Today is Monday; 18th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1399 solar hijri; corresponding to 24th of the Islamic month of Rajab 1442 lunar hijri; and March 8, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1860 solar years ago, on this day in 161 AD, Marcus Aurelius was declared Roman Emperor and commenced his 19-year rule that saw his generals emerge as victors of the 5-year long war (161-65) against the Parthian Empire of Iran in Armenia and Mesopotamia (Iraq), following initial Iranian victories in Syria and Anatolia (present day Turkey). The Roman success, however, was short-lived, and despite the sacking of the Iranian-controlled Greek city of Seleucia on the western banks of the Tigris and plunder of the Parthian capital, Ctesiphon, on the eastern banks of the same river, the Iranians soon remobilized and reclaimed lost ground, although Armenia was briefly lost. The Parthian Empire was at that time under the long 44-year rule of Balaash, known to the Romans as Vologases IV. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the 5 good emperors in Roman history.
1435 lunar years ago, on this day in 7 AH, the impregnable fortress of Qamous in the vast tract of Khaybar, 150 km north of Medina on the road to Syria, was single-handedly captured by the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), who after overcoming in personal combat the fearsome Israelite warlord, Marhab, pulled from its hinges the huge gateway that several Jewish strongmen used to open and close. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had to undertake the campaign on learning of the plots and seditions of the ever-rebellious Israelites, who in violation of the accords were contemplating military measures, including raid on Medina, in addition to their funding of pagan Arab tribes to attack Muslims from time to time. The Prophet’s sudden arrival on the scene with some 1,500-odd Muslims caught the estimated 10,000 armed Israelite force off guard, and forced the leaders of various Jewish tribes to agree to pay tribute. Of the forts that resisted, the Muslims forced almost all of them to surrender after several weeks of siege. The principal Israelite fortress of Qamous, however, not just continued to hold out but its defenders drove away with losses the expeditions led by the Prophet’s companions. At last the Prophet said he would be giving the command tomorrow to the person "who loves God and the Prophet and is in turn loved by God and the Prophet; an intrepid attacker (Karrar) who never retreats (Ghayra Farrar).” On the morning the Prophet invoked the famous phrase "Nad-e Aliyyan Mazhar al-Aja’eb” (Call Ali the Manifestation of Wonders). His dear cousin and son-in-law, who because of eye inflammation was not participating in the campaign was brought before him. The Prophet applied his saliva to his eyes, which were miraculously cured. The rest is history, and the Prophet gave fair terms to the Jews after surrender, allowing them to live in peace. It is worth noting that before this campaign the Prophet had received the vast orchard of Fadak as a personal gift without the involvement of Muslims, arms, and hostilities. On God’s command he gave Fadak to his daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), who used to spend its income for the poor and needy, until it was seized from her by the first and second self-styled caliphs.
1341 lunar years ago, on this day in 101 AH, the Omayyad ruler, Omar bin Abdul-Aziz, died due to poisoning of his food after a reign of three years during which he renounced the oppressive and un-Islamic policies of his predecessors. One of his first acts on becoming caliph was to issue a decree to halt the blasphemous cursing of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), during Friday prayer sermons – a sacrilegious practice begun by the hardcore heathen, Mu’awiyya ibn Abu Sufyan, who through such acts intended to keep the growing neo Muslim population ignorant of the God-given right to rule of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWA) rightful successor. Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz next returned to the Ahl al-Bayt the large tract of Fadak whose income had now swelled to 40,000 dinars, since this was the property of the Prophet’s daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA) from whom the first and second self-styled caliphs had illegally seized. He is also credited with various other reforms like abolition of drinking, forbidding public nudity, and elimination of mixed bathrooms for men and women, which the Godless Omayyad caliphs had initiated. He was succeeded by the ungodly Yazid bin Abdul-Malik, who immediately reversed the policies of his predecessor and again seized Fadak.
