This Day in History
Today is Saturday; 8th of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 17th of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1442 lunar hijri; and May 29, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1648 solar year ago, on this day in 363 AD, the Battle of Ctesiphon occurred between the armies of the Sassanid King Shapur II and the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate (who renounced Christianity and reverted to paganism). It was fought outside the walls of the Persian capital Ctesiphon (Mada’en, near Baghdad), and was an unsuccessful European attempt to seize Iraq for possible infiltration into the Iranian Plateau and domination of the east – like Alexander of Macedonia. The battle was a Roman tactical victory, although Julian, who failed to take Ctesiphon and fled when the Iranian army regrouped for counterattack (equipped with war elephants from the Indian satrapies), was killed in the subsequent Battle of Samarra on June 26. The treaty that followed, forced his successor Jovian, to cede five provinces to the Iranians and make a pledge against interfering in the affairs of Armenia. The great success for Shapur II – known as Dhu’l-Aktaaf or Broad-Shouldered to the Arabs for his conquest years earlier of Yamama in central Najd in the desert interior of the Arabian Peninsula – is represented in the rock-carving in Bishapur near Kazeroun in Fars Province, where under the hooves of the Persian king’s horse lies the body of a Roman enemy (i.e. Emperor Julian), as a supplicant Roman (Emperor Jovian), begs for peace.
1437 lunar years ago, on this day in 5 AH, the Battle of Khandaq or Ditch, also known as the Battle of Ahzaab or Confederates, which a 10,000-strong joint force of pagan Arabs and Israelites had imposed upon Muslims by laying siege to Medina as part of the plot to kill Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), ended in decisive victory for Islam, thanks to the valour of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). To defend the city against the mighty horde led by Abu Sufyan, the archenemy of Islam, the Muslims dug a ditch around the sensitive parts of Medina on the suggestion of Salman Farsi, the Prophet’s Iranian companion. When the joint Arab-Israelite force arrived, it was surprised to see a ditch around Medina, and decided to besiege the city in order to break the will of the Muslims. As days passed and no breakdown of morale occurred in Medina, the fearsome Arab pagan warlord, Amr ibn Abduwad, along with some of his accomplices, leapt his horse across the ditch at its narrowest point and challenged the terrified Muslims to personal combat. Except for Imam Ali (AS), none of the companions of the Prophet dared to rise up against this veritable giant who had a nasty reputation of physical strength. A duel took place, and the Imam, despite receiving a wound on his forehead, knocked out Amr to the ground. At this moment, the fallen foe, turned out to be a coward, and spat at the Imam in a bid to avoid certain death. At this insult, Imam Ali (AS) gently withdrew to allow his emotions to cool down so that personal feelings do not mix with pure and sincere jihad in the way of God. The Arab infidel rose to his feet and renewed the life-and-death struggle, but this time the flashing sword of Imam Ali (AS), the famous double-bladed Zul-Feqar, made short work of the opponent who fell down dead to the ground. He then scattered the companions of Amr, and this valorous feat sent shivers down the spine of the Arab-Israelite hordes, making them break ranks and flee. The Prophet expressed the famous hadith this day: “The Stroke of Ali on the Day of Khandaq is superior to the worship of mankind and jinn.”
1235 lunar years ago, on this day in 207 AH, Abu Salt al-Harawi, the loyal servant and companion of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), passed away at the age of 45 and was laid to rest in the environs of holy Mashhad, where a shrine stands today and is a site of pilgrimage. Born in the holy city of Medina in an Iranian family from the Khorasani city of Herat, as is indicated by his surname ‘Harawi”, his name was Abdus-Salaam, the son of Saleh bin Sulayman bin Ayoub. He had the honour of meeting Imam Reza (AS) in Medina, and became a loyal disciple to him, never separating until the 8th Imam’s martyrdom in Tous, Khorasan. He also holds the honour of being a narrator of Hadith from Imam Reza (AS). He has reported on the matchless virtues of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt and travelled over Hijaz, and to Yemen, Basra, Kufa, and through Khorasan to report narrations. Another of his virtues was that he used to debate the Murji’ya, the Jahmiya and the Qadariya sects regarding the genuine teachings of Islam. Aba Salt was the lone person at the side of the 8th Imam on his martyrdom through poisoning by the Abbasid caliph Ma’moun. After the Imam’s martyrdom, he was imprisoned by Ma’moun and escaped from the prison following the miraculous appearance of the 9th Imam Mohammad Taqi (AS), after he had supplicated to God for release. According to the famous bibliographer an-Najashi he had compiled a book on the martyrdom of the 8th Imam titled “Maqtal ar-Reza”.
