This Day in History (April 24)
Today is Saturday; 4th of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 11th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1442 lunar hijri; and April 24, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
3500 solar years ago, on this day in 1479 BC, Thutmose III ascended the throne of Egypt as a year-old child on the death of his father Thutmose II, but power shifted to his stepmother and aunt Hatshepsut, who though a regent, effectively ruled for 22 years as the 5th Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty until her death. Thutmose III now assumed absolute power as the 6th Pharaoh and ruled for the next 32 years until his death and was succeeded by his son, Amenhotep II. Thutmose III created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen – from Niya in North Syria to the 4th Cataract of the River Nile in Nubia. In 1457 BC, he fought the Battle of Megiddo with a large Canaanite coalition under the King of Kadesh in Palestine. It is believed to be the first battle recorded in relative detail. This battle is also the first recorded use of the composite bow and the first body count. All details come from Egyptian sources—primarily the hieroglyphic writings on the Hall of Annals in the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, Thebes (now Luxor), by the military scribe Tjaneni. The battle resulted in the rout of the Canaanite forces. Tell Megiddo or Har Megiddo, as it is called in Hebrew, was corrupted to "Armageddon” in the Greek translation of the Bible, and is associated with some crucial battles in history. It is supposed to be the site (although its authentication is open to doubt), of the last battle in the end times between the forces of good and evil. Of the two other crucial battles that took place in Megiddo, is the one fought in 609 BC between the Egyptians and the Israelites, in which Pharaoh Necho II while leading his army to fight the Babylonians in Syria, defeated the Kingdom of Judah and killed King Josiah, as recorded in the Old Testament. The last and the best-known Battle of Megiddo was in 1918 during the closing months of World War I when a British force made up of soldiers of different lands including Arabs and Indian Muslims, and led by General Edmund Allenby defeated the Ottoman Turks to seize control of Palestine.
3205 solar years ago, on this day 1184 BC, Troy on the coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) was burned by Greeks who entered it deceitfully by using a huge wooden horse, which the unsuspecting Trojans took inside their city, unaware that in its belly hid a select group of soldiers. After midnight, Ulysses and his comrades got out of the wooden horse and opened the gates for the Greek army, which under pretext of withdrawal had moved out of sight, only to burst in and massacre the sleeping Trojans. As per the calculations of the geographer and mathematician Eratosthenes, the librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria, then the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, a different date (June 11) is given for the end of the 10-year long Trojan War that had started following abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, the ruler of Sparta, by Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy.
1469 solar years ago, on this day in 552 AD, the first systemized academy for writing and translating of books was set up in southwestern Iran in what is now Khuzestan by the Sassanid emperor, Khosrow I Anushirvan in the town of Gundishapur, established by Shapur I three centuries earlier. In 489, when Roman Emperor Zeno ordered closed the Nestorian Christian theological and scientific center in Edessa, the academy and staff moved into the territory of the Sassanid Empire and were absorbed into the School of Nisibis in what is now Turkey. Here, Syriac-speaking Christian scholars, together with Hellenistic philosophers expelled from Athens by Emperor Justinian in 529, carried out important research in medicine, astronomy, and mathematics, before shifting deeper into Iran in Gondishapur. The refugees were commissioned to translate Greek and Syriac texts into Pahlavi. They translated various works on medicine, astronomy, philosophy, and useful crafts. Anushirvan also invited the scholars of the east from China and India, and sent the physician Borzouyeh to the Subcontinent for this purpose. These visitors translated Indian texts on astronomy, astrology, mathematics and medicine and Chinese texts on herbal medicine and religion. Borzouyeh is said to have himself translated the "Panchatantra” from Sanskrit into Middle Persian as "Kalila va Dimna”, which after the advent of Islam, was translated into Arabic and later into Persian Dari.