1103 lunar years ago, on this day in 339 AH, the famous Islamic scientist and philosopher, Abu Nasr Mohammad al-Farabi, passed away at the age of 82 in Aleppo, Syria, where he was a luminary at the court of Amir Saif od-Dowla. Born in an Iranian family in Farab, beside the River Jaxartes in Central Asia, after preliminary education he set out for the then centre of the Islamic world, Baghdad, where he studied philosophy, especially Aristotle’s peripatetic philosophy under the Christian scholar, Yuhanna bin Haylan. Farabi mastered Greek language and wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s works. In view of this, he was acclaimed as "Mo’allem ath-Thani” (Second Teacher), while Aristotle was "Mo’allem al-Awwal” (First Teacher). Farabi’s school of philosophy breaks from Plato and Aristotle and moves from metaphysics to methodology, a move that anticipates modernity. As a follower of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), he discovered the limits of human knowledge, compared to divinely-revealed wisdom. He says in the preface of his work "Ehsa al-Oloum” that his most important goal in writing this book is to present a list of the various branches of sciences of his era and cognize the main and secondary elements of each particular branch of knowledge. He strove to prove that there is no contradiction between rationalistic philosophy and Islam. He is thus regarded as founder of Islamic political science. Farabi’s most important views are raised in his books like "Kitab as-Siyasah” (Book of Politics), and "as-Siyasat al-Madaniyah” (Civics). He viewed religion as a symbolic rendering of the Ultimate Truth, and, like Plato, saw it as the duty of the philosopher to provide guidance to the state. He, however, differed from the Platonic view and said the "Medinat-al-Fazela” or Perfect State is the one that is ruled by the Prophet or the divinely-appointed Imam, instead of the philosopher-king envisaged by Plato. He pointed out that the "Perfectly Ideal State” was founded in Medina by Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), who was in direct communion with God. In his excellent book "Mabadi Ara al-Ahl al-Madinat al-Fazelah” (Basis of Views of the People of the Perfect State), he says the ideal government strives to heal the souls of the people, establishes justice and guides them towards "true happiness”. He classifies as "vicious”, the societies that have fallen short of the ideal of the "Perfect State”, and divides them into three categories – ignorant, wicked and errant. He uses the term "Madinat az-Zallah” (Vicious Society), saying that ignorant societies have, for whatever reason, failed to comprehend the purpose of human existence, and have supplanted the pursuit of happiness for another (inferior) goal, whether this be wealth, sensual gratification, or power. It is interesting to note that modern western democratic societies also fall into this category, as they too lack any guiding principle. According to Farabi, the second and third categories of vicious societies, that is the wicked and the errant, have understood the true human end, but they have failed to follow it; the former because it has willfully abandoned it, and the latter because its leaders have deceived and misguided them. This great Muslim philosopher was an expert in other branches of sciences like logic, sociology, mathematics, cosmology, alchemy, psychology, education, and music. He wrote around 70 books.
1011 solar years ago, on this day in 1010 AD, Iranian poet, Abu’l-Qassem Mansour ibn Hassan, famous by his penname "Ferdowsi”, completed his masterpiece "Shahnameh” (Book of Kings) that records in verse, Iran’s history, and till this day is considered a world famous epic.
946 solar years ago, on this day in 1075 AD, Iranian Sunni Muslim exegete of the holy Qur’an, narrator of hadith, and linguist, Abu’l-Qasim Mohammad Ibn Omar Zamakhshari, was born in Zamakhshar, in the historical Iranian land of Khwarezm – divided today between the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. He studied in Samarqand and Bukhara, and later lived in Baghdad for some years. He followed the rationalistic Mu’tazali doctrine and was known as "Jarallah” (Neighbour of God), since he stayed for several years in the city of Mecca, spending his time at the holy Ka’ba, the symbolic House of God Almighty. In his works, he acknowledged the merits and peerless position of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt. He wrote both in Persian and Arabic, and is best known for "al-Kashshaaf”, a commentary on the holy Qur’an, which is famous for its deep linguistic analysis of the ayahs. Another of his famous books is "Rabi al-Abraar”, a voluminous reference work.
618 solar years ago, on this day in 1403 AD, the 4th Ottoman sultan, Bayezid I, died in captivity in Samarqand at the age of 43, some eight months after his defeat and capture in the Battle of Ankara by the Central Asian Turkic conqueror, Amir Timur, after a reign of 14 years during which he conquered most of southwestern Europe – Greece including Thrace (except the Byzantine capital Constantinople), Macedonia, Bulgaria, and parts of Serbia. An impetuous warrior, who succeeded to the Ottoman Throne at the Battle of Kosovo in the Balkans in1389 on assassination of his victorious father, Murad I, by strangling to death his brother Yaqoub, he acquired the title "Yildrim” (lightning) during his campaign against fellow Turks and Muslims, the Karamanids, in the east. Bayezid’s forcible expansion into Muslim territories in Anatolia endangered Ottoman relationship with the ghazis, who were an important source of warriors for his dynasty on the European frontier, so he began the practice to secure fatwas (legal rulings) from court mullahs to justify wars against fellow Muslim states. At the same time, he laid siege to Constantinople in 1394, making the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus appeal for a crusade against Muslims by King Sigismund of Hungary (the future Holy Roman Emperor), whom he defeated in the Battle of Nicopolis. In 1402, Bayezid was forced to lift the siege of Constantinople, when Timur appeared in the east and succeeded in rousing the Anatolian Turkic principalities to join him against the Ottomans. The Battle of Ankara that followed – the only instance when an Ottoman sultan has been captured in person – was culmination of years of insulting letters exchanged between the two powerful rulers. Although the victorious Timur appointed his captive’s third son, Mohammad as sultan, civil war raged for eleven years among Bayezid’s five sons – Eisa, Suleyman, Mohammad, Musa and Mustafa, each claiming the throne for himself – until the Battle of Jamurlu on 5 July 1413, when Mohammad emerged as victor and crowned himself sultan.
