Today is Tuesday; 7th of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 14th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1442 lunar hijri; and April 27, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1391 solar years ago, on this day in 630 AD, 9-year old Ardashir III, Iran’s 24th Sassanid Emperor, was killed by General Shahrbaraz, after an 18-month reign. He was enthroned as a boy of 7 years on the suspicious death of his father, Shirawaiyh Qobad II, the killer and successor of his own father, Khosrow II and some thirty of his own brothers. Of Parthian stock, Shahrbaraz , as the victorious general of the Sassanid-Byzantine wars, had conquered Syria, Egypt, and Anatolia, right up to the walls of Constantinople, before withdrawing on learning of Emperor Khosrow’s plot to assassinate him. On killing the boy emperor, he usurped the throne but was killed forty days later by the nobles who placed on the throne, Khosrow’s daughter, Puranddokht – Iran’s first empress.
1375 lunar years ago, on this day in 67 AH, Mukhtar Ibn Abi Obaidah Thaqafi, the Avenger of the Innocent Blood of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWA) younger grandson and 3rd Infallible Heir, Imam Husain (AS), achieved martyrdom in Kufa at the hands of Mus’ab Ibn Zubayr at the age of 66. Born in Ta’ef in Hijaz, to Abi Obaidah (a commander of the Muslim conquest of Iraq from the Sassanids), he was a devout follower of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS) – the Prophet’s First Infallible Heir. He was imprisoned by the usurper Omayyad regime on the threshold of the arrival of Imam Husain (AS) in Iraq. After the Imam’s tragic martyrdom in Karbala, he was released and returned to his homeland Hijaz. Following the tyrant Yazid’s death, he came back to Iraq, where he had the support of Arab tribes loyal to the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt and the "Mawali” (as Iranians were known), in his campaign to bring to justice the killers of Imam Husain (AS). He took the city of Kufa and brought vast tracts of Iraq and Iran under his control, at a time when the Omayyad usurpers and Abdullah Ibn Zubayr – who had established as ruler of Hijaz – were battling for power of the Islamic state that belonged to neither of them. Mukhtar repulsed the attacks of the Omayyad army from Syria, and in heroic combat, along with Ibrahim Ibn Malik Ashtar, killed the principal perpetrators of the heartrending tragedy of Karbala, such as Obaidollah Ibn Ziyad, Haseen Ibn Numayr and others. So strong was his sense of justice that he even did not spare the life of his own brother-in-law (sister’s husband), Omar Ibn Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, who had commanded the Omayyad forces against Imam Husain (AS) and then imprisoned the Prophet’s family. Mukhtar and his companions, including Iranians and Arabs, meted out justice to such bloodthirsty murderers as Shemr Ziljowshan, Khouli, Harmala etc. After a rule of a year-and-a-half, he attained martyrdom because of the treachery of the Kufans during battle with the forces of Mus’ab Ibn Zubayr. His tomb is in the mausoleum of Imam Husain’s (AS) cousin, Muslim Ibn Aqeel, beside the Grand Mosque of Kufa.
