Today is Wednesday; 26th of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 5th of the Islamic month of Zil-Qa’dah 1442 lunar hijri; and June 16, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
Some 4,500 lunar years ago, on this day, by the command of God Almighty, Prophet Abraham, along with his firstborn son, Ishmael, started rebuilding the holy Ka’ba in Mecca, a millennium and one-hundred-and-eighty-seven (1187) years after it was destroyed by the great deluge of the days of Prophet Noah. Built by Adam at the dawn of creation as the Symbolic House of the Unseen but Omnipresent God, the cube-shaped edifice had been reduced to red-hued hillock by the roaring waters. The Hajar al-Aswad (Sacred Black Stone) was recovered from nearby Mount Abu Qubais, and installed in one of the corners of the Ka’ba by father and son. “As Abraham raised the foundations of the House with Ishmael, [they prayed]: ‘Our Lord, accept it from us! Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.’” (Holy Qur’an 2:127).
1658 solar years ago, on this day in 363 AD, Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate during his retreat from lower Mesopotamia or Iraq, following counterattacks by the Persian army, sailed up the River Tigris and burned his fleet of supply ships in a bid to inspire his forces to make a bold stand. Ten days later, he was killed in the Battle of Samarra as the Iranian army of Sassanid Emperor Shapur II (equipped with war elephants from the Indian satrapies) inflicted a shattering defeat on the Romans. Earlier, while Shapur was in the east, Julian the Apostate (who renounced Christianity and reverted to paganism), had made a daring raid on the Persian capital, Ctesiphon (Mada’en, near Baghdad), as part of an unsuccessful European attempt to seize Iraq for possible infiltration into the Iranian Plateau and domination of the east – like Alexander of Macedonia. The Romans failed to take Ctesiphon and fled in the face of Iranian resistance.
1389 solar years ago, on this day in 632 AD, marks the start of the religious calendar of the Zoroastrian community with the ascension to the throne in Ctesiphon (near Baghdad in modern Iraq) of the 8-year Yazdegird III, the 29th and last Emperor of the Sassanid Dynasty. He was the son of Shahryar and grandson of Khosrow II (Pervez), and after a series of internal conflicts, was placed on the throne, but never truly exercised authority. The Muslim conquest of the Persian Empire began in the first year of his reign, and ended twelve years later with the Battle of Oxus River in Central Asia, the eastern limit of the Sassanid Empire in 644 AD. After fleeing to China via Turkestan, Yazdegird III returned to Iran but was killed by a local miller in Marv in 651 on the instructions of the governor of that city which is currently in Turkmenistan. His daughter, Princess Shahrbano married Imam Husain (AS), the Prophet of Islam’s younger grandson and 3rd Infallible Heir, and became mother of Imam Ali Zain al-Abedin (AS).
778 lunar years ago, on this day in 664 AH, the theologian, hadith scholar, historian, and literary figure, Ali Ibn Musa Razi od-Din, popularly known as “Seyyed Ibn Tawous” passed away at the age of 75. The House of Aal-e Tawous was originally from Medina tracing its descent from Imam Hasan Mojtaba (AS), the elder grandson of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He belonged to a most famous religious and scholarly family in the Iraqi city of Hillah. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Hillah, studying under his grandfather and father, before leaving for Najaf, Karbala and Kazemayn. He stayed in Baghdad for 15 years, mastering different branches of science including theology and astronomy. He led an ascetic life and rejected posts offered by the caliphs of the usurper Abbasid regime. He was a prolific writer and has left behind a number of books in ethics, theology, philosophy, hadith, and astronomy, which have been translated and reprinted on several occasions. Among his important compilations is titled “al-Luhouf”, on the heartrending events of the tragedy of Karbala, and is considered one of the authentic accounts of the martyrdom of the Prophet’s younger grandson, Imam Husain (AS). His other important book is: “al-Malahem wa’l-Fitan”, on the events to occur in the end times, prior to and concurrent with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS), the 12th Infallible Successor of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He is also the author of the famous Prayer Manual “Iqbal al-A’maal”. His brothers and son were also famous scholars.
553 lunar years ago, on this day in 889 AH, Mahmoud Shah I (Begara), the most prominent Sultan of Gujarat, captured the Rajput stronghold of Champaner, completely rebuilt it, and renamed it Mohammadabad. He transferred his capital to this city from Ahmadabad – built by his great-grandfather and founder of the Muzaffarid Dynasty, Ahmad Shah I. Mahmoud Shah built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Champaner, which ranks amongst the finest architectural edifices of the Indo-Persian style in Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with two tall minarets 30 m tall, 172 pillars and seven mihrabs, in addition to carved entrance gates with fine latticed windows, topped by domes. He also captured Bombay during his 43-year rule, styling himself “Sultan al-Barr wa’l-Bahr” (King of the Land and the Sea). He laid the foundation of the city of Mahmoudabad (Junagadh), adorning it with a palace, beautiful buildings and extensive gardens. In order to thwart the designs of the Portuguese, he entered into an alliance with the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt and the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It was during his time that the famous naval Battle of Diu was fought off the coast of India, resulting in a shattering defeat for the European invaders by the joint fleets of Gujarat, Egypt and the Ottomans. Persian literature flourished at his court.
