Today is Wednesday; 19th of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 28th of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1442 lunar hijri; and June 9, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1953 solar years ago, on this day in 68 AD, the deceitful, cruel and bloodthirsty Roman Emperor, Nero, to evade a Senate-imposed death by flogging, committed suicide at the age of 31 by imploring his secretary Epaphroditos to slit his throat. Thus ended the 14-year reign of terror during which Nero tortured to death the monotheistic followers of Prophet Jesus (AS), killed his own mother Agrippina who had secured the throne for him through treachery, and torched the entire city of Rome while sadistically enjoying the sight of its burning from a hill. His widowed mother had married her own uncle Emperor Claudius and forced him to adopt Nero as son. Nero poisoned the emperor to death and on seizing the throne got rid by fatally poisoning the emperor’s teenaged son Britannicus. He eliminated all possible rivals, killed his wives at pleasure, and ordered the death of his own mother. In foreign policy, unable to face the might of Iran’s Parthian Empire, after hostilities in Armenia, he concluded peace. His death made the people joyous.
1391 solar years ago, on this day in 630 AD, the victorious Iranian general Farrokhan titled “Shahrbaraz”, who had seized power as the 25th Sassanid Emperor, was killed. “Shahrbaraz” means Boar of the Empire, since the boar was the animal associated with the Zoroastrian Izad Vahram (epitome of victory). Appointed “Iran Sepahbod” (or Commander of the Army of Iran) by Emperor Khosrow II (Pervez), he swept through Syria taking Damascus and Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire in 613 and 614 respectively, before marching towards the capital Constantinople. However, when Heraclius assumed power as the new Byzantine Emperor and pushed back the Persians from Anatolia (modern Turkey) in the 620s, mutual suspicion arose between Khosrow and Shahrbaraz. Byzantine agents showed Shahrbaraz letters indicating that Khosrow was planning his execution. This kept one of the main Persian armies and its best general neutral during this crucial period, speeding the end of the long war and Byzantine victory. Following the Persian surrender, Shahrbaraz was heavily involved in the intrigues of the Sassanid court. On April 27, 630, he killed Emperor Ardashir III and seized power. He made peace with Heraclius and returned to him the relics of Jerusalem. In April 630 he failed to deal with the invasion of Armenia by a Khazar-Gokturk force under Chorpan Tarkhan. He was slain by the nobles and replaced by his wife – Khosrow’s daughter – Purandokht, as Empress of the rapidly declining Sassanid Empire, which six years later would be overrun by Arab Muslim armies.
1300 solar years ago, on this day in 721 AD, the Arab army suffered a setback at the Battle of Toulouse in southern France against Odo of Aquitaine. Faulty planning by the Omayyad governor of Spain, Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani, made the huge Muslim force immobile against the lightly armed Christians. However, this did not end the Muslim march into Europe that continued as far as north-western France for another decade until the decisive defeat at the Battle of Tours.
1122 lunar years ago, on this day in 320 AH, the 34-year old Abu Mansur Mohammad was installed as the 19th caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime in Baghdad with the title “al-Qaher-Billah” by the Turkic slave-guards, who a day earlier had killed his step-brother, Muqtadir-Billah, after a depraved 25-year reign spent in wine, women, music, and singing. He turned out to be more inefficient and cruel than his predecessor. He had his young nephew (a son of Muqtadir) walled up alive, and tortured to death his own step-mother (mother of Muqtadir) in such a cruel manner that she was hanged from her legs with her urine dripping on her face. His tyranny made the Turkic guards remove him after a reign of a year-and-a-half. At night when the caliph was as usual heavily drunk with wine, they burst into his chamber, and when he refused to abdicate, they blinded him, threw him into prison, and set up his nephew, Raadhi (son of Muqtadir) as the new caliph. Eleven years later and after two more caliphs were deposed, he was freed, and till his death 8 years later at the age of 54, he was seen in rags and wooden sandals begging for alms on the streets of Baghdad.
