This Day in History (May 19)
Today is Wednesday; 29th of the Iranian month of Ordibehesht 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 7th of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1442 lunar hijri; and May 19, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1131 lunar years ago, on this day in 311 AH, the renowned Iranian statesman, scientist, and geographer, Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Jeyhani, passed away in Bukhara, where he served as vizier to the Iranian Samanid Dynasty. It was his political acumen that consolidated the Samanid realm in Central Asia and Khorasan (including present-day Afghanistan), following the murder of Ahmad Ibn Ismail, the second ruler and the ascension of the latter’s 8-year old son, Nasr. Poets and historians have eulogized him for his policies that included clemency towards fallen foes. His son and grandson also served as viziers. His lasting fame is indebted to the valuable works he wrote, the most important of which is in the geographical book “al-Masaalek wa’l-Mamalek”.
384 solar years ago, on this day in 1637 AD, Mughal Prince Mohi od-Din Mohammad (later Emperor Alamgir Aurangzeb) married Princess Dilras-Banu Begum, the daughter of Prince Mirza Badi az-Zaman Safavi titled Shahnawaz Khan, a great great-grandson of Shah Ismail 1, the Founder of the Safavid Empire of Iran. As her husband’s chief consort, she wielded considerable influence over him during twenty years of marriage that produced five children, including heir apparent, Mohammad Azam, and the couple’s firstborn – daughter Zeb un-Nisa, who grew into an accomplished poet. Dilras was amongst the highest ranked figures at the Mughal court unlike her husband’s secondary wives, and died a year before his seizure of the empire from his ailing father, Shah Jahan. Aurangzeb always had great respect and admiration for her, commissioning the beautiful mausoleum in Indo-Persian style at Aurangabad over her tomb, known Maqbara-e Bibi (Mausoleum of the Venerable Lady). Aurangzeb never raised monumental edifices during his half-a-century reign, except for the mausoleum of his wife, which in the last years of his life (almost half-a-century after her death), he extensively repaired. He gave her the posthumous title of “Rabia od-Dowrani”, and her mausoleum bears a striking resemblance to the famous Taj Mahal, which his father had built in Agra for his mother, Empress Mumtaz Mahal – also of Iranian origin and Shi’ite Muslim.
362 lunar years ago, on this day in 1080 AH, prominent Iranian Islamic scholar, Seyyed Rafi od-Din Mohammad ibn Seyyed Haidar, popular as Mirza-e Rafi’a Na’ini, passed away in Isfahan and was laid to rest in the Takht-e Foulad Cemetery. He was the teacher of the famous scholar, Allamah Baqer Majlisi. His works include the book titled “Hamla-e Haidari”. He wrote important works on beliefs and philosophy.
372 solar years ago, on this day in 1649 AD, England was declared a Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector who abolished the monarchy and executed King Charles I on charges of treason. For the next eleven years, England was a republic.
259 solar years ago, on this day in 1762 AD, German philosopher, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, was born. He was one of the forerunners of the School of Idealism and was highly influenced by his contemporary, Immanuel Kant. He died in 1814.
173 solar years ago, on this day in 1848 AD, the US war on Mexico ended with imposition of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that forced the defeated Mexicans to cede California, Nevada, Utah and parts of four other states that form the US today. The United States of America, which was the name taken by the 13 New England colonies which rebelled against British rule to declare independence, has pursued a policy of wars, expansionism, massacres and genocide to grow to its present size from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast of the central region of North America. The US is considered one of history’s most repressive entities which pursues a policy of aggression all over the world, and like all other oppressive empires of the past, is not expected to last much longer.
157 solar years ago, on this day in 1864 AD, US novelist and short story writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, died at the age of 60. Among his renowned works is “The House of Seven Gables” and “The Scarlet Letter”.
140 solar years ago, on this day in 1881 AD, Ottoman military officer and 1st President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, who styled himself ‘Ataturk’ (Father of Turks), was reportedly born in Selanik (Salonica or Thessalonica, currently capital of Greek Macedonia, but then part of the Ottoman Empire), in a Domne family, or converts to Islam from Judaism. He did not know the exact day or month of his birth, but favored May 19, since it was the start in 1919 of the war for independence. He joined the military, saw service in Syria, Libya, the Balkans, and Palestine (during First World War), rising to the post of commander-in-chief. He was secretly involved in anti-monarchist cells, was elected to parliament, and played a pivotal role in the transformation of the Ottoman Empire to a republic in 1923, with the capital shifted from Istanbul to Ankara. As president, he abolished the caliphate on March 3, 1924 and then launched a feverish attack on Islamic laws and institutions, forcing the Turkish Muslim people to change their centuries-old writing of Turkish language from the Arabic-Persian alphabet to the Latin script. The goal was to deprive Turks of their Islamic identity and make them culturally subordinate to Europe. Mustafa Kemal, in addition to forcibly replacing the traditional dress of the Turkish people with the European style of dressing, banned the recitation of the Azan or the Call to Prayer from the mosques. These laic measures harmed Turkish Muslims and for several decades made them subservient to the West. Before his death in 1938, he conspired with the French occupiers of Syria to annex the Syrian province of Hatay including the cities of Antakya (Antioch) and Iskenderun (Alexandretta).