1185 lunar years ago, on this day in 257 AH, the Godless Ali bin Mohammad, a person of obscure origin and said to be a descendant of slaves, who styled himself Sahib az-Zanj or Leader of the black-skinned people of East African origin, entered the Iraqi port city of Basra, after his sedition met with failure in Bahrain, and launched a general massacre of the populace, burning entire localities including the Jame’ Mosque, where he killed the eminent grammarian Abbas bin Faraj Riyyashi while in prayer. He is said to have lived for a while in the Abbasid capital, Samarra, where he mixed with some of the influential slaves of Caliph Muntasir and saw the deep financial discrimination among Muslim citizens as a result of state policy. He then moved to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain, where he pretended to be Shi’ite or follower of the household of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), in order to rouse the people into rebellion against the caliphate. His following grew so large that land taxes were collected in his name, but the rebellion eventually failed, and he relocated to Basra. Here he claimed himself to be a Kharijite or renegade from Islam and started collecting around him the bonded labourers of the marshlands. Soon, supported by the Arab Bedouin as well as black-skinned people, he styled himself Emir and embarked on plunder, death and destruction. His rebellion, which coincided with the secession of Egypt by Ahmad ibn Toloun and Yaqoub bin Laith Saffar’s uprising in Iran, lasted 14 years, during which he seized southern Iraq up to Wasset and parts of Iran’s Khuzestan, defeating several armies sent by the Abbasid caliphs, until he was defeated and killed in 267 AH. He left a trail of destruction and famine, with agricultural lands desolate and as many as half-a-million people killed. It is interesting to note that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), prophesied the revolt of Saheb az-Zanj two centuries earlier, citing Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) as his source of information, as is evident from the following passage in Sermon 127 of the Nahj al-Balaghah:
913 solar years ago, on this day in 1108 AD, the Battle of Ucles was fought in Spain resulting in the resounding victory of the al-Moravid troops under the command of Tamim ibn Yusuf over an alliance of Christians of the kingdom of Castile and Leon under the command of Prince Sancho Alfonsez. A great number of Christians were killed including Alfonsez.
568 solar years ago, on this day in 1453 AD Constantinople was taken after a 53-day siege by the Ottoman Sultan, Mohammad II (known as al-Fateh or the Conqueror), thus ending Byzantine or the Eastern Roman Empire. He set out to revitalize the city, renamed it Islambol (today’s Istanbul), and made it the capital of his empire. The first decree issued by him was security and freedom of the residents who were almost all Christians. Hours later, he rode to the Hagia Sofia to proclaim the Islamic creed, converting the grand cathedral into an imperial mosque. When he stepped into the ruins of the Boukoleon, the Palace of the Caesars, built over a thousand years before by Theodosius II, he recited the famous Persian couplet of the Iranian poet, Shaikh Sa’di:
“The spider weaves the curtains in the palace of the Caesars;
“The owl calls the watches in the towers of Afrasiyab.”
He began to build the Grand Bazaar, and also constructed during this period was Topkapı Palace, which served as the official residence of the Ottoman sultans for the next four hundred years. The city, built by Rome’s first Christian Emperor, Constantine I, on the coastlines of Bosporus Strait was thus transformed from a bastion of Christianity to a symbol of Islamic culture.
568 solar years ago, on this day in 1453 AD, the brave young Ottoman commander, Hassan of Ulubatlı, who was instrumental in hoisting the Muslim flag on the ramparts of the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, achieved martyrdom in the process. Born in the small village of Ulubath (near Karacabey) in the province of Bursa, the 25-year old Hassan, after performing the Fajr Prayer on the last day of the 53-day siege, was the first to climb the wall of the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, as the Ottoman military band started to play an Islamic song. Armed with only a scimitar, and carrying a shield and Ottoman flag, Hassan was closely followed by thirty of his friends, scaling the wall under showers of arrows, stones, and spears of the Greek defenders. He reached the top and placed the flag, which he defended until his 12 remaining friends arrived. After that he collapsed with 27 arrows still in his body. On seeing the Ottoman flag on the ramparts, the Muslim troops surged ahead with renewed vigor, while the Christian defenders lost heart, until Sultan Mohammad conquered the city.