969 lunar years ago, on this day in 473 AH, the renowned Persian poet and mystic, Majd od-Din ibn Adam Sana’i Ghaznavi, was born in Ghazni in what is now Afghanistan. He was connected with the court of the Ghaznavid king, Bahram Shah, who ruled for 35 years. When accompanying the king on a military campaign to India, Sana’i met the Sufi teacher Lai-Khur, and immediately quit royal service as a court poet even though he was promised wealth and the king’s daughter in marriage. He started serving the people and criticized the unjust and corrupt rulers in his poems. He was a trend-setter in the style of Persian poetry. His most important work is “Hadiqat-al-Haqiqah” (Walled Garden of Truth), which is in the form of odes, reflecting his ethical and Gnostic thoughts. Among his other works, one can mention “Ilahi Namah” and “Tareeq at-Tahqeeq”. He has written some excellent panegyrics in praise of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), the First Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). For the past nine centuries Sana’i has had a tremendous influence on Persian literature, and along with Shaikh Fareed od-Din Attar, was regarded by Mowlana Jalal od-Din Rumi as an inspiration.
349 solar years ago, on this day in 1672 AD, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia was born to Tsar Alexis. He was crowned at the age of 10, but was soon dethroned by his half-sister Sophia and banished to a village in the vicinity of Moscow. After a while, he gathered a large number of troops and confronted his sister, winning the battle as well as the crown. He was an expansionist and waged wars on neighbouring states to enlarge the Russian Empire. To the south, he sought an outlet to the Black Sea which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Peter entered into an agreement with Poland to acquire Kiev in Ukraine, so as to use it as a base for launching attacks on the Tartar Muslims of the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea. Peter’s primary objective became the capture of the Ottoman fortress of Azov, near the Don River. In the summer of 1695 he organized the Azov campaigns to take the fortress, but his attempts ended in failure. Peter returned to Moscow in November of that year and began building a large navy. He launched about thirty ships against the Ottomans in 1696, capturing Azov in July of that year. He soon realized that he cannot defeat the Ottomans alone, and travelled to Europe to seek alliances against the Turks, but to his dismay, found France and Austria, reluctant to start hostilities with the Ottomans. In the end he made peace with the Ottomans to keep control of Azov, and died in 1725 without succeeding in his expansionist goals of pushing into the Caucasus against the Turkish and Iranian territories. In 1703 he founded the city of Saint Petersburg on the estuary of Neva River flowing into the Baltic Sea, a fortnight after he had captured it 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. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to St Petersburg in 1712. Between 1713-to-1728 and from 1732-to-1918, St Petersburg was capital of Russia, until Vladimir Lenin replaced it with Moscow.
247 solar years ago, on this day in 1774 AD, Austrian orientalist, Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, was born in Graz. He mastered Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and on entering the diplomatic service in 1796, was appointed in 1799 to a position in the Austrian embassy in Constantinople. For fifty years Hammer-Purgstall wrote prolifically on the most diverse subjects and published numerous texts and translations of Arabic, Persian and Turkish authors. By traversing so large a field, he laid himself open to the criticism of specialists, and he was severely handled by Friedrich Christian Diez who, in his “Unfug und Betrug” (1815), devoted to him nearly 600 pages of abuse. He also came into conflict on the subject of the origin of “The Thousand and One Nights” with his English contemporary Edward William Lane. The Austrian Oriental Society, founded in 1959 to foster cultural relations with the Near East, is formally named “Österreichische Orient-Gesellschaft Hammer-Purgstall” in recognition of Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall’s accomplishments. He wrote several books including an English language translation (1834) of the first two volumes of Ottoman scholar Avliya Chelebi’s travelogue titled “Siyahat-Nameh”.
206 solar years ago, on this day in 1815 AD, the Vienna Congress, attended by European kings and ministers, drew to its close. Commenced in September 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, it restored to power the dynasties overthrown by the French Emperor. It redrew the new political map of Europe that saw Belgium annexed by the Netherlands and Norway annexed by Sweden, while Poland was divided among Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Prussia also annexed many of the German states, while Italy remained divided into several small states. Several French colonies abroad were handed to Britain.
