Today is Monday; 6th of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 15th of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1442 lunar hijri; and May 27, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1439 lunar years ago, on this day in 3 AH, the Battle of Ohad was imposed on Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) by the pagan Arabs of Mecca led by Abu Sufyan, at a place outside Medina near Mount Ohad, for avenging the decisive defeat they had suffered a year earlier at Badr. Ohad turned out to be a setback for Muslims, whose ranks were infiltrated by hypocrites. In the initial encounter, the Muslims managed to repel the heavily-armed Arab pagans, but ignoring the instructions of the Prophet the guards posted at the mountain pass, left their positions to join in the seizing of the camp baggage of the fleeing Meccans. At this juncture, one of the infidel commanders, named Khaled bin Waleed, who lay in ambush, burst upon the Muslims, martyring several of them and forcing most of the companions of the Prophet to flee the battlefield. The Prophet himself was injured and lost some of his teeth. However, thanks to the valour of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), the day was saved for the Prophet and for Islam, although in the process the Prophet’s brave uncle, Hazrat Hamza (AS), was martyred by the Abyssinian Wahshi, who was ordered by his mistress, Hind bint Otbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan (mother of Mu’awiyya and grandmother of Yazid), to tear out his victim’s liver and bring it to her for chewing. Thus, without the least doubt, Islam is indebted to the valour of Imam Ali (AS), in whose praise on the Day of the Battle of Ohad the angels were heard chanting: “There is no braver youth than Ali, and no sharper sword than Zu’l-Feqar.”
1439 lunar years ago, on this day in 3 AH, the eminent Islamic poet and preacher, Abu at-Tufail Amer Kan’ani, was born. As a steadfast follower of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), his poems are in praise of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and the blessed Ahl al-Bayt.
1190 lunar years ago, on this day in 252 AH, Seyyed Abdul-Azim al-Hasani, a prominent descendant of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), was martyred in Rayy, where his shrine, in what is now the southernmost suburb of the Iranian capital, Tehran, is a site of pilgrimage for people from all over the world. A pious scholar of repute, he was fifth in descent from the Prophet’s elder grandson and 2nd Infallible Heir, Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS). His genealogy reads: Abdul-Azim Ibn Abdullah Ibn Ali Ibn Hassan Ibn Zayd Ibn Imam Hasan (AS). Born in Medina in the last years of the life of the Prophet’s 7th Infallible Heir, Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS), he had the honour of companionship of the 8th, 9th and 10th Infallible Imams – i.e. Imam Ali ar-Reza, Imam Mohammad al-Jawad, and Imam Ali al-Hadi (peace upon them). He was sent as a missionary to Iran to enlighten the people about the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt. Because of severe persecution of the Prophet’s progeny by the tyrannical Abbasid caliph, Mutawakkel, he carried out his activities with precaution, spending the days in fasting and nights in worship. Often he used to visit the grave of Hamza, a son of the 7th Imam in an orchard outside the city, and willed that he be buried nearby on his death. Among the books authored by him was a collection of the eloquent sermons of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), predating by over one-hundred-and-fifty years the compilation of the “Nahj al-Balagha”.
1169 lunar years ago, on this day in 275 AH, the prominent Iranian Sunni Muslim compiler of hadith, Abu Dawud Sulayman Ibn al-Ash’as Sijistani, passed away in Basra at the age of 73. Born in Sistan, in eastern Iran, he studied in Herat, Balkh, Marv, and Naishapur – the famous centres of learning in Khorasan – before travelling to Rayy and thence to Baghdad, Damascus, Hijaz, and Egypt, to collect hadith. He was primarily interested in jurisprudence, and as a result his collection focuses mostly on narrations of legal nature. Of the 500,000-odd so-called hadith he collected from whomever he encountered, he chose 4,800 as “Sahih” (authentic) for inclusion in his work titled “Sunan Abi Dawud”, which Sunni Muslims regard as the third of their six “canonical” hadith collections, although after due scrutiny modern scholarship amongst the Sunnis has ruled many of his hadith as “weak”. Among his other books is “Kitab al-Marasil”, in which he lists as ‘authentic’ some 600 more hadith. Although he has acknowledged the unsurpassed merits of the Ahl al-Bayt, he did not have any direct access to the Infallible Imams or their disciples, the true repositories of the authentic “Sunnah” and “Sirah” (Practice and Behaviour) of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
689 solar years ago, on this day in 1332 AD, the Muslim historian and historiographer, Abdur-Rahman Ibn Mohammad Ibn Khaldun, was born in Tunis into an affluent Spanish Arab family that had settled in North Africa because of Christian onslaughts. He is regarded as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology, and economics. He travelled widely around Egypt, North Africa and Spain, where the Sultan of Granada sent him on a mission to the Christian King of Castile, Pedro the Cruel. He returned to Egypt, whose Mamluk ruler sent him to negotiate with the fearsome Turkic conqueror, Amir Timur, during the siege of Damascus. In his autobiography, Ibn Khaldun has written on his discussions with Timur, who asked him in detail about North Africa and Spain. Among his many works is a voluminous universal history, but his fame rests on the “Muqaddemah” or Introduction to his History. He died in Cairo in 1406 at the age of 74.