1219 lunar years ago, on this day in 223 AH, Seyyed Hassan, known as Jalal od-Din Ashraf, the youngest son of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAWA) 7th Infallible Heir, Imam Musa Kazem (AS), achieved martyrdom at the age of 53 in Gilan, northern Iran, and was laid to rest in the village of Kouchan, which soon grew into a site of pilgrimage as the bustling city of Astan-e Ashrafiyeh (Threshold of Ashraf). Born in Medina in 180 AH, shortly after his father was taken to Iraq as prisoner by the Abbasid tyrant, Haroun Rashid, he grew up under the guidance of his elder brother, Imam Reza (AS), on whose forced journey to Marv in distant Khorasan on the orders of the self-styled caliph, Mamoun, he was a youth of 21 years. Brave, pious, and prudent, he soon shifted to Baghdad but in 204 when Mamoun shifted his capital to this city after martyring Imam Reza (AS) in Tous, Khorasan, he moved to Qom. Two years later he was invited to Gilan by the people to confront remnants of the ousted Omayyad regime in the northern parts of Iran on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. In 211 AH (828 AD), he established the first ever state in Iran by a member of the Prophet’s family. Twelve years later, on being severely injured in battle against the Abbasid forces at Lyalman (5 km from Lahijan), he trekked toward the mountains so that his body does not fall into enemy hands, and breathed his last some 9 km from Roudbar in the house of Shaikh Mufid od-Din. According to his will, his body was put in a coffin and floated down the Sefidroud River until it reached Kouchan where the people recognizing him laid him to rest amid lamentation. Soon a mausoleum was built over his grave and became known as Aastan-e Ashrafiyeh in his honour. It is worth noting that the rice grown in the paddy fields around the city and known as the "Astaneh” brand is famous for its aroma, which is believed to be among the blessings of the burial of the Prophet’s venerable descendant in this soil.
900 lunar years ago, on this day in 542 AH, the Malekite hadith scholar, Mohammad Ibn Ali Ibn Mohammad al-Jullabi al-Maghazeli, passed away at the age of 95 in Baghdad. He was the son of Ali Ibn Mohammad al-Jullabi al-Maghazeli, the author of the famous book "Manaqeb (Imam) Ali Ibn Abi Taleb (AS)”, which he used to teach and explain to students.
500 solar years ago, on this day in 1521 AD, Portuguese sailor, Ferdinand Magellan, was killed at the age of 51 in the Philippines during a skirmish with the local people. He started his sea voyage with five ships in 1519 and after rounding the southern tip of South America (that later became known as the Magellan Strait) he reached the Philippines. The Portuguese occupiers, followed by the Spanish, forcibly converted the Filipinos to the Catholic sect of Christianity at a time when Islam was spreading from the south.
284 solar years ago, on this day in 1737 AD, British historian and parliamentarian, Edward Gibbon, was born. He authored the famous 6-volume work "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, known for its quality prose, use of primary sources, and open criticism of Judaism and Christianity. He traced the trajectory of Western civilization as well as the spread of Islam and the Mongol invasion from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. He says about Prophet Mohammad (SAWA): "He breathed among the faithful a spirit of charity and friendship; recommended the practice of social virtues; and checked ... the thirst of revenge, and the oppression of widows and orphans.”
Gibbon notes the remarkable preservation of the holy Qur’an in its original form, from the time of the Prophet till this day, in contrast to the scriptures of the Jews and Christians that have constantly undergone changes. He says: "It is not the propagation but the permanency of his religion that deserves our wonder, the same pure and perfect impression which he engraved at Mecca and Medina is preserved after the revolutions of twelve centuries by the Indian, the African and the Turkish proselytes of the Qur’an.”
About Imam Ali (AS), Gibbon writes: "The zeal and virtue of Ali were never outstripped by any recent proselyte. He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist, in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valour. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the Apostle was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses.”
About the heartrending tragedy of Karbala, Gibbon states: "In a distant age and climate the tragic scene of the death of Husain will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.”
Gibbon was highly critical of the Christian Church and has written: "If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism.”
About the Israelites, he is even more frank and forthright, writing: "Humanity is shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties which they (Jews) committed in the cities of Egypt, of Cyprus, and of Cyrene, where they dwelt in treacherous friendship with the unsuspecting natives;”
In his footnote Gibbon adds: "In Cyrene, [the Jews] massacred 220,000 Greeks; in Cyprus, 240,000; in Egypt, a very great multitude... The victorious Jews devoured the flesh, licked up the blood, and twisted the entrails like a girdle around their bodies.”