304 solar years ago, on this day in 1717 AD, Abraham Darby who played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, died in Britain. He developed a method of smelting ore with coke in a blast furnace, instead of using charcoal. This was a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution.
299 solar years ago, on this day in 1722 AD, after two centuries and two decades of glorious rule, which bestowed Iran national unity, religious identity, territorial integrity, and cultural affinity, the Safavid Empire was dealt a serious blow by Hotaki Ghilzai rebels from Qandahar, in what is now Afghanistan, in the Battle of Gulnabad that led to the capture of the imperial capital Isfahan. For seven years, the occupiers, (Mahmoud and after him his cousin, Ashraf), plunged the country into anarchy, cold-bloodedly murdered the last Safavid king, Shah Sultan Hussain, and terrorized the people, until they were driven out from Iran by the general Tahmasp Quli, who soundly defeated them in the Battle of Damghan in 1729 and later usurped the throne by taking the title of Nader Shah.
285 solar years ago, on this day in 1736 AD, Safavid general, Tahmasp Quli, who rose to rescue Iran from the anarchy by driving out the Hotaki Ghilzai occupiers, crowned himself as Nader Shah – of the short-lived Afsharid dynasty. He conducted many successful campaigns, by reclaiming Iranian territories in the Caucasus, in Iraq, in Central Asia, on the southern Arab side of the Persian Gulf and in what is now Afghanistan. He also attacked the Moghal Empire of India, where the fleeing Ghilzai rebels had sought refuge, took Delhi, and returned to Iran with rich booty, including the famous Peacock Throne, the Koh-e Noor Diamond, and the Tent of Pearls.
239 solar years ago, on this day in 1782 AD, the Gnadenhütten massacre took place in the US, when 96 native Amerindians in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, who had converted to Christianity were cold bloodedly killed by American revolutionaries of Pennsylvania militiamen, on the pretext of retaliation for raids carried out by other Amerindians.
230 lunar years ago, on this day in 1212 AH, the great Gnostic scholar, Seyyed Mohammad Mahdi Tabatabaie, famous as Bahr al-Uloum (Ocean of Knowledge), passed away at the age of 57 in holy Najaf and was laid to rest beside the tomb of the famous Founder of the Najaf Seminary, Abu Ja’far Shaikh at-Ta’efa Tusi. Born in the holy city of Karbala, in Iraq, in a family related to the celebrated Allamah Majlisi of Iran, he studied in his hometown, Karbala, under his scholarly father Seyyed Morteza ibn Mohammad Boroujerdi and later under Shaikh Yousuf Bahrani (author of the book "Hada’eq an-Nasera”). He then moved to famous Islamic Seminary of holy Najaf, where he attained Ijtihad. At the age of 31, he came to Mashhad in Khorasan where he stayed for seven years, learning different sciences, as well as philosophy from Mirza Mahdi Shaheed Khorasani. His teacher, because of his extensive knowledge, called him "Baḥr al-Uloum” His sons, grandsons, and direct descendants in Iran and Iraq have continued to use this title as family name. He returned to Najaf to teach, and on the passing away of his teacher, Waheed Behbahani, he became Marja’ (Source of Emulation). He did not confine himself to academic circles, but was also fully involved in social affairs, and strove to resolve the problems facing the people. He was fully proficient in jurisprudence, Hadith, theology, exegesis of the holy Qur’an and the science of transmitters. On his authority, in view of his contacts with the Lord of the Age, Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance), the exact spots in the Grand Mosque of Kufa and the Sahla Mosque, associated with the Prophets and the Imams, were determined. He groomed a large number of students such as: Seyyed Sadr od-Din Ameli, Shaikh Ja’far Najafi, Seyyed Jawad Ameli, Shaikh Abu Ali Haeri, Mulla Ahmad Naraqi, Seyyed Muhammad Mojahed, Seyyed Abu’l-Qasem Khwansari, Seyyed Dildar Ali Lakhnavi (of India). He wrote several books, including "al-Masabih” on jurisprudence, "ad-Durrah an-Najafiyyah”, "Mishkat al-Hedayah” and "Tuhfat- al-Keraam” on history of Mecca and Masjid al-Haraam (Great Sacred Mosque), besides a Collection of poems on the merits of the Infallible Imams of the Household of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
220 solar years ago, on this day in 1801 AD, during the War of the Second Coalition, at the Battle of Abuqir, near Alexandria, a British force under Ralph Abercromby landed in Egypt with the aim of driving out Napoleon Bonaparte’s 21,000 French forces from Egypt and Syria. General Friant and his 2000 French troops, placing themselves in high positions took a heavy toll of the disembarking British, who then rushed in great numbers from the beach to overwhelm the defenders with fixed bayonets and secured the position. The skirmish, which was a prelude to the Battle of Alexandria, resulted in British losses of 130 killed and 600 wounded or missing. The French withdrew losing at least 300 dead.
