Today is Saturday; 28th of the Iranian month of Farvardin 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 4th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1442 lunar hijri; and April 17, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1389 lunar years ago, in 53 AH, the bloodthirsty Omayyad governor of Iraq and Fars, Ziyad Ibn Abihi (or son of unknown father), died in Kufa at the age 53. Born in Ta’ef to a slave-girl named Sumayya, used by her Arab master as a prostitute to augment his earnings, Ziyad, known as a person of doubtful paternity, became a Muslim – though in name only. His craftiness and brutal nature in handling the affairs of Fars (Iran), made Mu’awiyya ibn Abu Sufyan, the usurper of the caliphate, to declare him half-brother on testimony of the wine-seller of Ta’ef Abu Maryam Sululi that Ziyad was the result of cohabitation of Abu Sufyan with Sumayya. As an enemy of the Household of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), Ziyad terrorized the followers of Imam Ali (AS), and martyred some prominent figures. On his death he was succeeded as governor by his equally bloodthirsty son, Obaidullah (also born out of wedlock), who earned lasting damnation for perpetrating the tragedy of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS).
1277 solar years ago, on this day in 744 AD, Waleed II, the 11th self-styled caliph of the usurper Omayyad regime, was killed after a reign of a year and two-and-a-half months, because of his immoral habits. On assuming power he had ordered his forces in Khorasan to harass Yahya Ibn Zayd, the grandson of Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) – the 4th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Yahya was martyred in a battle in Jowzajan, which is presently in Afghanistan, and his severed head was sent to Damascus, where it is believed to be buried in the Omayyad Mosque in the spot which is mistakenly known today as the tomb of Prophet Yayha (John the Baptist). He built in his palace a fountain of wine in which he used to take dips. On one occasion he threw the holy Qur’an and riddled it with a volley of arrows. Once, in the state of intoxication and in the act of cohabiting with a drunken concubine, when he heard the call for the Fajr Prayer, he promptly asked the ritually unclean woman to put on his clothes, enter the mosque, and lead the Morning Prayer. In a famous hadith, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had foretold about this ungodly Omayyad ruler by name, and called him the Pharaoh of the ummah. Eventually Waleed II was besieged in al-Aghdaf in what is now Jordan and killed by his own forces.
866 lunar years ago, on this day in 576 AH, the Baghdadi grammarian, poet, and author, Mohammad Ibn Mohammad Ibn Muwaheb, famous as Ibn Khorasani, because of his origin in northeastern Iran, passed away at the age of 82. Among his works, mention could be made of a voluminous diwan of Arabic poetry.
834 lunar years ago, on this day in 608 AH, poet and scholar Abu’l-Qasim Hibatollah bin Ja’far, known as Qazi as-Sa’eed Ibn Sana ul-Mulk, famous for the treatise "Dar at-Tiraaz” which he devoted to the genre of "muwas̲h̲s̲h̲ah” poetry, passed away in Cairo at the age of 63. He belonged to a distinguished scholarly family of Fatemid Egypt, and was well versed in hadith and exegesis of the holy Qur’an, in addition to Arabic grammar. He lived in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria as well and for a time served as Qazi or judge in Damascus under the Ayyubid Dynasty of the Kurdish conqueror, Salaheddin Ayyoubi, in whose praise he composed some of his poems. His poetical compositions include an account of the Epic of Ashura (Moharram 10) and the tragic martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
672 solar years ago, on this day in 1349 AD, with the murder of Fakhr od-Dowla Hassan II, the Bavand dynasty of Mazandaran came to its end, and Kiya Afrasiyab, who had defeated the Bavandid army, crowned himself the first ruler of the new Afrasiyabi dynasty – which ended 155 years later in 1504 with the annexation of Mazandaran by Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid Empire.
624 solar years ago, on this day in 1397 AD, Geoffrey Chaucer of England recited for the first time his magnum opus "The Canterbury Tales” at the court of King Richard II, in the colloquial language of the ordinary English masses, rather than the church language Latin or the court language French, thus paving the way for emergence of English as the official language of the people of England.
