Today is Thursday; 9th of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 16th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1442 lunar hijri; and April 29, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1310 solar years ago, on this day in 711 AD, the Muslim conquest of Spain formally started with the landing of a well-organized Berber-Arab army under command of Tareq ibn Ziyad on the rocky island known till this day as Gibraltar – a corruption of the Arabic "Jabal at-Tareq”. Since the 680s Muslims from North Africa had been raiding coastal towns of the Iberian Peninsula across the Mediterranean but this was the first full-fledged expedition that led to the conquest of what are now Spain and Portugal, and which became the Province of al-Andalus. Tareq was governor of Tangiers in what is now Morocco under Musa ibn Nusayr, the conqueror and overall governor of the Province of Ifriqiya (made up of present day western Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco). Tareq was made governor of Spain but was eventually called back to Damascus by the jealous Omayyad caliph, Walid I, who also relieved Musa ibn Nusayr of the overall charge of northwest Africa, Spain and the islands off the coast of France. There are three different accounts of the origins of Tareq given by Arab historians – he was a Persian from Hamedan; he was an Arab of the Sadf tribe; he was a Berber from North Africa. Musa is also said to be the son of an Iranian Christian, according to the historian Tabari; while others say he was from the Lakhmid Arab clan who were clients of the Sassanid Dynasty.
979 lunar years ago, on this day in 463 AH, eminent theologian and jurisprudent, Mohammad Ibn Hassan Ibn Hamza Abu Ya’la al-Ja`fari, passed away in Baghdad. He was a student and later son-in-law of the celebrated scholar, Shaikh Mufid, and traced his lineage to Ja’far at-Tayyar Ibn Abi Taleb, the elder brother of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS). He later became head of the followers of the School of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, groomed many scholars and wrote several books. He is not to be confused with his contemporary, the Iranian scholar Abu Ya’la Hamza Ibn Abdullah Sallar Ibn Abdul-Aziz Daylami, who also studied under Shaikh Mufid in Baghdad and passed away ten days earlier on Ramadhan 6 in the same year. It is worth noting that Abu Ya’la is a common "kunya” (agnomen) in Arabic of persons named Hamza.
930 solar years ago, on this day in 1091 AD, at the Battle of Levounion in the Balkans, the Pechenegs Turks, while invading the Byzantine Empire from their homeland north of the Black Sea, were decisively defeated by Emperor Alexius I, who was afraid that a possible alliance between these non-Muslim Turks and the Muslim Turks of the Iran-based Seljuq Empire could spell the end of the Eastern Roman Empire.
732 solar years ago, on this day in 1289 AD, the principality of Tripoli, in what is now Lebanon, was freed from180 years of European Christian occupation by Sultan Qalawun of Egypt, heralding the end of the last few remaining "pocket-states” of the Crusaders in Syria. The liberation of Tripoli was preceded by that of Margat (in 1285) and Lattakhiya (in 1287), and was followed by the liberation of Acre (in 1291). The Crusaders of Tripoli had brought upon themselves the wrath of the Muslims by their alliance with the Buddhists and active participation in Hulagu Khan’s sack of Baghdad in 1258 and the Mongol invasions of Syria in 1260. The Mamluk sultan razed Tripoli to the ground and ordered the building of a new city a few km inland.
622 solar years ago, on this day in 1399 AD, Malik Ahmad Raja Faruqi, the founder of the Khandesh Sultanate in Central India – that lasted from 1382-to-1601 – died after a reign of 17 years as independent ruler, and was succeeded by his son, Nasser Khan. Son of Khan-e Jahan Faruqi, a minister in the court of Sultan Mohammad bin Tughlaq in Delhi, on separation of the Deccan in 1347, he cast his lot with Ala od-Din Hassan Bahman Shah (of Iranian origin), but in 1365 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 later, along with Karanda, was conferred upon him as fiefdom by Sultan Ferouz Shah Tughlaq of Delhi. He soon defeated the Raja of Baglana and subdued the neighbouring chieftains, prompting Ferouz Shah to raise him to the rank of Sipah-Salar. Within a few years he mustered a force of twelve thousand cavalry, and by 1382 became virtually independent. His son Nasser Khan ruled for 38 years that saw fluctuating fortunes for the kingdom because of constant warfare with Gujarat and the Bahmani Kingdom. Khandesh, with its capital, Burhanpur, was annexed by the Mughal Emperor Jalal od-Din Akbar in 1601. The Sultanate was a Persianate society, with its 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.
