Today is Thursday; 15th of the Iranian month of Farvardin 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 21st of the Islamic month of Sha’ban 1442 lunar hijri; and April 4, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1833 solar years ago, on this day in 188 AD, the treacherous and bloodthirsty Roman Emperor, Caracalla, was born in what is now Lyon in France. Of mixed Punic and Syrian descent, he was named Lucius Septimius Bassianus on his birth to Emperor Septimius Severus – a ruthless pagan, who after his bloodied seizure of the Roman throne, persecuted monotheists, especially the followers of Prophet Jesus (PuH), and waged war against Iran’s Parthian Empire in Iraq. Of mean character, on the death of his father in what is now York in Britain, Caracalla was proclaimed joint emperor with his brother, Publius Septimius Antoninus Geta, whom he soon treacherously slew in front of his pleading mother. The historian Edward Gibbon in his book "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, calls Caracalla "the common enemy of mankind”. Caracalla was assassinated after a 6-year reign by his guards while urinating at a roadside in Edessa in northern Mesopotamia (presently in Turkey), a year after he tricked the Iranians into believing that he was sincere in his peace and marriage proposal to the daughter of Parthian Emperor, Artabanus V (Ardavan in Persian), but then had the bride and guests massacred at the wedding celebrations at the royal palace in Arabela or present day Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. A contemporary account of Caracalla’s massacre of the Iranians says that a huge gathering had stood about casually, eager to see the bridegroom and expecting nothing out of the ordinary. Then the signal was given by the Roman emperor to his army to attack and massacre all. Totally astounded at this onslaught the people fled – wounded and bleeding. Artabanus managed to escape with a few companions, while the rest of the Parthians, lacking their indispensable horses, were cut down – for they had sent the horses out to graze. The Roman army then carried out a campaign of massacres in northern Mesopotamia and around Media, where Caracalla dug open the royal tombs of the Parthians, and scattered their bones. The Iranians, however, soon regrouped and fought the Romans to a bloody standstill at the Battle of Nisibis (in today’s southeastern Turkey), making them pay war reparations of 200 million sestertii.
1053 solar years ago, on this day in 968 AD, famous Arabic poet, statesman, and warrior, Harres bin Sa’eed, known as Abu Firas al-Hamdani, was killed in a battle in Sadad, 60 km south of Homs in Syria at the age of 36. He was a cousin and brother-in-law of the Hamdanid ruler of Aleppo and northern Syria, Sayf od-Dowlah, and was one of commanders in the campaigns against the Byzantine Empire. Like the rest of the Hamdanids, he was a devotee of the Ahl al-Bayt, and wrote his odes describing the injustices committed by the caliphs against the progeny of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The reputation of Abu Firas owes much to his personal qualities. Handsome in person, of noble family, brave, generous, and extolled by his contemporaries as "excelling in every virtue”, he lived up to the Islamic ideal of chivalry which he expressed in his poetry. His poems are popular till this day, especially the "ar-Roumiyaat”, written during his 4-year captivity by the Byzantines before he was freed through ransom. After his death, his diwan was edited with a commentary (largely from the poet himself) by his tutor, the famous Iranian grammarian of Arabic, Ibn Khalawaiyh, who lived in Syria at the Hamdanid court.
936 lunar years ago, on this day in 506 AH, Iranian Sunni Muslim hadith scholar, historian and genealogist, Abdul-Karim Ibn Mohammad as-Sam’ani, was born in the Khorasani city of Marv, which is currently in the Republic of Turkmenistan. After basic Islamic studies in Naishapur, he travelled widely throughout Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hejaz, and Transoxiana to acquire more knowledge. His most important book is "al-Ansaab” on the genealogy of the notables. He has also left behind other valuable books such as "Mujam ash-Shuyoukh” and "Tarikh-e Marv” (History of Marv).