104 solar years ago, on this day in 1917 AD, Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich Count von Zeppelin, the German inventor, engineer and manufacturer who was the aviation pioneer that built the first rigid dirigible airships, named Zeppelins, died at the age of 78. After retiring from a military career in 1890, he devoted ten years to the designing and building of his first successful light aircraft, the LZ-1. He patented his idea on 31st August 1895 and formed a company to build airships in 1898. Many thought his invention incredible, and called him "Foolish Count.” His first airship took off on 2nd July 1900 at Lake Constance. Eventually, he produced more zeppelins, which were first flown commercially in 1910 by Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG), the world’s first airline in revenue service. During World War I, he produced more than 100 Zeppelins for military uses, including the bombing of Britain. After the war, he continued to improve the design and built a fleet of airships for commercial passenger service, which included transatlantic flights. Zeppelin use ended after the 6 May 1937 Hindenburg fire disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, USA.
99 solar years ago, on this day in 1922 AD, Reza Khan Mirpanj, a year after his coup with British-backing to install himself as war minister and commander-in-chief of the army of the tottering Qajar dynasty of Iran, ordered closure of all widely circulated newspapers, for their criticism of his high-handed policies. The editors who refused to heed his orders were arrested by his Cossack troops and humiliated. Many sought asylum in the shrine of Seyyed Shah Abdul-Azim al-Hassani in Rayy, south of Tehran, while others went to the Russian embassy to put pressure upon him. Despite promises of freedom of press, Reza Khan did not keep his word, and continued his repressive policies against the nation, resulting in his seizure of the Peacock Throne in 1925 and declaring himself as king of the new Pahlavi dynasty with British backing.
36 solar years ago, on this day in 1985 AD, the execution of ten religious scholars of the family of the Late Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin al-Hakeem by the repressive Ba’th minority regime, after years of imprisonment, shocked the world, and made the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA) issue a strongly-worded statement denouncing the latest crime against humanity of Saddam. The Imam also questioned the silence of world bodies and claimants of human rights and democracy.
36 solar years ago, on this day in 1985 AD, a failed assassination attempt in Beirut against Lebanon’s leading religious scholar, Allamah Seyyed Mohammad Hussain Fazlollah, killed at least 45 innocent persons and injured 175 others. The US was behind this assassination attempt which was masterminded for the CIA by Robert Gates, who later served as US War Secretary.
10 solar year ago, on this day in 2011 AD, the Iranian bibliographer and Iranologist, Dr. Iraj Afshar, passed away at the age of 86. Born in the central city of Yazd, he studied law at Tehran University. His PhD thesis was on "Minorities in Iran”. In 1952, he launched the cultural magazine "Farhang-e Iran Zamin”. In addition to lecturing, he carried out extensive research on Iranology and bibliography, as is evident by his writing of at least 2000 articles. He also published 300 books on Iran’s culture, history, and literature.
9 solar years ago, on this day in 2012 AD, Simin Daneshvar, the wife of the famous Iranian writer, Jalal Aal-e Ahmad, died at the age of 91 years in Tehran. She was an academic, novelist, fiction writer and translator, largely regarded as the first major Iranian woman novelist. In 1948, her collection of Persian short stories was the first by an Iranian woman to be published. "Daneshvar’s Playhouse”, a collection of five stories and two autobiographical pieces, is the first volume of translated stories by an Iranian woman author. Her husband Jalal Aal-e Ahmad had a profound influence on her writing, and she wrote the book "The Dawn of Jalal” in memory of her husband, the author of the famous book "Gharbzadegi” (Westoxication). Daneshvar was also a very good translator, and of her translations mention could be made of "The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov and "The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.