597 lunar years ago, on this day in 845 AH, renowned Egyptian Shafe’i scholar and historian, Taqi od-Din Ahmad ibn Ali al-Maqrizi, passed away. Though he lived in the Mamluk era, he was an expert in the history of the Ismaili Fatemid Shi’ite dynasty and its role in Egyptian history. In fact, he regarded himself a descendent of the Fatemid caliph, al-Mo’ez le-Dinillah. Born in Cairo, he traveled widely in the Hejaz and Syria, and for a while worked as a judge in the Egyptian capital. Among his works is a book on Egyptian history titled: "as-Solouk le-Ma’refat ad-Dowal wa’l-Molouk” and "Itte’aaz al-Hunafa be Akhbaar al-A’emmat-al-Fatemiyyeen al-Khulafa” (on the history of the Fatemid state).
175 lunar years ago, on this day in 1277 AH, the scholar Ayatollah Shaikh Abdur-Rahim Borujerdi, passed away in Mashhad at the age of 85 and was laid to rest in the courtyard of the mausoleum of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). After preliminary studies in his hometown Boroujerd he went to Iraq for higher studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf, where his teachers included Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Hussain Kashef al-Gheta, Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Isfahani, and the celebrated jurisprudent Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Najafi – author of "Jawaher al-Kalaam”. On reaching the status of Ijtehad he taught at the seminaries of Najaf and Karbala, before returning to Iran and settling in the capital Tehran, where his classes attracted a large number of students, including Shaikh Mohammad Hussain Mamaqani, and the celebrated Mirza Hussain Tabarsi Muhaddith Noori, who also became his son-in-law. His fame made the academic elite of Mashhad invite him to their city, where he infused new spirit into the seminary and was eventually appointed as custodian of the Holy Shrine of the 8th Imam (Astan-e Qods Razawi). He authored several books including "Jawame’ al-Kalaam fi Sharh Qawa’ed al-Ahkaam”, and "Hadiyat ar-Razawiyya” on the norms, merits and virtues of pilgrimage to the 8th Imam’s shrine.
167 solar years ago, on this day in 1854 AD, French mathematician and biologist, Henri Poincare, was born. He conducted extensive studies, and his analysis on light, electricity, algebra, geometry, and possibilities calculus are important till this day. He was an authority on philosophy as well. His Poincare Conjecture holds that if any loop in a given three-dimensional space can be shrunk to a point, the space is equivalent to a sphere. It remained an unsolved problem until Grigori Perelman proved a complete proof in 2003. He wrote books in different scientific fields and died in 1912.
105 solar years ago, on this day in 1916 AD, during World War I: The British Indian Army – 6th Poona Division numbering 13,000 – under Maj-Gen Charles Townshend surrendered to Ottoman Forces at the end of the 147-day Siege of Kut in southern Iraq, during which attempts by other British battalions to break the siege ended in losses in the Battles of Shaikh Sa’d, Wadi and Hanna. It was one of the largest surrenders of British forces. The survivors of the siege were marched to imprisonment at Aleppo in Syria.
93 solar years ago, on this day in 1928 AD, at the behest of West European powers, Turkey’s dictator, Mustafa Kamal, forced the Turkish Muslim people to change their centuries-old writing of the Turkish language from the Arabic-Persian alphabet to the Latin script. The goal was to deprive Turkey and the Turks of their Islamic identity and make them culturally subordinate to Europe. Mustafa Kamal, who styled himself as Ataturk (or Father of Turks), was an avowed opponent of Islam, and in addition to forcibly replacing the traditional dress of the Turkish people with the European style of dressing, he banned the recitation of the Azan or the Call to Prayer from the mosques. Although these laic measures harmed the Turkish Muslims and for several decades made them subservient to the West, they failed to undermine their strong faith in Islam.
76 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD, following a string of defeats, the almost million strong Nazi German army in Italy, surrendered to the Allied forces. This setback, along with the Soviet forces’ pounding of Berlin, completely unnerved Adolf Hitler.