227 solar years ago, on this day in 1794 AD, Anglo-Welsh philologist and scholar of Indo-Iranian culture, William Jones, known by his Persian nom de plume "Younus Oksfardi” (یونس اوکسفردی), died in Calcutta, India, at the age of 47. Born in London, he was a linguistic prodigy, learning Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew and the basics of Chinese writing at an early age. By the end of his life he knew thirteen languages thoroughly and another twenty-eight reasonably well. At the age of 23, he published "Histoire de Nader Chah” (1770) – a French translation of a work on Iranian Emperor Nader Shah Afshar which was originally written in Persian by Mirza Mahdi Khan Astarabadi. During this period he took the penname "Younus Oksfardi”. If the second half of his pen name, "Oksfardi”, is a Persian rendition of "from Oxford”, and indicates his deep attachment for Oxford University, the first half is his own first name, since Jones is a derivative of Jonah the Prophet, whom the holy Qur’an calls "Younus” – a name common amongst Muslims, including Iranians. This penname can be seen on the inner front cover of his Persian Grammar published in 1771 – (and in subsequent editions as well). These were the first of his numerous works on Iran, Turkey, India, and the West, South and Central Asia in general, which made him familiar with the wisdom of the scholars of the east who shared a common linguistic and cultural heritage with Europe as well. William Jones thus became one of the first Europeans to realize the existence of relationship among Indo-European languages. His study of law in London brought him the appointment of judge at the Supreme Judicature at Fort William in Calcutta, in 1783, which would eventually lead him to his life-work in India. On 15 January 1784, along with Henry Thomas Colebrooke and Nathaniel Halhed, he founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and started a journal called "Asiatic Researches”. Over the next ten years till his death, he produced a flood of works on India, launching the modern study of the subcontinent in virtually every social science. He also wrote on the local laws, music, literature, botany, and geography, and made the first English translations of several important works of Indian literature, both from Persian and Sanskrit.
208 solar years ago, on this day in 1813 AD, US troops captured from the British the capital of Upper Canada in the Battle of York (present day Toronto). The next year the British retaliated by capturing the US capital, Washington, and burning it to the ground. The 32-month war that started in 1812 and ended in 1815, is known as the Second War of Independence and led to formal recognition by London of the independence of its former 13 New England colonies that had rebelled in 1776 and declared themselves the United States of America.
201 solar years ago, on this day in 1820 AD, Herbert Spencer, British biologist, anthropologist, sociologist, and philosopher, was born in Derby. He believed that science should be learned via observation and experiment. He admitted that mankind’s mind is limited, but he denied realities such as the soul. Some of his works are: "Principles of Sociology”, "Principles of Biology”, and "Principles of Psychology”. He died in 1903.
194 lunar years ago, on this day in 1248 AH, the Iranian scholar, Shams od-Din Behbahani, passed away. A student of the famous researcher, Mohaqqeq Behbahani, in addition to his mastery over theology and jurisprudence, he was a pious mystic who spent most of his life compiling books. He has written a detailed annotation on "Ma’alem al-Osoul”, and treatises on the principles of religion.
153 lunar years ago, on this day in 1289 AH, prominent religious scholar of India, Seyyed Mohammad Taqi, popular as Mumtaz ul-Ulema, passed away in the city of Lucknow. His library is famous in India, and he authored several books such as "Irshad al-Momineen”, "Hadiqat al-Wa’ezeen”, and "Zaheer ash-Shi’a”.
139 solar years ago, on this day in 1882 AD, US author and thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, died. On his visit to Europe, Emerson studied continental literature and published his first book: "Nature”. He is the first American author, who became familiar with the rich Iranian literature and managed to introduce to the Western world, Persian poetry and literary figures such as Hafez, Sa’di, Mowlavi, and Khayyam.
61 solar years ago, on this day in 1960 AD, Togo in southwest Africa, gained independence from French colonial rule. For several centuries the Togo people were abducted by the Portuguese and Spanish and sold as slaves in the Americas. In 1858, Germany seized Togo and following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, France and Britain occupied and divided it between themselves. Togo covers an area of 56,000 sq km. Its Capital is Lome. It shares borders with Ghana, Benin and Burkina Faso. Islam, which has over 30 percent adherents, is the fastest growing religion.