457 solar years ago, on this day in 1564 AD, John Calvin, French pastor and theologian, was burnt alive at the stake at the age of 55 by the Catholic Church on accusations of distorting the Christian Bible. In 1536 he had formally raised his objections in Geneva, Switzerland against the beliefs of the Catholic Church, as part of the Protestant Movement founded earlier by Martin Luther. He set up a council of priests to administer Geneva as per his beliefs which he elaborated in a book, in which he rejected the power of the Pope and the Church. Calvinism, as his belief is known, erred in ascribing predestination to God Almighty, alleging that good or bad deeds committed by human beings have no impact on their fate in afterlife. This wrong belief led many Christians to freely commit all sorts of abominable sins on the false assumption that Jesus will save them in the Hereafter.
318 solar years ago, on this day in 1703 AD, Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, on the estuary of Neva River flowing into the Baltic Sea, a fortnight after he had captured during the Great Northern War what was then the Swedish fortress of Nyenskans in the land called Ingermanland inhabited by the Finnic tribe of Ingrians. He laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the first brick and stone building of the new city, built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia and Swedish prisoners of war. Tens of thousands of serfs died building the city. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to St Petersburg in 1712, although as early as 1704 he had referred to it as his seat of government. Between 1713-to-1728 and from 1732-to-1918, St Petersburg was the capital of Russia. On November 7, 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace, which led to the end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, and transfer of all political power to the Soviets. After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, “the city of three revolutions”, referring to the three major developments in the political history of Russia of the early 20th century. In 1918, its name was changed to Petrograd. On March 12, 1918, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow. On January 26, 1924, five days after Lenin’s death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. During World War II, German forces besieged this city for 872 days, from September 1941 to January 1944. It was one of the longest, most destructive and most lethal sieges of a major city in modern history, resulting in the death of more than one million civilians, mainly from starvation. In 1991, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and end of communist rule, the city’s original name Saint Petersburg was restored. Today it is Russia’s 2nd largest city after Moscow with 5 million inhabitants. It is the most western of Russian cities and a major European cultural centre, and an important port on the Baltic.
194 lunar years ago, on this day in 1248 AH, the scholar Shaikh Mohammad Taqi Isfahani, passed away in Isfahan. A product of the seminary of holy Najaf in Iraq, he was a student of such scholars as Shaikh Ja’far Kashef al-Gheta, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahdi Bahr al-Uloum, and Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin Kazemaini. He groomed at least 300 scholars, and wrote several books including “Hidayat al-Mustarshadin”.
184 solar years ago, on this day in 1837 AD, the Treaty of Tafna was signed by Algerian freedom-fighters led by Sufi scholar Amir Seyyed Abdul-Qader al-Hassani and France, which had invaded Algeria in 1830 to supplant the declining power of the Ottomans – who were preoccupied with the western-supported rebellion in the Province of Yunanistan that led to the emergence of Greece as a new country. As per the treaty, France had control of Oran and Algiers while the remaining two-third of the country was free. In 1839, the French renewed attacks, but met with stiff resistance and by 1842 Abdul-Qader had the upper hand, until the arrival of fresh troops from France and mass massacres of the Muslim people. Following Morocco’s refusal to support him, Abdul-Qader surrendered to the French in 1847 and was sent to France as a prisoner. Years later, he was released, but not allowed to return to Algeria. He went to Syria where he died at the age of 75 years in Damascus, after writing a treatise on philosophy. Algeria finally became independent in 1961 after a post-World War 2 struggle during which the French killed more than one million Muslims.