231 solar years ago, on this day in 1790 AD, US politician, inventor, diplomat, and printer, Benjamin Franklin, died at the age of 84. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America that was set up by the 13 rebellious New England colonies, he was born in Boston to British parents. He became widely known in European scientific circles for his reports of electrical experiments and theories. He invented the lightning rod, and a type of stove – still being manufactured – to give more warmth than open fireplaces. Bifocal eyeglasses were his ideas as well. When the colonies rebelled against the British crown, he became an ardent supporter of independence, served as diplomat both at home and in Europe, and was regarded as second only to President George Washington in power and prestige. Franklin emphasized that the US could survive only if the people were virtuous, followed religious rules in both personal and civic life, and abstained from corruption, oppression, violence, and immoralities – all of which are dragging the US today towards its eventual doom.
141 solar years ago, on this day in 1880 AD, British archeologist of Mesopotamia, Charles Leonard Woolley, was born. His excavations during 1922-to-1934 of the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in modern Iraq and the burial sites, greatly advanced knowledge of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization, enabling scholars to trace the history of the city from its final days during the 4th century BC back to its prehistoric beginnings (around 4000 BC). His finds revealed much about everyday life, art, architecture, literature, government, and religion in the cradle of civilization. In royal tombs dating from about 2700 BC, he uncovered the practice of the sacrificial burial of a deceased king’s personal retinue. He discovered tombs of great material wealth, gold and silver jewelry, large paintings of ancient Mesopotamian culture at its zenith, and other furnishings. The most extravagant tomb of Queen Pu-Abi was untouched by the hands of looters through the millennia, with many well-preserved items, including a cylindrical seal bearing her name in Sumerian. His widely read book titled "Ur of the Chaldees” is a record of seven years of excavation, described his findings in a manner both informative to specialists and accessible by lay-persons.
126 solar years ago, on this day in 1895 AD, Japan forced upon China the Treaty of Shimonoseki, marking the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, and compelling the defeated Qing Empire to renounce its claims on Korea and to concede the southern portion of the Fengtien province, Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands to Japan. Japan’s arrogantly imperialist attitude towards China and Korea led to destructive wars and massive killing of people.
117 lunar years ago, on this day in 1325 AH, the prominent scholar Ayatollah Sheikh Hassan Ali Tehrani passed away and was laid to rest in the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad. Born in Tehran to the respected scholar Sheikh Mahmoud Tabrizi, after completing preliminary studies he left for Iraq for higher studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf. He then moved to Samarra and studied under the great scholar, Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi (famous for his fatwa against tobacco consumption that saved Iran’s economy from British exploitation). On his return to Iran, after a brief stay in Tehran, he decided to settle in holy Mashhad where for long years till his death he was considered the most prominent teacher. An intensely pious person, whose discourses at mourning ceremonies for the martyrs of Karbala, drew large crowds, he was socially active as well, reviving mosques in and around the city that had fallen in disuse.
106 solar years ago, on this day in 1915 AD, chemical gases were used for the first time in a war. In this inhuman measure, which took place during World War I, German forces attacked British and French forces with chemical gas, killing a large number of them. Following the end of World War I, the use of chemical weapons was banned as per international treaties, but this did not prevent the US to use chemicals against the Vietnamese in the 1960s and 1970s. The US, along with Germany, also supplied internationally-banned chemical weapons to Saddam for use against Iran during the 1980-88 imposed war. In addition to martyring and maiming a large number of Iranian civilians and combatants, while the UN and the West turned a blind eye to his crimes, Saddam also used chemical weapons on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabche massacring over 5,000 men, women, and children, and maiming more than 10,000 others, for welcoming the Iranian combatants as liberators from Ba’thist rule.