60 solar years ago, on this day in 1961 AD, Sierra Leone in West Africa gained independence from British rule. It was occupied by the Portuguese in the 16th century AD and its people were kidnapped and sold as slaves in Europe and the Americas. The British seized it in late 18th century. In 1971, ten years after independence, Sierra Leone became a republic. It has been wracked by coups and counter coups ever since. Sierra Leone has a coastline on The Atlantic Ocean and covers an area of 71,000 sq km, sharing borders with Guinea and Liberia. Some 75 percent of the population is Muslim.
59 solar years ago, on this day in 1962 AD, noted statesman, Abu’l-Qassem Fazl ul-Haq, known as Sher-e Bangla (Tiger of Bengal), passed away at the age of 89 in Dhaka, in what was then known East Pakistan and is Bangladesh today. He was the senior figure of the Congress Party, but as Muslim he organised the Muslim League in 1920s, later led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. He played a crucial role in drafting and presenting the Lahore Resolution and had active public position in British India advocating for the Pakistan Movement in the 1940s. After establishment of Pakistan, he was appointed as Chief Minister of East Bengal in 1952, and in 1955 became the Interior Minister of Pakistan. In 1956, he was appointed Governor-General of East Pakistan and led the United Front, presided over the provisional state until 1958. Sher-e-Bangla founded several educational and technical institutions for Bengali Muslims, including Islamia College in Calcutta and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU) in Dhaka. Today throughout Bangladesh, educational institutions (e.g., Barisal Sher-e Bangla Medical College), roads, neighborhoods (Sher-e Bangla Nagor), and stadiums (Sher-e Bangla Mirpur Stadium) are named after him. In Islamabad, Pakistan, the Fazl ul-Haq Road is named after him.
49 solar years ago, on this day in 1972 AD, Ghanaian politician and independence leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, died in exile in Bucharest, Romania at the age of 62. In 1951 in the first general election held in the Gold Coast, which later became Ghana, he led the Convention People’s Party to victory and was chosen prime minister. Under his leadership, Ghana gained independence in 1957 from British rule. After Ghana became a republic in 1960, Nkrumah became President. An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity. He escaped several assassination attempts and in 1966, while on a visit to China was overthrown in a military coup staged by General Joseph Ankrah on the orders of the US and Britain.
43 solar years ago, on this day in 1978 AD, General Abdul-Qader Dagarwal staged a coup in Afghanistan, and after killing President Mohammad Dawoud Khan, installed leader of the People’s Democratic Party, Noor Mohammad Taraki as the new head of state. Soon, power was seized in another coup by communist party chief, Hafizullah Amin, and instability gripped the country, resulting in a third coup staged by Babrak Karmal who killed Amin and seized power. In December 1979, Karmal invited the Soviet Union to occupy Afghanistan. He remained in power till 1987 with Moscow’s help before his dismissal and replacement by General Mohammad Najibollah. Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, the Afghan mujahideen intensified their operations to bring to its end the Najibollah regime in 1992, and setting up the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, which has continued to be wracked by chaos and instability by various factions followed by the Taliban, and currently the US occupation.
28 lunar years ago, on this day in 1414 AH, American-Zionist soldier of German Jewish parentage, Baruch Goldstein, opened fire on rows of Palestinian Muslims praying in congregation at the shrine of Prophet Abraham (AS) in the city of al-Khalil in the West Bank of River Jordan in the blessed fasting month of Ramadhan. As a result of this cowardly act of terrorism 29 people were martyred and scores of others wounded. This act of terrorism led to the anger of the civilized world. As a result, the Arab compromisers had no other choice but to postpone their dubious negotiations with the illegal Zionist entity.
27 solar years ago, on this day in 1994 AD, the first general democratic elections were held in South Africa, in which black citizens could vote, after end of the white racist Apartheid regime. The Interim Constitution came into force.