Today is Monday; 16th of the Iranian month of Farvardin 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 22nd of the Islamic month of Sha’ban 1442 lunar hijri; and April 5, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1119 solar years ago, on this day in 902 AD, Ahmad al-Mu’tadid, the 16th self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, died in Baghdad at the age of 47 after a reign of 10 years. He had seized the caliphate on the death of his uncle al-Mu’tamid during whose last days he had imprisoned and killed his cousin, the heir apparent, Ja’far al-Muwaffadh. Born to Dirar, a Greek concubine of the caliph al-Mutawakkel’s son Talha al-Muwaffaq – the regent and virtual ruler of the state during the reign of al-Mu’tamid – he tried to prevent through deceit and bloodshed the further fragmentation of the fast shrinking Abbasid realm, but failed. He moved the capital back to Baghdad from Samarra and ruled with the help of the powerful Turkic guards – the caliph-makers. He built a series of secret prisons to detain thousands of people on suspicion. He is believed to have been poisoned to death, and during his last moments kicked to death one of the physicians attending him.
854 lunar years ago, on this day in 588 AH, the Kurdish ruler of Syria and Egypt, Salah od-Din Ayyoubi and England’s King Richard I concluded the "ar-Ramla Accord” after the third Crusade failed in retaking the Islamic city of Bayt al-Moqaddas, which the European invaders called Jerusalem. It was agreed that Christian pilgrims could visit Bayt al-Moqaddas in security and safety.
717 lunar years ago, on this day in 725 AH, the virtuous Syrian poet and calligrapher Abus-Sana Shehab od-Din Mahmoud al-Halabi ad-Dameshqi, passed away at the age of 81 in his hometown Damascus and was laid to rest in the foothills of the Qasiyoun mountain. He was an authority on the scholars and poets of the past and has left behind several works, mostly in the form of manuscripts.
669 lunar years ago, on this day in 773 AH, the hadith scholar, poet, and historian, Shahab od-Din Ahmad ibn Ali ibn Mohammad Ibn Hajar Asqalani, was born in Cairo. He memorized the Holy Qur’an at the age of ten and thereafter traveled to different lands to acquire knowledge and sciences. A prolific writer, he compiled some 150 books and treatises on various topics including the God-given merits of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He died in 852 AH and his funeral was attended by an estimated 50,000 people including the Sultan.
641 lunar years ago, on this day in 801 AH, Malik Ahmad Raja Faruqi, the founder of the Khandesh Sultanate of Central India, died after a 17-year reign. On separation of the Deccan or southern India, he had cast his lot with Ala od-Din Hassan Bahman Shah, the general of Iranian stock who founded the Bahmani Dynasty, but a few years later turned against his son, Mohammad Shah Bahmani, by joining the abortive rebellion of the governor of Daulatabad, Bahram Khan Mazandarani. As a result, he fled the Deccan and settled in Thalner, which was conferred upon him as fiefdom by Sultan Ferouz Shah Tughlaq of Hindustan or the northern subcontinent. He soon defeated the Raja of Baglana and subdued the neighbouring chieftains, prompting Ferouz Shah to raise him to the rank of Sipah-Salar or Commander-in-Chief. Within a few years he mustered a strong force and virtually became independent. The Sultanate was a Persianate society, and made rich contribution to Persian literature, art and architecture. Islam was also promoted through peaceful means, as is evident today by the large number of Tadvi Bhils, and Raj Gonds, who are Muslims.
540 solar years ago, on this day in 1481 AD, Mahmoud Gawan, the able Grand Vizier of the Bahmani kingdom of Iranian origin of the Deccan in south India, was unjustly executed at the age of 71 by Mohammad Shah II, after being falsely accused of treason by his rivals at the court. Born in the Caspian Sea region of Gilan in northern Iran, Mahmoud Gawan was a man of letters and a successful merchant plying the lucrative route from the Persian Gulf port of Gombroun (presently Bandar Abbas) to the Konkan coast of India with cargos of silken fabrics, pearls, Arabian horses, etc., for the Bahmani capital of Bidar – where Persian culture was prevalent and where earlier Iranian immigrants were settled. On one such visit at the age of 42, he was given the title of "Malik-ut-Tujjar” (King of Traders) by Feroze Shah and offered a post at the court. He stayed in the Bahmani kingdom, and in the reigns of the subsequent kings, steadily rose in the administrative hierarchy due to his efficient management. He earned the titles "Wakeel us-Saltanah” and "Khwaja-e Jahan” or Prime Minister – a post that he held for almost two decades, during which he carried out reforms, strengthened the military, increased the revenues through proper utilization of the agricultural lands, and eradicated corruption. As a great patron of arts and literature, he was in correspondence with the political elite and literati of the other parts of the Persianate World, ranging from Central Asia to the Ottoman Sultanate and the Subcontinent. He authored several books such as "Riyaz al-Insha” and built a magnificent college in Bidar, where scholars from Iran, Iraq, and Arabia used to teach. This aroused the jealousy of his rivals, who by bribing his servants obtained his seal, affixed it on a blank paper and forged a letter inviting the Rajah of Orissa to attack the Bahmani Kingdom. The letter was shown to the king who was in a drunken state and he promptly summoned Gawan and executed him. The end of this scholar statesman brought about the decline of the kingdom, which in the next two decades splintered into five independent sultanates.
436 solar years ago, on this day in 1585 AD, a massacre took place in the city of Harlem in Holland on the orders of Spain’s King Philip II, to crush Dutch freedom-seekers. It was the worst of several periodic massacres launched by Spain to keep Holland under its control. The Harlem massacre saw the death of 6,000 Dutch independence-seekers. In 1609, Holland gained independence from Spain.