116 solar years ago, on this day in 1905 AD, during the Russo-Japanese War: The Battle of Tsushima began. Commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle”, it was fought in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan, and was naval history’s only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets, as well as the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo Heihachiro destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had traveled over 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km) to reach the Far East. The 2-day battle effectively ended the war in Japan’s favour. The Russians lost 4,380 killed and 5,917 captured, including two admirals, with a further 1,862 interned. The Japanese lost only three torpedo boats, with 117 men killed and 500 wounded.
111 solar years ago, on this day in 1910 AD, the German bacteriologist and discoverer of the cause of tuberculosis, Robert Koch, died at the age of 67. He conducted research on the reasons behind cholera and anthrax as well. He visited South Africa, Egypt, and India for researches on ailments such as malaria. In 1905, he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
95 solar years ago, on this day in 1926 AD, the prominent Iranian poet, Abdul-Jawad Adib Naishapuri, passed away at the age of 63. He went blind in childhood due to smallpox, but continued to learn sciences enthusiastically and after honing his skills in Arabic literature and other sciences, he started to lecture on these subjects. Gradually, he turned into a skilled poet. Selection of appropriate terms and precise meanings are the strong points of his poetry. His Diwan of poems consists of beautiful verses in Persian and Arabic.
95 solar years ago, on this day in 1926 AD, the uprising of Moroccan Muslims against the Spanish and French colonizers failed. The leader of this uprising, Abdul-Karim Rifi, after initial victories suffered defeats and the colonial powers massacred thousands of Muslims.
91 solar years ago, on this day in 1930 AD, Indian-Iranian lexicographer and critic, Karim Imami, was born in Calcutta, India, which was a frequent destination of his father, a tea merchant from Shiraz. He returned to Iran and studied English literature at University of Tehran, and later at the University of Minnesota in the US. He became a journalist in the early 1950s for Iran’s prime English language daily “Kayhan International”. During the 1960s, he translated contemporary Persian poetry into English. In 1967, he was named editor-in-chief at Franklin Books, where he was instrumental in publication of quality books and training of younger writers and editors. He also founded Soroush Press, the publishing arm of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting – IRIB – (Radio and TV), and established the Zamineh Bookstore in Tehran, a meeting place for writers, intellectuals, and book lovers. In the final decade of his life he was an active contributor to “Motarjem”, an Iranian quarterly dedicated to the translation and translators. He died of leukemia in Tehran in 2005 at the age of 75.
72 solar years ago, on this day in 1949 AD, the Iranian literary figure, researcher, and historian, Allamah Mohammad Qazvini, passed away. Among his services to culture and literature was to prepare photographs and copies of Persian manuscripts in European museums. He has left behind annotations on a number of books, including an introduction to the Shahnamah of Ferdowsi.
57 solar years ago, on this day in 1964 AD, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, died in office in New Delhi at the age of 75. Born in Allahabad, in a Kashmiri Hindu family, he graduated in law from London, and on returning home, started his struggles against Britain after joining the Congress Party. He was arrested several times, and on release carried on his struggle as a disciple of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Following India’s independence, Nehru was elected prime minister, a post he held for 16 years. During his imprisonment, he wrote lengthy letters to his daughter, Indira Gandhi (later prime minister), and after release compiled them in book form under the titles “The Discovery of India” and “Glimpses of World History”, which also deal with the glories of the Islamic civilization and ancient Iranian culture. Nehru was well versed in English, Urdu, Persian and Hindi languages, and was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement when the capitalist west and the communist east were converting world countries into satellite states.
35 solar years ago, on this day in 1986 AD, Palestinian-American philosopher, Isma’il Raji al-Faruqi, was murdered at the age of 65 along with his wife, Lois Lamya, at his home in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, by agents of the Zionist entity. An authority on Islam and comparative religion, he spent several years at al-Azhar University in Cairo, then taught at several universities in North America, including McGill University in Montreal. He was also the founder of the International Institute of Islamic Thought. He wrote over 100 articles for various scholarly journals and magazines in addition to 25 books. Al-Faruqi viewed the existence of Israel as an affront towards the religion of Judaism due to its state ideology of Zionism. He said that the injustice caused by Zionism is such as to necessitate war. He proposed a resolution in which Israel is dismantled and its institutions de-Zionised.
11 solar years ago, on this day in 2009 AD, in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, a terrorist bombing in a mosque at Zahedan left 25 people martyred. Investigations pointed to the hands of the US and the Zionist entity, who are trying to stoke sectarian tensions as part of the plot to divide the Muslims.