59 lunar years ago, on this day in 1383 AH, Shaikh Mohammad Reza al-Muzaffar passed away at the age of 61 in his hometown holy Najaf, Iraq. A scion of Iraq’s scholarly Aal-e Muzaffar family, after initial studies under his elder brother Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Muzaffar, he attended the classes of such leading scholars of the Najaf seminary, as Ayatollah Mohammad Hussain Na’ini, Ayatollah Ziya od-Din Iraqi, the famous gnostic, Allamah Seyyed Ali Qazi Tabataba’i, Ayatollah Mirza Abdul-Hadi Shirazi, and Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Isfahani. He mastered Arabic literature, jurisprudence, logic, philosophy, gnosis, and other subjects. In turn he groomed several scholars such as the famous Arabic orator, Shaikh Ahmad Wa’eli, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Sadr, Seyyed Mohammad Bahr al-Oloum, Seyyed Abdul-Karim Qazvini, Ayatollah Mohammad Mahdi Asefi, and Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri – the current Head of Iran’s Islamic Culture and Communications Organization. A prolific writer who presented many complicated jurisprudential issues in simplified form to the readers, he authored several books on various subjects, such as "Principles of Jurisprudence”, "The Imamiyyah Creed”, "Philosophy of Imam Ali (AS)”, "History of Islam”, "Biography of Mullah Sadra Shirazi”, and "al-Mantaq” or Logics, which is still taught at seminaries in Iran, Iraq and other places. Shaikh Muzaffar founded several scholarly and cultural institutes, and took important measures for promoting proximity between Shi’a and Sunni Muslims. Following his successful establishment of an elementary school in Najaf for teaching modern courses on the basis of religious culture, he set up a network of such schools in several cities. In 1376 AH (1957), he founded the College of Jurisprudence in Najaf, recognized by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, for teaching Imamiyya fiqh, comparative jurisprudence, exegesis of the holy Qur’an, hadith, Islamic history, philosophy, Arabic literature, and foreign languages, in addition to modern sciences. He was politically active as well, opposing the Britain’s planting of the illegal Zionist entity in Palestine, supporting the Algerian people’s struggle for independence from France, and condemning the Pahlavi regime of Iran for its anti-Islamic policies, including the exile of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA).
30 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, a deadly cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds of around 155 miles or 249 km per hour, killing at least 138,000 people and leaving as many as 10 million homeless.
30 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, Iranian lecturer, researcher, and sociologist, Dr. Gholam-Hussein Seddiqi, passed away at the age of 78. He studied at Islamic seminaries and at the Dar ul-Fonoun Academy in Tehran, before leaving for France, where he obtained PhD in Philosophy and Sociology. On returning to Iran, he started lecturing on the history of philosophy and sociology at Tehran University. He also played a pivotal role in foundation of National Works Association and The Institution for Social Studies. He was a member of UNESCO’s National Commission for a while. He has left behind numerous compilations including his travel book on India.
28 lunar years ago, on this day in 1414 AH, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Mojtahed Sistani, passed away at the age of 61 in his hometown Mashhad, Khorasan, and was laid to rest in the courtyard of the holy mausoleum of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Son of Allamah Mohammad Baqer Sistani, he was the younger brother of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani, who is based in holy Najaf, Iraq. He used to lead the congregational prayers at the Vali Asr Mosque, and for nearly three decades held classes on the exegesis of the holy Qur’an and the merits of the Ahl al-Bayt.
22 solar years ago, on this day in 1999 AD, the first ever session of the Islamic Urban and Rural Councils was held in Iran and the day was named "Councils’ Day” following nationwide polls to elect representatives to this body, as envisaged by Article 7 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Islam calls for consultation, and in line with the dynamic teachings of Islam, Iran’s constitution guarantees people’s participation at all levels of the society, ranging from the urban and rural councils to the election of parliament members and the president. Even the Leader of the Islamic Revolution is named by the Assembly of Experts which is a body of scholars and jurisprudents, elected through the people’s direct vote, as per the unique system of popular religious rule in Iran, which is more people-oriented than the so-called democracies of the West.
22 solar years ago, on this day in 1999 AD, Zabihollah Safa, the Iranian Persian language expert, researcher and professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran, died in Lubeck, Germany, at the age of 88. Born in Shahmirzad in Mazandaran, his contribution to Iranian studies is seen in his valuable works on the history of Persian literature. His thesis, a comprehensive study of epic narratives in Iran ("Hamaseh Sarai dar Iran”) was later published as a book and illustrated his ability to synthesize a vast range of readings into a coherent manual for teaching. He focused on major literary, philosophic and scientific contributions made by Iranians to civilization at large. His talents also manifested in his journalistic activities as a young man. As early as 1933 he began contributing to the influential journal "Mehr”, and was its chief editor from 1937 to 1941. It is however, for his work as an editor of many classical texts and above all, for his monumental "History of Persian Literature” and his valuable anthology (translated into French in the UNESCO Collection as "Anthologie de la Poésie Persane”) that he is best remembered. He was also a regular contributor to Encyclopaedia Iranica.
13 solar years ago, on this day in 2008 AD, US occupation soldiers massacred 30 Shi’a Muslims in Baghdad’s Sadr City. During its decade-long occupation of Iraq, the US directly or indirectly killed over a million and two hundred thousand Iraqi people.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2013 AD, in central and southern Iraq, US-Saudi backed Takfiri terrorists triggered five car bomb blasts in predominantly Shi’ite Muslim cities and districts, martyring 36 men, women and children, and wounding scores of others.