This Day in History (May 25)
Today is Tuesday; 4th of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 13th of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1442 lunar hijri; and May 25, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
2606 solar years ago, on this day in 585 BC, the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus – in Asia Minor or what is now western Turkey – made the first known prediction of a solar eclipse. A historically registered eclipse occurred during the savage war between the Lydians and the Medians. The event caused both sides to stop military action and sign for peace.
1248 lunar years ago, on this day in 194 AH, the famous Iranian Sunni Muslim compiler of hadith, Mohammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Bardizbah ibn Bazzabeh Bukhari, was born in the ancient Iranian city of Bukhara in what is now the Republic of Uzbekistan, in a family which before conversion to Islam was either Zoroastrian or Jewish. He started collecting hadith from anyone who could relate. In his late teens, along with his brother and mother, he travelled to Mecca for pilgrimage. After visiting the centres of learning, exchanging information on hadith from over 1,000 persons, and recording more than 600,000 narrations, he returned to his hometown after a 16-year absence. Here he compiled his “al-Jame’ as-Sahih”, which is revered as “Sahih Bukhari” by Sunni Muslims, and contains 7,275 hadith selected as per his inclination. Although he has acknowledged some of the unparalleled merits of the Ahl al-Bayt, he did not visit the rightful heirs of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) or met their disciples for precise information on authentic hadith. It is claimed that it was fear of the wrath of the Abbasid regime that made him omit any hadith related from such an outstanding authority as the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS), but he felt no inhibitions to include in his so-called “Sahih” narrations from dubious persons – even avowed enemies of the Prophet’s Household. In 250 AH he settled in Naishapur in Khorasan, following his expulsion from Bukhara for issuing a weird fatwa against the letter and spirit of the shari’ah that persons drinking the milk of the same cow, goat or donkey, are foster siblings and hence ineligible for marriage with each other. Here he met another Iranian with Sunni inclinations, named Muslim Ibn Hajjaj, who became his student, and eventually collector of a separate book on hadith, known as “Sahih Muslim”. Bukhari died at the age of 62 while on a visit to Khartank, a village near Samarqand.
1035 solar years ago, on this day in 986 AD, the famous Iranian Islamic astronomer and mathematician, Abu’l-Hassan Abdur-Rahman Ibn Amr as-Sufi ar-Raazi, passed away in Shiraz at the age of 83. Born in Rayy, near modern Tehran, he was one of the greatest astronomers and astrologers. He was patronized by Azud od-Dowla Daylami, the ruler of the Persian Shi’a Muslim Buwayhid dynasty of Iran-Iraq-Oman to translate scientific texts from Greek, Pahlavi and other languages into Arabic. As-Sufi was known in medieval Europe as “Azophi”; and today modern scientists have named in his honour the moon crater “Azophi” and the minor planet “12621 Alsufi”. He published his famous book “Kitab al-Kawakeb as-Sabeta” (Book of Fixed Stars) in 964 AD, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures. In the same year he made the earliest recorded observation (from Yemen) of what western scientists today call the “Andromeda Galaxy”; describing it as a “small cloud”. These were the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from the Earth. He also identified over five centuries before Ferdinand Magellan what the West calls the “Large Magellanic Cloud”, which was not seen by Europeans until the Portuguese Sailor’s voyage around the world in the 16th century. As-Sufi ar-Razi observed that the ecliptic plane is inclined with respect to the celestial equator and more accurately calculated the length of the tropical year. He observed and described the stars, their positions, their magnitudes and their colour, setting out his results, constellation by constellation. For each constellation, he provided two drawings, one from the outside of a celestial globe, and the other from the inside (as seen from the earth), and this is another firm proof that in contrast to the Europeans, the Muslims knew the earth as a sphere. As-Sufi also wrote about the astrolabe, finding numerous additional uses for it. He described over 1000 different uses, in areas as diverse as astronomy, astrology, horoscopes, navigation, surveying, timekeeping, the direction of the Qibla (the holy Ka’ba in Mecca), and determination of the timing of the five-times daily prayers, etc. Since 2006, the Astronomy Society of Iran – Amateur Committee (ASIAC) – has been holding an international “Sufi Observing Competition” in his memory. A related work by him is: “Kitab Suwar al-Kawakeb ath-Thamaniya al-Arba’een”.
