Today is Thursday; 16th of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 23rd of the Islamic month of Ramadhan 1442 lunar hijri; and May 6, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
Nearly a millennium-and-a-half lunar years ago, on the eve of this day, God Almighty sent down the Holy Qur’an on the heart of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) from the Preserved Tablet or the "Lowh al-Mahfouz”, as the final heavenly scripture for all mankind with the universal message of Islam, as is evident by the ayah: "Indeed, We sent it down on the Grand Night (Laylat-al-Qadr).” This was the first stage of the revelation, although over the next 23 years of the Prophet’s mission, the entire text of the Holy Qur’an was gradually revealed to mankind.
1222 lunar years ago, on this day in 220 AH, founder of the short-lived Tulunid Dynasty of Egypt and later Syria, Ahmad Ibn Tulun, was born in Baghdad. His father, Tulun, was a Turkic slave, sent as part of tribute from the governor of Bukhara to the Abbasid caliph, Ma’mun. The Abbasids used to recruit Turkic slaves to serve as military officers. Ahmad Ibn Tulun received his military training in Samarra, the new Abbasid capital, where he was appointed commander of the special forces of the tyrannical caliph, Mutawakkil. After serving in military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire in Tarsus, he gained the favour of the caliph, Musta’in, and in the reign of the next caliph, Mu’taz, he was sent as governor to Egypt. Since, the existing capital of Egypt, al-Fustat, was too small to accommodate his armies, he founded a new city nearby called Madinat-al-Qatta’i (or Quartered City), to serve as his capital. It was laid out in the style of grand cities of Iran, including a large public square, a palace, and a large ceremonial mosque, which was named after Ibn Tulun. This city was razed in 905 AD on the fall of the Tulunid Dynasty, and only the mosque has survived. Ibn Tulun soon asserted his independence from the Baghdad caliphate by minting coins in his name and seizing control of large parts of Syria. He defeated an Abbasid army sent against him. He died after 17 years in power, but two decades later, the inefficient rule of his son and grandsons brought about the collapse of the dynasty and re-imposition of Abbasid rule on Egypt.
897 solar years ago, on this day in 1124 AD, Turkic Emir of Aleppo, Balak Noor od-Dowla, who was a thorn in the side of the Crusader invaders, was killed in battle. Son of Bahram bin Artuq, his name "Balak” means "fish implicating elusion”. He was one of the chiefs of the Doger tribe of the Oghuzz, who arrived in Syria from the steppes of Central Asia, along with the Seljuq Turks. Nephew, close-confidant and son-in-law of Ilghazi, the ruler of Mardin and parts of al-Jazira area of Iraq, in addition to Aleppo, he served in many campaigns against the Crusaders, and gained fame due to his capture of Jocelin of Edessa in 1122, and Baldwin II, the self-styled King of the usurper Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The following year, he penetrated Eastern Anatolia and in 1124 after a successful attack on Edessa, was killed when a stray arrow struck his throat. Despite his success against the Crusaders, Balak was a person of dubious character, and had expelled the Shi’ite Muslim of Aleppo from their homes and hearths during his brief rule.
494 solar years ago, on this day in 1527 AD, German and Spanish troops under Charles V began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance. Libraries were destroyed, Pope Clement VII was captured and thousands were killed.
492 solar years ago, on this day in 1529 AD, the Timurid ruler of Kabul, Zaheer od-Din Mohammad Babar, after having conquered the Delhi Sultanate at the decisive Battle of Panipat in 1526 and routing the Rajput chiefs in the Battle of Khanwa in 1527, completed the conquest of Hindustan or Northern India by defeating the joint army of the Eastern Afghan Confederacy and the Sultan of Bengal, at the junction of the Ghagra and Ganges Rivers. A protégé of Shah Ismail Safavi of Iran, Babar thus established the Moghal Empire in the Subcontinent, which reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb by 1700, before gradual breakup and final abolishment by the British invaders of India in 1857.
188 lunar years ago, on this day in 1254 AH, the jurisprudential encyclopedia, "Jawaher al-Kalaam”, was completed in 44 volumes after 27 years of research by the prominent scholar Shaikh Mohammad Hassan an-Najafi in holy Najaf Iraq in the early morning hours of the Grand Night of Qadr. It is a comprehensive and discursive work on Imamiyya fiqh, and is an extended exposition of "Shara’e al-Islam” written centuries earlier by Muhaqqiq al-Hilli. It is taught till this day at seminaries in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, etc.
165 solar years ago, on this day in 1856 AD, Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist psychiatrist was born. He conducted research on mental disorders, and presented new theories on the root cause of psychological ailments. He believed that the source of human thoughts and acts is the unconscious mind and many of mental disorders are caused by suppressed inclinations and tendencies, especially in childhood. Freud is thus called Father of Psychoanalysis. Among his books are "The Interpretation of Dreams”, and "The Future of an Illusion”.
164 solar years ago, on this day in 1857 AD, the British East India Company disbanded the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry whose soldier Mangal Pandey had earlier revolted against the British and is considered to be the first casualty of the north Indian uprising against colonial rule. Pandey had attacked with sword and then shot the British officer, following dissatisfaction among the Indian soldiers against the colonialists. The British brutally suppressed the uprising of the Indian people with heavy loss of life, and massacres of both Hindus and Muslims.