750 solar years ago, on this day in 1271 AD, Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, started his journey to China at the age of 17 through Anatolia, Iran, and Turkestan, in the company of his father Nicolo and uncle Maffeo, after they had returned from a historic trip by an Italian to the court of the Mongol Emperor, Kublai Khan, in Khanbaliq (present day Beijing). They stayed in China for 21 years, departing in 1292 by sea through Southeast Asia as escorts for Princess Kokachin, whom the Great Khan sent to Iran as a bride for his grandnephew, Arghun Khan, the Ilkhanid Mongol ruler of Iran-Iraq and parts of Syria and Anatolia. It took two years for Marco Polo and the bridal party to reach Hormuz on the Persian Gulf, where they learned Arghun Khan had died and was succeeded by his son, Ghazaan Khan, who had converted to Islam and changed his name to Mahmoud (he eventually married the Princess in his capital Maragheh). Marco Polo continued his journey and in 1295, after 24 long years and 24,000 km of travelling by land and sea, he finally returned to his hometown, Venice, which was at war with Genoa. Marco was taken prisoner and during imprisonment, related his memoirs to Rustichello da Pisa, mentioning his observations of the lands he had visited, including the use of paper money in China, which made the Italians mock and ridicule him as a madman.
710 solar years ago, on this day in 1311 AD, General Malik Kafur returned to Delhi from his victorious campaign in the Deccan (southern India) and presented Sultan Ala od-Din, the second and greatest king of the short-lived Khalji Turko-Persian Dynasty of Northern India, 241 tonnes of gold, 20,000 horses, and 612 elephants laden with treasure, including the famous diamond "Koh-e Noor” (Mountain of Light), excavated at Golkandah. Originally a Hindu from Khambat in Gujarat, western India, he was known as "Hazar-Dinari” (Thousand Dinar – the price paid for him by the Sultan), and on embracing Islam, rapidly rose to become an able general, who brought south India into the fold of the Muslim World, when Islamic faith was fast spreading in all directions – Russia, eastern Europe, West Africa and southeast Asia.
589 lunar years ago, on this day in 853 AH, the Shafei jurisprudent and historian, Burhan od-Din Abu Ishaq ibn Musa, popular as Ibrahim Karki, passed away in Cairo, Egypt at the age of 77. Born in Kark in what is now Jordan, he studied in Syria and later at Cairo’s al-Azhar academy, mastering Qur’anic sciences, Hadith, Arabic grammar, literature, and history. He lived in al-Khalil and Bayt al-Moqaddas for a long time before settling in Egypt. He wrote several books on different topics, including Qur’anic sciences, and for a period served as a judge in Egypt.
290 solar years ago, on this day in 1731 AD, British author and spy Daniel Defoe died. His works include the novels "Robinson Crusoe,” "Roxana” and the pamphlet "The Shortest Way with Dissenters.” Defoe based part of his narrative on the story of the Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk, who spent four years stranded in the Juan Fernandez Islands – the island Selkirk lived on was named Mas-a-Tierra [or Closer to Land] at the time and was renamed Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966. Defoe was also inspired by the Latin/English translation of the book "Hayy ibn Yaqdhan” by the Spanish Muslim polymath Ibn Tufail, who drew the name of the tale and most of its characters from an earlier work by the Iranian Islamic multi-sided genius, Abu Ali Ibn Sina. The plot of Ibn Tufail’s work is very different, and tells the story of an autodidactic feral child, raised by a gazelle and living alone on an island.