926 solar years ago, on this day in 1085 AD, Spanish Muslims lost to Alfonso VI of Castile and his army of Christian mercenaries from other parts of Europe, the historic city of Toledo. The Muslims had turned this central Spanish city into a glorious example of Islamic civilization during three-and-a-half centuries of rule, with colleges, mosques, baths, libraries, bazaars and palaces – some of which survive till this day. Known as Toletum to the Romans, it was called Tulaytulah in Arabic and produced many famous scholars, such as Abu Ishaq az-Zarqali, the instrument maker, astrologer, and the leading astronomer of his time, known as Arzachel to medieval Europe – the crater Arzachel on the Moon is named after him. In 1986, Toledo was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its cultural and monumental heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures.
563 solar years ago, on this day in 1458 AD, Sultan Mahmoud Shah I of Gujarat, western India, was born. Known as Mahmoud Begada, he was the most prominent sultan of Gujarat, and was the great-grandson of Ahmad Shah I, the founder of the Muzaffarid dynasty, and of the city of Ahmadabad. He was known to be quite religious and ruled for 43 years. He contacted the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultan of Cairo to form a naval alliance against Portuguese in the Indian Ocean, and it was during his reign the famous Battle of Diu took place against the European marauders. He undertook great many public works in his kingdom, and built a magnificent Jama Mosque in Champaner, which ranks amongst the finest architectural edifices in Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with two tall minarets 30 m tall, 172 pillars and seven mihrabs. Topped with a central dome, the balconies and carved entrance gates have fine lattice work in stone.
531 lunar years ago, on this day in 911 AH, the famous jurisprudent Shaikh Zayn od-Din al-Juba’i al-Ameli, known as “Shaheed Thani” (Second Martyr), was born in Jabal Amel in Lebanon. He is believed to have some connection with Tous in Khorasan, because he occasionally signed his name as “at-Tousi ash-Shami” – the second part pertaining to Greater Syria since Lebanon like Palestine and Jordan is actually a part of Syria. After initial study under his father, he was groomed for some 8 years by the celebrated Shaikh Ali bin Hussain bin Abd al-Aali Muhaqqaq Karki, and by the age of 33 became a Mujtahed. He had also studied in Damascus under Sunni ulema, and became an authority on such texts as “Sahih Bukhari” and “Sahih Muslim”. He visited Egypt to study medicine, geometry, prosody and logic from different teachers. He performed the Hajj pilgrimage and visited Bayt al-Moqaddas, in addition to travelling to Iraq for the pilgrimage to the shrines of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt. During a visit to Istanbul he had a lively discussion with the Chief Qazi of the state, Mohammad bin Mohammad Qazizadah ar-Roumi, to whom he presented a treatise titled “Ten Knowledges” that greatly impressed the latter. He was permitted to teach at the Nooriyah Islamic School in Ba’lbek, where he taught the five schools of Islamic jurisprudence, that is, Ja’fari, Hanafi, Shafei, Maliki and Hanbali. Apart from proficiency in jurisprudence, he was well versed in theology, philosophy, Gnosis, medicine and astronomy. A man of piety, known for his austere way of life, his students have recorded in his biography that he maintained his family by selling wood that he cut during the nights, and then sat to teach during the day. Some pseudo ulema adverse to Islamic unity, conspired against him, labeled false accusations, and complained to the Ottoman Sultan. In mid Ramadhan 965 AH, he was brutally beheaded on his way to see the Sultan, and a shrine was built by Turkmens on the site as they realised his stature. His assassin was killed on the Sultan’s orders. He is the author of several books, but his greatest work is the commentary he wrote on the jurisprudential manual “Lum’at-ad-Dimashqiyya” (The Damascene Glitter) of the First Martyr, Mohammad Jamal od-Din al-Makki al-Ameli, titled “ar-Rawdhat-al-Bahiyah ft Sharh al-Lum’at-ad- Dimashqiyya” (The Beautiful Garden in Interpreting the Damascene Glitter).
360 solar years ago, on this day in 1661 AD, King Charles II of England married Portuguese princess Catherina Braganza. India’s city of Mumbai, made up of seven islands, was given by Portugal to Charles as dowry for his wife. Known as Heptanesia or Cluster of Seven Islands to the Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150 CE, the islands were ruled by successive indigenous dynasties before becoming part of the Khalji Sultanate of Delhi and subsequently the Muzaffaird Sultanate of Gujarat. From 1429 onwards, the islands were a source of contention between Gujarat and the Bahmani Sultanate of Iranian origin of the Deccan. In 1535 they were occupied by the Portuguese, and following the British takeover were the target of constant raids by the Abyssinian Muslim admirals of the Mughals and then the Marathas. By 1845, the seven islands coalesced into a single landmass called Bombay by the Hornby Vellard Project via large scale land reclamation. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea. Today, it is the commercial capital of India and has evolved into a global financial hub, in addition to being the seat of the thriving Bollywood film industry. It has a population of 14 million of which 25 percent are Muslims. The city is also home to the largest population of Zoroastrians in the world, numbering about 80,000, who are known as Parsi and whose ancestors had migrated from Iran. This cosmopolitan city is also home to hundreds of thousands of Muslims of Iranian origin, including the Yazdis who came last century and run the restaurant and tea business.