737 solar years ago, on this day in 1284 AD, Alfonso X of Castile died at the age of 63. Born in the occupied Islamic city of Toledo in Spain, he had succeeded his father, Ferdinand III, to the throne in 1252. During his 32-year rule, though he was successful against Portugal and managed to occupy the Muslim regions of Murcia and Cadiz, he suffered shattering defeats at the hands of Spanish Muslims when he tried to invade the Nasrid emirate of Granada. Twice his armies were defeated, especially in 1275 in the Battle of Ecija, in which he lost his sons. The important work undertaken by him was the study and translation of Arabic scientific books into the Castilian and Latin languages, in order to acquire knowledge from Muslims and break out from the dark ages into which the Christian Church had plunged Europe.
476 lunar years ago, on this day in 966 AH, Prince Bayazid lost the Battle of Konya against the forces of his father, Sultan Sulaiman, the 10th Ottoman Emperor and 2nd self-styled Turkish caliph, and sought refuge in Iran at the court of Shah Tahmasp I in Qazvin, roughly the same time when the Safavid Emperor was hosting another royal dignitary as refugee – the Mughal Emperor Humayun Shah who had been ousted from India by the Afghan rebel, Sher Shah Suri. Eventually, Humayun, through Iranian support, regained the throne of Delhi, but when Shah Tahmasp tried to patch up the differences between the Ottoman Sultan and his son, by persuading Bayazid to return, the latter along with his four sons, was cruelly killed by Sulaiman the so-called ‘Magnificent’ and self-styled caliph, who years earlier had killed his eldest son, Prince Mustafa on mere suspicion.
404 solar years ago, on this day in 1617 AD, Scottish mathematician and occultist writer, John Napier, who originated the concept of logarithms as a mathematical device to aid in calculations, died at the age of 67.
116 solar years ago, on this day in 1905 AD, a 7.8 degree earthquake devastated the Kangra Valley in what is now Himachal Pradesh States in northern India, killing 20,000 people and destroying some 100,000 buildings in Kangra, McLeod-Ganj and Dharamshala. Some 53,000 domestic animals were lost. There was major damage to the network of hillside aqueducts that fed water to the affected area.
102 solar years ago, on this day in 1919 AD, Portuguese boy, Francisco Marto, who along with two other rural children had claimed to have seen the apparition of a ‘Radiantly Virtuous Veiled Lady’ with a rosary in her hand outside the village of Fatima in Portugal, reportedly died at the age of 11. The apparition is known as "Our Lady of Fatima” and "Our Lady of the Rosary”. Francisco, his sister Jacinta and cousin, Lucia Santos, spoke of seeing a lady "more radiant than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the rays of the sun.” The three were jailed by the local Christian authorities and threatened with painful death. They were reportedly released, although it cannot be confirmed whether or not they were the same children. Within a year of Francisco’s death, his sister Jacinta also died, while Lucia Santos was confined to convents as a nun until she died in 2005 at the age of 97. The Vatican acted as her spokesman by releasing what it called the "Three Secrets of Fatima”, though scholars suspect deliberate distortion of the whole event, and what was actually predicted or told to the children. First and foremost, nowhere in Christian texts has the Virgin Mary ever been called Fatima, or was associated with the rosary. As researchers point out, the name of the town in Portugal, "Fatima” is Arabic, and it was founded by the Muslim rulers of the Iberian Peninsula. The name "Fatema” is popular and venerated among Muslims because of it being the name of the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, who is called "az-Zahra” (the Most Radiant). Another interesting fact that scholars note is the association of the Prophet’s daughter with the rosary or prayer beads, which she first made out of clay, and which subsequently became famous as "Tasbih Fatema” when her father taught her the glorification of the Lord Most High on the prayer beads. Hence Hazrat Fatema (peace upon her) is known as the "Lady of the Rosary”. The most important factor to note is that in 1571 AD, Pope Pius V held a feast of what he called "Our Lady of Victory” in honour of the Virgin Mary, after the Christians had managed to hold back Turkish Muslim armies from overrunning Western Europe; but in the subsequent years, following fresh Turkish victories, Pope Gregory XIII changed the name of the feast to "Our Lady of Rosary” since victory was not possible against the Turks. It is not known what prompted the Pope to associate the word "Rosary” with Mary, or whether it was part of Catholic propaganda to counter the trend among the growing number of Muslims in southeastern Europe to recite the Rosary of Hazrat Fatema (peace upon her). Thus, the most likely answer for the apparition that the three children saw was of the Prophet’s daughter – perhaps prophesying the conversion of Europe to Islam in the future.