151 solar years ago, on this day in 1870 AD, the English author and novelist, Charles Dickens, died at the age of 58. He was the founder of Realism Style in English literature. His books include “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield” which brought him world fame. Among his other famous novels, mention can be made of “Great Expectations” and “The Tale of Two Cities”. Dickens who was editor of “Bentley’s Miscellany” a general interest monthly magazine, from January 1837 to 1839, paid tribute to the Martyr of Karbala in it, by writing: “If Husain had fought to quench his worldly desires…then I do not understand why his sister, wife, and children accompanied him. It stands to reason therefore, that he sacrificed purely for Islam.”
137 solar years ago, on this day in 1884 AD, Germany forced Togo in West Africa to become its protectorate by signing a treaty with King Mlapa III. In 1905, this former slave trade centre for European merchants was declared the German colony of Togoland. During World War I it was invaded by British troops from the neighbouring Gold Coast or today’s Ghana and French troops from Dahomey, which is now the republic of Benin. As a result, Togoland was separated into two League of Nations mandates administered by Britain and France. After World War II, these mandates became UN Trust Territories. In 1957, the residents of British Togoland voted to join the Gold Coast as part of the new independent nation of Ghana in 1957, while in 1959, French Togoland became an autonomous republic within the French Union. The next year it was declared the Togolese Republic. It has a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. Some 25 percent of its people are Muslims.
84 lunar years ago, on this day in 1358 AH, the jurisprudent/philosopher, Ayatollah Seyyed Hassan Badkoubei, passed away in holy Najaf at the age of 65. Born in the Russian occupied Iranian city of Baku (capital of the current Republic of Azerbaijan), after initial studies under his scholarly father, he came to Tehran, where he stayed for seven years learning jurisprudence and philosophy. He then went to holy Najaf in Iraq, where for four fruitful decades, he groomed scholars and wrote books.
59 solar years ago, on this day in 1962 AD, the University of Algiers in the Algerian capital was set ablaze by French agents, as a result of which 500,000 volumes of books were destroyed. The majority of burnt books were important and unique reference works.
54 solar years ago, on this day in 1967 AD, during the 6-day war, the usurper state of Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria, and later illegally annexed it. Despite several UN Security Council Resolutions, the illegal Zionist entity, with the backing of the US, has refused to withdraw from occupied Syrian territory.
53 solar years ago, on this day in 1968 AD, the prominent Islamic scholar and mystic, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hassan Elahi Tabatabai, passed away at the age of 62. Born in Tabriz, northwestern Iran, he left for holy Najaf in Iraq at the age of 19 for higher Islamic studies. After attaining Ijtihad he returned to his hometown, Tabriz, and started teaching. Among his valuable works is “A Treatise on the Science of Music and Spiritual Relations with Sounds”.
33 lunar years ago, on this day in 1409 AH, the Father of Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA) passed away at the age of 87, plunging in grief Iranians, world Muslims and conscientious people throughout the globe. (According to Iranian solar calendar the day was 14th Khordad, corresponding to June 4 of the Gregorian calendar). He had transformed Iran into a powerful independent country, after inspiring the people to overthrow the British-installed and American-supported Pahlavi regime, thereby shattering big power equations in Iran and the region. A mujtahid and a Gnostic of the highest order, he was exiled for some 14 years for opposing the despotic Shah, before returning home to an unprecedented welcome, to lead the people to victory in February 1979. For the next ten years he ably guided the Islamic Republic of Iran, defeating the conspiracies hatched by Global Arrogance, including the 8-year war the US imposed on Iran through its agent, Saddam of Iraq’s repressive Ba’th minority regime. In addition to grooming prominent scholars, Imam Khomeini has left behind many valuable compilations, including “Tahrir al-Wasilah”, “Mesbah al-Hedaayah” and “Islamic Government”. He gave to the world the dynamic system of “Velayat-e Faqih” or rule of the Supreme Jurisprudent in the absence of the Infallible Imam, pointing out the absurdity of rule by unprincipled and immoral persons, even if democratically elected. His thoughts continue to guide the people of Iran and all conscientious people around the world.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2011, the famous Indian artist and painter Maqboul Fida Hussain, died in self-exile in Qatar at the age of 96. Born into a family of Bohras of the Sulaymani Ismaili Shi’ite sect, he is considered the Picasso of India and was forced to leave his homeland because of threats against his life by Hindu extremists.