162 solar years ago, on this day in 1859 AD, German biologist and scientist, Alexander Humboldt, died at the age of 90. He was born in Berlin and travelled to Asia and the Americas to conduct extensive research. His studies mainly revolve round discovery of terms of Earth’s evolution. The Humboldt Current is named after him.
110 solar years ago, on this day in 1911 AD, Zabihollah Safa, the Iranian Persian language expert, researcher and professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at University of Tehran, was born in Shahmirzad in Mazandaran. His contribution to Iranian studies is seen in his comprehensive works on the history of Persian literature. His thesis, a 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 a regular contributor to Encyclopaedia Iranica. He died on April 29, 1999 in Lubeck, Germany.
71 solar years ago, on this day in 1950 AD, Belgian biologist and author, Maurice Maeterlinck, died at the age of 87. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1911. He has left behind a large number of books, including "The Blue Bird”, which is translated to a number of languages. Among his works, mention can also be made of "The Life of the Bee”, "The Life of the Ant”, and "Wisdom and Destiny”.
57 solar years ago, on this day in 1964 AD, Ayatollah Ruhollah Kamalvand Khorramabadi, passed away at the age of 64 in his hometown Khorramabad and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema al-Ma’soumah (SA) in the holy city of Qom. He was a classmate of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), and after attaining ijtehad had spent the last fourteen years of his life in grooming students in his hometown, where he revived the Islamic seminary.
51 solar years ago, on this day in 1970 AD, Badi’ oz-Zamaan Foruzaanfar, the famous scholar of Persian literature, Iranian linguistics and culture, and poet, passed away at the age of 66. Named Ziya Boshruwaiyh at birth, he was an expert on the works of Mowlana Jalal od-Din Balkhi Rumi, the famous mystic/poet. As a professor at Tehran University, he groomed such notable scholars as Mehrdad Avesta, Perviz Natel Khanlari, Zabihollah Safa, Ehsan Yarshater, Abdul-Hussain Zarrinkoub, Amir Hossein Aryanpour, Mohammad-Amin Riahi, Ja’far Shahidi, and William Chittick. His critical edition of Diwan-e Shams (in 10 volumes) is the best edition of the book available to date. The first critical edition of Mowlana’s "Fihi ma Fihi” was also done by Forouzaanfar, which is now well known in the West thanks to the selective translation of A. J. Arberry.
50 lunar years ago, on this day in 1392 AH, the famous exegesis of the holy Qur’an titled "Tafsir al-Mizan” was completed in the dawn hours of the Grand Night of Qadr by Allamah Seyyed Mohammad Hussain Tabatabaie of Iran in Arabic in 20 volumes, after 18 years of research and scholastic study. This unique exegesis focuses on various topics such as philosophical, academic, historical, social and ethical – wherever the need arises in explaining the meanings of God’s Revealed Words in the light of authentic sayings from Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and the Infallible Imams of his household.
22 solar years ago, on this day in 1999 AD, Iranian poet and scholar Mohammad Ali Mardani passed away at the age of 77. Born in Khomein, he was a child prodigy, composing his first marsiya or elegy on the tragedy of Karbala at the age of 10. He was a regular reciter at the Hussainiyas commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Husain (AS). He established an association of religious poets in Khomein, as a result of which he was targeted by the Godless Pahlavi regime, whose agents burnt down his house. He shifted to Tehran and set up a similar association in the eastern part of the capital. Following the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, his talents flowered and were appreciated. He became active in the Council of Poets at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and Cultural Department of the Islamic Propagation Organisation. During the 8-year war (1989-88) imposed on Iran by the US through Saddam, he served at the warfronts and suffered injuries. As a devotee of the Prophet and the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, he composed a wide variety of poems, which were published in the form of several books, such as "Ashura Literature”, "Along with the Caravan of Love”, and "Faith Strengthened”.
20 solar years ago, on this day in 2001 AD, Mohammad Dashti, the prominent Iranian researcher and an authority on "Nahj al-Balagha” (Highway of Eloquence) the famous collection of Sermons, Letters and Aphorisms of the Commander of the Faith, the Leader of the Pious, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), passed away at the age of 50 and was laid to rest in Qom in the holy mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema Ma’souma (peace upon her). Born in Mazandaran, he studied at the seminary of holy Qom under Ayatollah Hashem Amoli, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, and Ayatollah Ali Mishkini, mastering jurisprudence, philosophy, theosophy and other branches of Islamic sciencies while still in his twenties. He then started writing books and established the "Amir al-Momineen Research Foundation” where in cooperation with several research scholars, he published in 15 volumes "Statements of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt”, the 15-Volume "Biography of Imam Ali (AS)”, and the 14-Volume "Analysis of the Political History of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt”, and the 4-volume Epistemology and Documented Sources of Nahj al-Balagha”. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he fully involved himself in preaching and delivering lectures at universities for the enlightenment of youths.