomer, mathematician and theologian, who made valuable contributions to the progress of science and civilization. Even the Mongol invaders acknowledged his genius and Hulagu Khan, appointed him as his scientific advisor. Naseer od-Din Tusi built the famous observatory at Maraghah in 1262. It had various instruments such as a 4-meter wall quadrant made from copper and an azimuth quadrant which was his unique invention. Using accurately plotted planetary movements, he modified Ptolemy’s model of the planetary system based on mechanical principles. The observatory and its library became a centre for a wide range of work in science, mathematics and philosophy. About the real essence of the Milky Way, Ṭusi in his book on astronomy "at-Tadhkirah fi Ilm al-Hayyah”, wrote three centuries before Galileo: "The Milky Way, i.e. the galaxy, is made up of a very large number of small, tightly-clustered stars, which, on account of their concentration and smallness, seem to be cloudy patches. Because of this, it was likened to milk in colour.”
He wrote some 80 books in both Arabic and Persian on various subjects including "Tajrid al-Eʿteqad” on theology, "Akhlaq-e Naseri” on ethics, "Sharh al-Isharaat Ibn Sina” on philosophy, and "Kitab ash-Shakl al-Qatta” on mathematics, etc. It is to be noted that a 60-km diameter lunar crater located on the southern hemisphere of the moon is named after him as "Naseereddin”. A minor planet discovered by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1979 is named after him "10269 Tusi”. Naseer od-Din Tusi died in Iraq and was laid to rest in the holy mausoleum of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).