144 solar years ago, on this day in 1877 AD, the Russian Empire declared war on the Ottoman Empire in alliance with the Christian communities of the Balkan Peninsula, and its troops entered Romania by crossing the Prut River. Fought in the Balkans and in the Caucasus for almost a year, the Russians, capitalizing on the weakness of the Ottomans, established control over the Black Sea and created new states in the Balkans. The Turks, despite some initial success, suffered heavily as a result of lack of defence strategy. The Russian march on Istanbul was halted by the humiliating terms of the Treaty of San Stefano on March 3, 1987, by which the Ottoman Empire, after five centuries of Muslim rule, was forced to grant independence to its provinces of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria. Russia also seized several Turkish provinces in the Caucasus, namely Kars and Batum in Georgia, in addition to occupying Erzurum near to the borders of Iran, with the help of Armenians, before eventual withdrawal. Taking advantage of the Ottoman defeat, the Austria-Hungarian Empire seized Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Turks, while Britain occupied Cyprus. Many towns and cities (such as Sofia in Bulgaria) that had distinct Turkish-Islamic features with mosques, baths, tekkiyes, bazaars, libraries, and public fountains, were destroyed and replaced with Christian churches. Of the 1.5 million Muslims in pre-war Bulgaria, half of them disappeared by 1879, with 200,000 massacred and the rest becoming permanent refugees in Ottoman territories. A large library containing books in Turkish, Arabic and Persian, was destroyed when a mosque in Turnovo was burned in 1877. This great setback for native European Muslims happened within half-a-century of their massacre, expulsion and forced Christianization in the province of Yunanistan, which West European powers detached from the Ottoman Empire and gave it the ancient pre-Christian name of Greece.
105 solar years ago, on this day in 1916 AD, Irish people started wide-scale protests against British occupation, following rise of the independence seeking Sinn Fein movement. The result was intense sectarian battles between the Christian sects of Protestants and Catholics. Sinn Fein was against the British policy of dividing Ireland into two parts – north and south. In 1922, Southern Ireland announced its independence as a republic, while Northern Ireland continued to remain under British rule, wracked by sectarian clashes.
95 solar years ago, on this day in 1926 AD, Head of the Persian Cossack (Qazzakh) officers in Iran, Reza Khan, was ordered by his British masters to crown himself as Shah and he chose the surname "Pahlavi”, a year after toppling the Qajar king, Ahmad Shah. In 1941 the British replaced this illiterate soldier with his son, Mohammad Reza, and exiled him to Mauritius and then to Durban, South Africa, where he died. He was often called the "New Yazid” by Iranians for his anti-Islamic policies, including the forced unveiling of Muslim women. The Pahlavis were cast into the dustbin of history with the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, under the leadership of Imam Khomeini (RA).
94 solar years ago, on this day in 1927 AD, BCG vaccine to prevent tuberculosis was discovered by the two French physicians, Albert Calmette and Guerin. As a result, mortalities from this sickness dropped to a minimum across the world.
81 solar years ago, on this day in 1940 AD, the Radio Department was established in Iran, and Radio Tehran started airing domestic news and reports on the country’s internal affairs. It was under supervision of the Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone. Five years later radio stations were set up in other major Iranian cities, to keep the public informed of local, national and international events. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the radio network was widely expanded and became nationwide. Today a wide variety of programs are aired round-the-clock for Iranians, in addition to broadcasts in 32 foreign languages for the region and the world under auspices of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
28 solar years ago, on this day in 1993 AD, one of the prominent lecturers of Persian language in Pakistan, Dr. Mohammad Baqer, passed away in his homeland. He had obtained his PhD in Persian Language and Literature from the University of Punjab. He wrote numerous books in Persian, including "Tarikh-e Sassanian” on the History of the pre-Islamic Sassanid Dynasty, and "Farsi-Namah”.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2013 AD, an 8-storey building, the Rana Plaza, collapsed near Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 1,129 people and injuring over 2,500 others. It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern times. The building contained clothing factories for famous international brands exploiting the cheap labour of Bangladesh, a bank, apartments, and several other shops. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed after cracks were discovered in the building. Warnings to avoid using the building were ignored. While garment workers were busy during the morning rush-hour, the building collapsed. The tragedy that led to criticism worldwide, and exposed the exploitative policies of the famous western brands, as well as the criminal nature of local entrepreneurs, who without concern for the safety of the oppressed people, add more floors to the original structures, in coordination with the corrupt municipal officials.