131 solar years ago, on this day in 1890 AD, Ho Chi Minh, communist politician and 1st President of Vietnam, was born and named Nguyen Sinh Cung. After mastering Chinese language – a prerequisite to the study of Confucianism – he studied French and left for France to enroll at the French Colonial Administrative School, but was rejected. He decided to travel around the world by working on ships and visited many countries from 1911 to 1917, including the US, where he worked for some years, before returning to France after First World War. From 1919-to-1923 he stayed in Paris, where he joined a group of Vietnamese nationalists, whose petition for recognition of the civil rights of the Vietnamese people in French Indochina to the Western powers at the Versailles Peace Talks, was ignored. The group, citing the language and spirit of the US Declaration of Independence, expected US President Woodrow Wilson to help end French colonial rule in Vietnam and ensure the formation of a nationalist government, but were given a cold shoulder. This rejection radicalized Nguyen, while making him a symbol of the anti-colonial movement at home in Vietnam, and forcing him to travel to Moscow where he joined the communists. He made frequent trips to China, forging ties with the communists, travelling to Hong Kong, Thailand, and India, before returning to Moscow. In 1940, he took the name Ho Chi Minh, meaning “He Who has been enlightened”, and the next year returned to Vietnam to lead the Viet Minh independence movement. His guerrilla forces saw many successful military actions against the French and against the Japanese occupation of Vietnam during World War II. Following the August 1945 Revolution by the Viet Minh, Ho Chi Minh became Premier of the provisional government and issued declaration for independence of Vietnam. Although he convinced Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai to abdicate, and petitioned US President Harry S. Truman to support Vietnam’s bid for independence, citing the Atlantic Charter, he was ignored. He resolved to fight France’s bid to re-impose colonial rule, and following the decisive defeat of the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, made a provisional division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, and the south becoming the State of Vietnam under Emperor Bao Dai, who was soon ousted. The refusal of the South to enter into negotiations with the North about holding nationwide elections in 1956, as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference, eventually led to war breaking out again in 1959. This time, the US intervened and started the catastrophic Vietnam War, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people were massacred by the Americans, who had to finally withdraw in humiliation in 1975, as the two parts of Vietnam became united once again into a single country. Ho Chi Minh died on 2 September 1969 from heart failure at his home in Hanoi, at the age of 79, in the midst of the war. After liberation Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in his honour.
117 solar years ago, on this day in 1904 AD, prominent Indian industrialist of Iranian Zoroastrian origin, Jamshedji Tata, died at the age of 65 in Nauheim, Germany, and was buried in the Parsi Cemetery in Woking, England. Born in Nasvari, Gujarat, in western India, he founded the Tata Group – India’s biggest conglomerate company – and is known as the Father of Indian Industry. Today the Tata Group is among the largest private sector firms in the world. Jamshedpur in Jharkhand state is named after him.
96 solar years ago, on this day in 1925 AD, US civil rights activist, Malcolm X was born as Malcolm Little, and after conversion to Islam, became known as al-Haj Malik ash-Shabazz. A staunch advocate for the rights of African- Americans, he criticized white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential Afro-Americans in history. Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam in 1952 and quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years he was the public face of this controversial group, but disillusionment with its chief, Elijah Muhammad, led him to leave it in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and West Asia, where he performed the Hajj pilgrimage to holy Mecca, he returned to the US, and founded “Muslim Mosque, Inc.” and the “Organization of Afro-American Unity.” On 21st February 1965, he was assassinated by FBI agents as he prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom. A man seated in the front row rushed forward and shot him once in the chest with a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired semi-automatic handguns, hitting him several times. According to the autopsy report, Malcolm X’s body had 21 gunshot wounds to his chest, left shoulder, and both arms and legs, many of them fatal; ten of the wounds were buckshot to his left chest and shoulder from the initial shotgun blasts. Recently his maternal grandson, also named Malcolm Shabazz, was brutally killed in Mexico by US agents for being a dedicated Muslim.
86 solar years ago, on this day in 1935 AD, the British politician and intelligence operative, Thomas Edward Lawrence, died in a driving accident at the age of 47. Born out of wedlock to a baron, and known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, he was a notorious spy whose job was to befriend, deceive and destroy Muslim rulers in Arabia. During the years 1910 to 1914, under guise as a member of an archeological delegation in the countries of Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, he sowed the seeds of sedition among the Arabs and Turks as part of the British policy to disintegrate the Ottoman Empire. It was through his efforts that the artificial country called Jordan was created for Abdullah, the son of the British agent, Sharif Hussain of Hejaz; while another son, Faisal, was first made king of Syria, and four months later when driven out from Damascus, was installed as king of Iraq in order to crush the aspirations of the Shi’ite Muslim majority. Next, when Sharif Hussain was driven out from the Hijaz by the Wahhabi desert brigand from Najd, Abdul-Aziz Aal-e Saud, another artificial state called Saudi Arabia was created, on condition that no objection would be raised to the British plan to create for European Zionists an illegal entity called Israel in Palestine. Lawrence has shamelessly referred to part of these plots during World War I in his book titled: “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”.