192 solar years ago, on this day in 1829 AD, the English chemist and physicist, Humphrey Davy, died at the age of 51. His research led him to separate sodium, potassium, calcium, barium, and magnesium from other elements, and this was considered a major achievement in Europe, although Islamic scientists had already accomplished this a thousand years earlier. He also founded the science of electrochemistry.
179 lunar years ago, on this day in 1263 AH, the eminent scholar, Seyyed Ibrahim Karbalai, passed away in the holy city of Karbala in Iraq at the age of 49. Born in Iran, after preliminary studies at his homeland, he left for Iraq, where in holy Karbala he spent the rest of his life, studying and lecturing on Islamic sciences. Among the books remaining from this Islamic scholar, mention can be made of “Dala’el al-Ahkaam”, and “Treatises on Hajj Pilgrimage”.
156 lunar years ago, on this day in 1286 AH, the prominent scholar Seyyed Mohammad Quli Kintoori passed away near Lucknow in northern India. Scion of a scholarly family from Naishapur in Khorasan, Iran, which had migrated to India and settled in Barabankavi and the town of Kintoor, he is the author of “Burhan as-Sa`adah”, and “Taqlib al-Maka’ed”, which are refutations of the 7th and 12th Chapters respectively of the seditious book of Shah Abdul-Aziz Dehlavi against the beliefs of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) titled “Tohfeye- Ithna Ashariyyah”. He served in the judicial branch as a civil servant of the court of law, and presided as judge at the High Court of Meerut, where he authored the treatise “Adalat al-Alawiyya” on the exemplary judgements of Imam Ali (AS), the first Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He also authored the book “Thathir al-Mu’minin an Najasat al-Mushrikin”. He strove to implement the Imami legal system in the kingdom of Awadh ruled by a family of Naishapur Seyyeds of Iranian origin, and adopted the code of governmental laws of the erstwhile Qotb Shahi kingdom of Golkandah-Haiderabad in the Deccan or southern India, ruled by an Iranian family from Hamedan. Mohammad Quli Kintoori was the father of the celebrated Ayatollah Seyyed Hamed Hussain Musavi the author of the famous book “Abaqaat al-Anwaar” on the merits of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, as mentioned in the holy Qur’an by God Almighty and the Hadith.
114 solar years ago, on this day in 1907 AD, the Persian newsletter “Sour-e Israfeel” started publication in Tehran. The owner was Mirza Jahangir Khan, titled “Sour-e Israfeel”, and its chief-editor Ali Akbar Dehkhoda. It was launched to promote the Constitutional Movement and to highlight the problems of the lower strata of the society. It started as a weekly newsletter and became a daily, but after only 32 editions ceased publication because of government pressures.
87 solar years ago, on this day in 1934 AD, the Majlis or parliament of Iran passed a resolution for establishing Tehran University made up of several colleges.
68 solar years ago, on this day in 1953 AD, Mount Everest, the highest pinnacle of the world, was scaled by Edmund Hillary of Britain and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal. The altitude of Mount Everest is 8848 meters and it is situated in Nepal in the massive Himalayan Mountain Range.
32 solar years ago, on this day in 1989 AD, the Iranian Islamic scholar, Ayatollah Mir Seyyed Ali Fani Isfahani, passed away at the age of 74. He studied in his hometown Isfahan, where after attaining the status of Ijtehad; he left for holy Najaf in Iraq, where he stayed for 30 years lecturing on theology, jurisprudence, exegesis of Holy Qur’an, and ethics. He returned to Iran in 1973 and until his death 16 years later, he used to lecture in the seminary of holy Qom. He has left behind more than 80 books, on various topics, including “Exegesis of Surah Fateha”, and “Arb’ain Hadith”.
15 solar years ago, on this day in 2006 AD, in Indonesia a boiling mud flow began from a volcano in Sidoarjo, east Java. By 2007 it covered 1.6 square miles destroying 4 villages and 25 factories and forced 16,000 people to leave their homes. The mud flow was triggered by the drilling operations for gas of Lapindo Brantas, an energy company whose major shareholder was the family-owned Bakrie Group, which called it a natural disaster and tried to sell Lapindo to obscure offshore buyers. In February 2007 engineers began dropping large cement balls into the crater in an attempt to stem the flow. In 2008 international scientists said they are almost certain that the mud volcano was caused by faulty drilling of a gas exploration well.
7 solar years ago, on this day in 2014 AD, in Syria Takfiri terrorist outfits which mischievously style themselves as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), kidnapped some 153 schoolchildren. They were on their way back to Ain al-Arab from taking year-end school exams in the northern city of Aleppo.