433 solar years ago, on this day in 1588 AD, English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, was born. He believed that human beings by nature are selfish and power-hungry with the tendency to dominate. He thus advocated establishment of a powerful government to provide peace and security for the vulnerable people. His most important book is "Leviathan”. He died in 1679.
372 solar years ago, on this day in 1649 AD, Elihu Yale, the Welsh philanthropist for whom Yale University in what is now the United States of America is named, was born in Boston, Colony of Massachusetts. He came to England and joined the East India Company which appointed him governor of Fort St. George, Madras, which the English had leased from the Persianate Qutb-Shahi Dynasty of Golkandah-Haiderabad. The Moghal Emperor Aurangzeb soon conquered the whole of Deccan and demanded allegiance of the English, which Yale complied willingly, and promised to supply troops in the event of war. Yale, who had learned Persian and provided passage to Iran (at a high cost) for Ibrahim Beg the Safavid Ambassador to the Deccan court, amassed a fortune, largely through secret contracts with Madras merchants, against the East India Company’s directive. By 1692, his repeated flouting of regulations and growing embarrassment at his illegal profiteering resulted in his being relieved of the post of governor, under pressure of the Moghal government, because of Yale’s levying of heavy taxes on the local inhabitants and indulgence in slave trade. On his instructions, the English would kidnap young children and sell them to distant parts of the world. In 1699, having accumulated considerable wealth through every foul mean, he returned to England and settled in Wrexham. In 1718, when on request for help from the Collegiate School in New Haven in the Colony of Connecticut, Yale sent 417 books and a substantial sum of money. In gratitude, the officials named the new building after him. Soon the entire institution became Yale College, and eventually Yale University, which has the third largest library in the US, and contains rare Persian and Arabic manuscripts as well.
299 solar years ago, on this day in 1722 AD, on Easter Sunday Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen discovered a Polynesian Island 1400 miles from the coast of South America and named it Easter Island. Since the island was treeless he wondered how its massive statues were erected. Much of the population was later wiped out and the island became a possession of Chile. An indigenous script called ‘rongorongo’ survived but by 2002 was still not deciphered. In 2005 Steven Roger Fischer authored "Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island.”
238 lunar years ago, on this day in 1214 AH, the Treaty of al-Arish was signed by France and the Ottoman Empire for withdrawal of French occupation forces from Egypt, three years after Napoleon Bonaparte had occupied the Land of the Nile.
227 solar years ago, on this day in 1794 AD, Georges Danton, one of the leaders of the French Revolution, was hanged at the age of 65. An eloquent speaker, he believed that the monarchic system should be ousted to prevent oppression and chaos in society. He was the victim of a plot by his revolutionary rival, Maximilian Robespierre, who now unleashed the four-month Reign of Terror on France.
88 lunar years ago, on this day in 1354 AH, the prominent Islamic scholar, Allamah Shaikh Mohammad Jawad Balaghi, passed away. He was a theologian, a prominent lecturer, and a prolific author. He attended the classes of the prominent lecturers of his era, such as Mirza Shirazi, and turned into one of the renowned Islamic teachers and authors of his time. Among his valuable books, mention can be made of "Balaagh al-Mobin” on proof of God’s Existence and Omnipresence.
78 solar years ago, on this day in 1943 AD, during World War II, US bomber aircraft massacred more than 900 Belgian civilians, including 209 children, in addition to wounding 1300 others, in the town of Mortsel. This and other war crimes of the Allied forces in Germany and other parts of Europe, as well as in Japan, have been hushed up by the western media and politicians.
65 solar years ago, on this day in 1956 AD, a ruthless 2-day raid on the city of Gaza by troops of the illegal Zionist entity ended, resulting in the martyrdom of 56 women, children, and elderly people. The ominous silence of the West and international circles emboldened usurper Israel to commit such heinous crimes against Palestinians.
46 solar years ago, on this day in 1975 AD, Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general, politician, president of the Republic of China (1928-1948), and then president of the breakaway island state of Formosa (Taiwan), died at the age of 88. His dream to retake mainland China which he lost to the communists led by Mao Zedong during the civil war of 1949 never materialized, despite his backing of nationalist, ethnic and religious forces including the Muslims of Xinjiang and Yunan.
40 solar years ago, on this day in 1981 AD, The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, in a heroic operation, attacked the H-3 Airbase and destroyed over 50 Iraqi aircraft during the 8-year war imposed by Saddam on the orders of the US.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2013 AD, noted Kashmiri historian, Dr. Mohammad Ishaq Khan, died in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, at the age of 69. His most widely read book is "Kashmir’s Transition to Islam: The Role of Muslim Rishis”, which has been described as an authoritative and seminal work on the social dimension of Islam in Kashmir. His last work, published posthumously is "Merited Invocation”, which is an English translation along with notes and annotations of the Persian book "Awraad-e Fathiyya” of the famous Iranian missionary, Mir Seyyed Ali Hamedani, to whom goes the credit of spreading Islam in Kashmir. Ishaq Khan wrote several researched articles published in international magazines such as: "Reflections on Time and History vis-à-vis the Qur’an”, "Islam in Kashmir: Some distinctive features”, "Persian Influences in Kashmir in the Sultanate Period”, "The Rishi Movement as a Social Force in The Making of Indo-Persian Culture”, and "The Evolution of Shari’ah consciousness in Kashmir: An Interpretation of Mir Seyyed Ali Hamedani’s Historical Role”.