85 solar years ago, on this day in 1936 AD, radar was made by the British inventor, Robert Watson-Watt, and was for the first time installed at a British airport. In World War II, radar was considered as an important warning device. Currently radar has numerous applications, both civilian and military.
61 lunar years ago, on this day in 1381 AH, the religious leader and famous political figure of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Abu’l-Qasem Kashani, passed away. He attained the status of Ijtehad at the Najaf Seminary at a young age, simultaneous with his struggles against British colonial rule over Iraq, in the company of other ulema. He was expelled by the British, and on arriving in Iran, he launched his struggle against British colonial infiltration, which led to his imprisonment for several years. Following release, he was elected to the parliament. With Ayatollah Kashani’s support for Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq and the continued struggles of the masses, Iran’s oil industry was nationalized and Mosaddeq was chosen as Prime Minister. But, when the Shah appointed the British stooge, Qawwam os-Saltanah, as the Premier; Ayatollah Kashani issued a statement calling on the people to enter the scene. As a result, the July 21, 1952 uprising took place. The terrified Shah removed Qawwam and Mosaddeq was reinstated as Premier. Following the US-staged coup in 1953 and the fugitive Shah’s return to Iran, his agents put Ayatollah Kashani under surveillance until his death on this day, after his lifelong struggles against domestic despotism and foreign hegemony.
49 lunar years ago, on this day in 1393 AH, the exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Ayatollah Mirza Abu’l-Hussain Sha’rani, passed away at the age of 73. As an authority on Islamic sciences, he was fluent in French, Arabic, and English languages. His works include a 10-volume exegesis of the Holy Qur’an.
43 lunar years ago, on this day in 1399 AH, the prominent Iranian religious scholar and exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani, passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 70. He was involved in the political developments from an early age, and in 1963 was jailed by the Pahlavi regime for participating in the Khordad 15 Uprising (June 5, 1963), following the arrest of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). In the subsequent years till the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he was incarcerated or banished to the country’s remote places. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he was named by the Late Imam as Head of the Revolutionary Council as well as the Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran. In the first round of elections for the Assembly of Experts, he was elected as the Tehran representative for an 8-year term. He was a prolific writer and among his works is an exegesis of several surahs of the Holy Qur’an as well as a book titled “System of Ownership in Islam”.
25 solar years ago, on this day in 1996 AD, prominent scholar Allamah Mohammad Taqi Shushtari – also known as at-Tustari – passed away at the age of 93 after a fruitful life of academic studies, coupled with struggle against despotism, and was laid to rest in his hometown Shushtar in southwestern Iran. Son of Shaikh Mohammad Kazem Shushtari and grandson of the famous Shaikh Ja’far Shushtari, he was born in holy Najaf in Iraq, and at the age of 7, came to his ancestral town Shushtar, along with his family. He studied under his scholarly father and other scholars of repute. In 1935, he had to migrate to Iraq for opposing the forced unveiling of women by the British-installed Pahlavi dictator, Reza Khan. This provided an opportunity for him to continue his higher studies in the famous seminaries of the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. During his 6-year stay in Iraq, he authored the book “Qamous ar-Rejal” (Biographical Dictionary of Hadith Narrators) and later in his life expanded it to fourteen volumes. In 1941, on the removal form power of Reza Khan Pahlavi by his British masters, he returned to Iran and resided in Shushtar where he taught Islamic subjects, in addition to his researches, as well as opposition to dictatorial policies of the Pahlavi regime. He authored many books during his lifetime, including “Qadha’ Amir al-Mominin Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS)” (or Judgments of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), “Al-Akhbar ad-Dakheela” about the various forms of forged and distorted hadiths, “Risalah fi Tawarikh an-Nabi wa’l-Aal” (Treatise on the Histories of the Prophet and his Progeny), and “Bahj as-Sabagha fi Sharh Nahj al-Balagha” a commentary on the famous collection of the Sermons, Letters, and Aphorisms of Imam Ali (AS). He gave his house to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), and in the endowment document, willed that the books must not transferred elsewhere. Accordingly, Astan Qods Razavi has changed part of his house into a library in Shushtar under supervision of the Imam Reza Endowment.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2013 AD, a Russian capsule carrying mice, lizards and other small animals returned to Earth after spending a month in space for what scientists said was the longest experiment of its kind. Fewer than half of the 53 mice and other rodents who blasted off on April 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome survived the flight.