218 solar years ago, on this day in 1803 AD, the American author and thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. 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. He was particularly captivated by the beauty of the lyrics of Hafez. Comparing Hafiz with some leading Western poets, Emerson pointed out Hafez’s more mystical attitude towards nature, saying: “Hafez is the prince of Persian poets, and in his extraordinary gift adds to some o the attributes of Pindar, Ansacreon, Horace, and Burns the insight of a mystic, that sometimes affords a deeper glance at Nature than belongs to either of those bards. He accounts all topics with an easy audacity.” Emerson died in 1882.
175 solar years ago, on this day in 1846 AD, Albanian Muslim poet and writer, Na’eem Frasheri, was born in Frasher in Albania. A prominent figure of the Albanian National Awakening he is widely regarded as the national poet of Albania. His father was a Bey from Frasher, and he hailed from a family with long connections to the Bektashi Shi’ite Muslim Sufi order, founded by the 13th century Iranian mystic, Haji Bektashi Vali of Naishapour, who had settled in Anatolia or what is now Turkey during the days of Seljuqid Sultanate of Roum. Frasheri’s earliest writings were poetry and the very first poems he wrote were in Persian. In all, he authored twenty-two major works: four in Turkish, one in Persian, two in Greek and fifteen in his native Albanian. His patriotic poems and highly popular lyric poetry were strongly influenced by Persian literature. He also translated Homer’s Iliad, and wrote articles on didactics and Islamic practices. Through his writings, Frasheri exerted a strong influence on Albanian literature and society. He passed away at the age of 54 in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which he served as an official in the ministry of culture. Today, the government of Albania has depicted his picture on the obverses of the Albanian 500 leke banknote and the 200 leke banknote. He was survived by his only son, Mahdi Frasheri, who twice served as prime minister of Albania, before and during World War 2.
122 solar years ago, on this day in 1899 AD, Bengali poet, musician, writer and revolutionary, Qazi Nazr ul-Islam, was born in what is now India’s Bengal state. He studied the Holy Qur’an, Hadith, Islamic philosophy, theology, and Arabic literature. On his father’s death, he replaced him as the caretaker of the local mosque, where he also served as the muezzin or the Caller to Prayer. Attracted to folk theatre, he learned to act, compose music, and write poems, being influenced by the famous Bengali poet, Rabindernath Tagore. He also learned Sanskrit. At the age of 18 he joined the British Army and was posted to Karachi in what is now Pakistan where he learnt Persian poetry and became deeply impressed by the classical Iranian poets, Mowlana Roumi and Hafez Shirazi. Nazr ul-Islam began to use Persian vocabulary in Bengali and wrote ghazals for the first time in this language. On leaving the army, he settled in Calcutta and joined the Bengali Muslim Literary Society, where he started writing plays and books. He grew resentful of British colonialism, as is reflected in his works, the most famous of which is “Bidrohi” (The Rebel) – a masterpiece of Bengali literature. He encouraged the people to rise up against the British, for which he was accused of sedition and jailed. On independence and partition of the Subcontinent, he remained in Indian Bengal. In 1972, following the secession of Pakistan’s eastern wing and it’s renaming as Bangladesh he migrated to Dhaka and was honoured as the National Poet. His poetry and music espoused Indo-Islamic renaissance and spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. His Bengali poems on Islam and social justice have been translated into modern Persian. He died at the age of 77 in 1976 and was buried on the grounds of the Central Mosque of Dhaka University.
119 lunar years ago, on this day in 1323 AH, the prominent Islamic scholar, Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Taha, passed away at the age of 83. Born in holy Najaf in Iraq, he acquired knowledge under the prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli. He was a polymath in theology, jurisprudence, hadith, and exegesis of the Holy Qur’an. He has left behind several books, including an annotation on “Ma’alem al-Osoul”.