77 solar years ago, on this day in 1944 AD during World War II, the first bombardment of the Hungarian capital Budapest by Anglo-American forces left over 3000 civilians dead and destroyed the city’s infrastructure. On the pretext of targeting German forces, the British and the Americans savagely killed unguarded Hungarian men, women and children, is their blatant crime against humanity.
76 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD during World War II, the Soviet Army took control of Hungary from the retreating German Nazi forces, thereby saving the people from a possible general massacre by the Allied US-British forces. In 1947, Hungary opted for the communist system of government, which lasted till 1989.
72 solar years ago, on this day in 1949 AD, a pact was signed by member states of the Treaty of Brussels i.e. Belgium, France, Luxemburg, Holland, and Britain, along with Italy, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, and Canada and the US, resulting in the setting up of the military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). A product of the Cold War era to check the spread of communism and Soviet influence in Europe and the West, its charter stipulated that an attack on any member state would be treated as an attack on all, thereby warranting collective military action. Later, after the USSR and its East European Allies –East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia – set up the Warsaw Pact in response to the West’s military threat, West Germany, Greece, Turkey and Spain joined NATO. In 1960, US domineering policies made France briefly pull out its forces from the NATO Command Unit. With the collapse of East Europe’s socialist republics in 1989 and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, which meant NATO had no justification to exist. However, in violation of all international norms, NATO has not only expanded to include new members, but has illegally been involved in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, the bombing of Kosovo and the overthrow of Libya’s Mo’ammar Qadhafi regime.
61 solar years ago, on this day in 1960 AD, France agreed to grant independence to the Mali Federation, formed on this date a year before as a union of Senegal and the French Sudan, which is now the Republic of Mali. The two countries, along with other West African lands were part of the Muslim Empire of Mali, which was gradually encroached upon by invaders from Europe, starting with the Portuguese and ending in 19th century with the French who looted the natural and human resources of this area. With the weakening of France during World War II, independence was finally granted on June 20, 1960. Shortly afterwards on 20 August 1960, the federation collapsed, when Senegal withdrew. Landlocked Mali and Senegal – which has a large coastline on the Atlantic Ocean – are two separate independent sovereign states in West Africa, and both predominantly Muslim.
53 solar years ago, on this day in 1968 AD, Martin Luther King the Afro-American leader of the movement against racial discrimination, was assassinated at the age of 39 by a gunman at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee, exactly a year after he delivered his "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech in New York City’s Riverside Church. He was resented by the White supremacists including the US government. A certain James Earl Ray was framed up as his assassin and sentenced to 99 years in jail, but soon mysteriously died in prison, thereby closing the case. According to evidence, the notorious US spying agency, CIA, was behind his murder. Active against racial discrimination, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for defence of Afro-Americans.
42 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, President and later Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfeqar Ali Bhutto, was executed by coup leader, General Zia ul-Haq, who ironically had been promoted as chief of staff of the armed forces over senior officers by Bhutto. Zia soon turned against his benefactor and ousted him in a coup in 1977. He accused Bhutto of murder and hanged him after trial in a kangaroo court. Zia was a US agent and inflicted irreparable harm on Pakistan through his pro-Saudi policies that led to emergence of Salafi terrorist groups, who have wrecked the harmony and stability of the country. Bhutto, a member of a reputed Sindhi family of undivided India, was founder of the Pakistan People’s Party and was elected president in 1971, following war with India that saw East Pakistan secede as Bangladesh, a new country.
23 solar years ago, on this day in 1998 AD, acclaimed Iranian author and translator, Ahmad Aram, passed away at the age of 94. He studied medicine and conducted researches in philosophy, history, Qur’anic sciences, and mathematics. Fluent in Persian, French, Arabic, and English, he spent a lifetime, writing, compiling and translating 140 books and 60 scientific articles.