75 solar years ago, on this day in 1946 AD, the last French troops left Syria following formal recognition of its independence earlier in the year. Bilaad ash-Shaam or Greater Syria, which for four centuries had been occupied by the Ottoman Turks, was seized by the Allied powers of Britain and France in 1917 during World War I. The victors divided Syria between them, with the British creating Jordan and Palestine, and the French creating present-day Syria and Lebanon. Following independence from colonial rule, Syria went through instability for 24 years with frequent coups, counter-coups and overthrow of military and civilian governments that saw the rise and fall of more than a dozen regimes. The situation was stabilized and progress became possible, only with the coming to power in 1970 of President Hafez al-Assad, who during his 30-year rule made Syria a strong bulwark of resistance against the designs of the West and the illegal Zionist entity. He was succeeded in 2000 by his son, Dr. Bashshar al-Assad, who for the past 18 years has ably led the country, although at present he is facing an insurrection and state-sponsored terrorism incited by the US, Britain, France, Israel, Turkey and Arab reactionary states, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
60 solar years ago, on this day in 1961 AD, following failure of their diversionary landing near Baracoa, Oriente Province, over 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban anti-revolutionaries, launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Cuban forces killed 200 rebels and captured 1,197 in less than 72 hours. The command vessel Marsopa and supply ship Houston were sunk and an entire battalion was lost. A single copy of a CIA report written by inspector general Lyman Kirkpatrick was made public in 1998. The operation, which had been devised during the Eisenhower Administration, was nonetheless endorsed by the new president, John F. Kennedy.
46 solar years ago, on this day in 1975 AD, the US-backed Lon Nol regime of Cambodia surrendered to the Khmer Rouge (Red Cambodia). Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge, occupied the capital Phnom Penh ending Cambodia’s five-year war. He renamed the country "Democratic Kampuchea”, thus beginning his brutal rule that resulted in the death of some three million people or approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population, through executions, forced labour, malnutrition and poor medical care.
29 lunar years ago, on this day in 1413 AH, Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli, passed away at the age of 91. Born near Amol in Mazandaran, he studied in Tehran under Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Modarres for twelve years, before moving to holy Qom. After attaining Ijtehad, he moved to holy Najaf in Iraq and stayed there for thirty years. On his return to Qom he firmly supported the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA) in the struggle against the despotic British-installed and US-backed Pahlavi regime. His students include Mostafa Mohaqeq Damad, Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani, Ayatollah Mohammad Mofatteh, and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi. Ayatollah Amoli was the father of Dr. Ali Larijani, the former Speaker of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) and of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the former Judiciary Head.
17 solar years ago, on this day in 2004 AD, Palestinian activist and Leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, Dr. Abdul-Aziz Rantisi, was martyred when the car carrying him was targeted with missiles by Zionist choppers. Born in Palestine in 1947, he graduated in medicine from Egypt’s Alexandria University in 1967, and joined the struggle against the usurper state of Israel. He was imprisoned, tortured and exiled to "no man’s land” on the frontier of Occupied Palestine with southern Lebanon, where the contact of Rantisi and his group with members of the legendry anti-terrorist movement, the Hezbollah, positively changed their outlook, and infused new spirit into Hamas.
14 lunar years ago, on this day in 1328 AH, the famous researcher, author and religious scholar, Allamah Seyyed Morteza Sharif Askari, passed away at the age 96 in Tehran and was laid to rest in Qom in the holy mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema Masouma (SA). Born in Samarra in a family of scholars who mostly held the title of "Shaikh al-Islam” during the Safavid era and were active in Sabzevar and Saveh, guiding masses towards the School of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, after initial studies in his hometown he came to Qom for higher studies, because the British-installed dictator Reza Khan Pahlavi had stopped transfer of money to Iranian students in Iraq. He benefited from the classes of Ayatollah Abdul-Karim Haeri, and on his return to Samarra, studied other branches of science, such as philosophy, history, and exegesis of the holy Qur’an. In Iraq during the 1950s he found that the young generation was being attracted to secular universities, and this made him embark on an ambitious project to establish the Islamic University in Baghdad where along with modern sciences, religious courses and exegesis of the holy Qur’an were taught. This university was closed during the 1970s by the repressive Ba’th minority regime, which persecuted him, forcing him to move to Iran, where he continued his research and teaching activities till the end of his fruitful life. He wrote several books, shedding light on the facts of Islamic history and refuting the baseless accusations against Shi’a Muslims. Some of his works are: "Abdullah ibn Saba and Other Historical Legends”, and "150 So-Called Companions”. The latter work is a thorough research of primary Islamic books of hadith and history to expose as fictitious some 150 persons who never existed but were unfortunately regarded as companions of the Prophet and spurious accounts of the Prophet’s life narrated from them, in order to mislead Muslims and keep them ignorant of the divinely-decreed rights of the Ahl al-Bayt.