104 lunar years ago, on this day in 1338 AH, Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Taqi Shirazi issued the fatwa for jihad against the British invaders of Iraq, following the occupation of Basra and Baghdad during World War I. Known as the “Revolution of the 1920s”. The edict united Iraqis, who initially inflicted defeats on the British army, until crushed by the superior fire power of the invaders. Earlier in 1329 AH, following the invasion of northern Iran by Russian forces and the killing of Iranian Muslims, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Shirazi, who had not yet migrated to Iraq, issued a fatwa to the effect that it is an obligation to resist the Russian aggressors. In 1332 AH, when Britain and its allies launched Word War 2 against the Ottoman Empire, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Shirazi, along with other prominent scholars of Iraq, issued statements about the obligation of jihad against the invading forces. Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Shirazi’s migration to Karbala facilitated coordination of the local ulema with the ulema of Najaf, as well as contacts with nomads for resistance against the occupiers. The British martyred him through poisoning, and exiled to Iran the other two prominent combatant scholars, Sheikh Kashef al-Gheta and Sheikh Mohammad Khalesi. They then installed in Baghdad an imported king – Faisal, a son of the British agent of Hejaz, Sharif Hussain.
100 solar years ago, on this day in 1921 AD, the 93-day “black cabinet” of Premier Seyyed Zia od-Din Tabatabaie was dissolved on the orders of the last Qajarid king of Iran, Ahmad Shah. Born in Shiraz in 1888, Zia od-Din developed close relations with the British colonialists, becoming editor of the newspaper “Ra’d” (Thunder) that was closed down by the government after which he started a new daily called “Barq” (Lightning). He imposed himself as prime minister on Ahmad Shah through a coup staged by the Cossack Brigade Chief Reza Khan Mirpanj – who would carry out the final coup d’etat in 1925 to install himself as the first Pahlavi king on the orders of the British. After his political career ended in Iran, Zia od-Din was sent into exile in British occupied Palestine, and later with British backing was hired as a senior consultant by the government of Afghanistan, but was unable to take up the post. He died at the age of 80 in Tehran. After his death, the ownership of his house was transferred to the Pahlavi regime’s dreaded espionage and torture agency “SAVAK”, and was converted into Evin Prison.
80 solar years ago, on this day in 1941 AD, some 5,000 people drowned in a storm at the delta of the Ganges River in India.
62 lunar years ago, on this day in 1380 AH, the famous Source of Emulation (Marja’), Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Borujerdi, passed away in the holy city of Qom at the age of 88 and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema Ma’soumah (SA). Born in Boroujerd in a scholarly family descended from Imam Hasan Mujtaba (AS), the elder grandson and second Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), he completed his higher studies at the Seminary of holy Najaf, under prominent ulema such as Akhound Mullah Mohammad Kazem Khorasani, Ayatollah Shaikh osh-Shari’ah Isfahani, and Allamah Seyyed Kazem Yazdi. On his return to Iran, he became head of the Qom Seminary. A pious scholar well versed in different Islamic sciences, he promoted the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt abroad by sending Seyyed Muhaqqiqi to Hamburg, Germany, Aqa-e-Shari’at to Pakistan, al-Faqihi to Medina and Seyyed Musa as-Sadr to Lebanon. He established cordial relations with Mahmoud Shaltut, the Grand Shaikh of Egypt’s al-Azhar Seminary. Together, the two scholars set up in Cairo the “Centre for Proximity among Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence”. Shaltut issued a famous fatwa accepting the Shi’a creed as one of the recognised schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi opposed the British-installed and American-backed Pahlavi regime’s policies as “agrarian destruction.” In his view, the confiscations of large concentrations of landholdings disrupted the fabric of rural life and eroded religious institutions. He groomed a large number of scholars such as Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Reza Golpayegani, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani, Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpayegani, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hussaini Beheshti, etc. He wrote several books and treatises.
58 solar years ago, on this day in 1963 AD, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, thirty African states met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The founders of this organization were President Jamal Abdun-Naser of Egypt, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea. On July 2002, the Organization of African Unity was renamed The African Union. It has 53 members and is headquartered in Ethiopia.
36 solar years ago, on this day in 1985 AD, the Meghna River delta of Bangladesh was hit by a tropical cyclone and storm surge, which killed approximately 10,000 people and 500,000 head of cattle, while hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless.
Khordad 4, is designated as Day of Resistance of Dezful, in view of the steadfastness of the people of this southwestern border city against the constant barrage of missiles and artillery shelling by the invading army of the repressive Ba’th minority regime of Saddam throughout the 8 years of the war imposed by the US. In the initial months of the Ba’thist aggression alone, the city was targeted with 200 missiles and shelled by artillery as many as 20,000 times, but the people continued their normal life, and became model of resistance for the Iranian nation.