388 solar years ago, on this day in 1633 AD, famous French traveler of Muslim lands, Jean de Thevenot, was born in Paris. In 1652 he started his journey by visiting England, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. In 1655 he came to Istanbul the capital of the Ottoman Empire, proceeded to Smyrna, the Greek islands, and landed in Alexandria. He stayed for a year in Egypt, visited Sinai, and, upon returning to Cairo, joined the Lent pilgrim caravan to Bayt al-Moqaddas. He visited the chief places of pilgrimage in Palestine, and was again in Cairo. In January 1659 he sailed from Alexandria to Tunis and after spending four years in Italy in studies, in November 1663 he again sailed for the East, calling at Alexandria and landing at Sidon (in Lebanon), whence he proceeded to Damascus, Aleppo, and then through Iraq to Mosul, Baghdad and Mandali. He entered Iran in August 1664, proceeding by Kermanshah and Hamedan to the Safavid capital, Isfahan, where he spent five months. Then he joined the French merchant Tavernier, and by way of Shiraz and Lar to Bandar-Abbas on the Persian Gulf, in the hope of finding a passage to India. Tavernier left for India but Thevenot returned to Shiraz and visited the ruins of the Achaemenid capital Persepolis – destroyed by Alexander of Macedon. He then travelled to Basra and sailed for India on November 6, 1665, arriving at the port of Surat in Gujarat on January 10, 1666. He was in the Moghal Empire of India for thirteen months, and crossed into the Deccan or south India where he stayed for a while in Haiderabad, the capital of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, travelling around the kingdom as far as Masulipatam on the Bay of Bengal. He returned overland to Surat, from where he sailed to Bandar-Abbas and went up to Shiraz. He passed the summer of 1667 at Isfahan, and in October started for Tabriz, but died on the way at Miyana on November 28, 1667. Thevenot was skilled in the Turkish, Arabic and Persian languages, and a curious and diligent observer. He was also well skilled in natural sciences, especially in botany, for which he made large collections in India.
205 solar years ago, on this day in 1816 AD, English poet George Gordon Byron read “Fantasmagoriana” (a French anthology of German ghost stories) to his four house guests at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland –Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and John Polidori. He challenged that each guest write a ghost story, which culminated in Mary Shelley writing the novel “Frankenstein”, Polidori the short story “The Vampyre”, and Byron the poem “Darkness”. Byron led an unprincipled life, travelling around Europe and indulging in scandalous affairs. He died of severe bleeding at the age of 36, while inciting the Greeks to sedition against Ottoman Muslims.
102 solar years ago, on this day in 1919 AD, Ayatollah Mirza Mustafa Mujtahed Tabrizi passed away at the age of 40 years in his hometown Tabriz, and his body was taken to holy Najaf in Iraq for burial. A product of the Najaf seminary, in addition to theology, jurisprudence, and hadith, he mastered mathematics and astronomy, and was an accomplished poet in Arabic and Persian. Among his works are “Hashiya” (Annotation) he wrote separately on the books “Kifayat al-Usoul” and “Lisan al-Khawas”.
77 solar years ago, on this day in 1944 AD, 14-year old Afro-American boy, George Junius Stinney Jr., was mercilessly executed by the US government on alleged charges of homicide. He was the youngest person executed in the US in the 20th century. His execution is proof of the flawed concept of justice in the US, which styles itself as champion of human rights and uses this as a tool to interfere in the affairs of other countries, despite its sordid record of genocide of the Amerindians and mistreatment of black and coloured peoples. There are cases in the US where after execution it has been proved that the person handed capital punishment was innocent.
77 solar years ago, on this day in 1944 AD, during World War II, the US air force carried out an extensive bombardment of southern Japan in a bid to force Tokyo to surrender. Tens of thousands of Japanese civilians were killed and the factories and farmlands were destroyed. Japan, however, stood steadfast. Having failed to break the spirit of the Japanese, the US intensified its crimes against humanity, and over a year later in August 1945 it dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
58 solar years ago, on this day in 1963 AD, the first female astronaut, the Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova, started her journey into outer space on board the Vostok-6 Spacecraft, two years after the first male astronaut of the world, Yuri Gagarin, orbited the Earth. Tereshkova orbited 48 times around the Earth in 70 hours and 50 minutes.
56 solar years ago, on this day in 1965 AD, four members of the Islamic Coalition Group, namely Mohammad Bukharai, Sadeq Amani, Saffar Harandi, and Morteza Niknejad, were martyred by the British-installed and US-backed Shah, for protesting against his anti-Islamic policies. The Islamic Coalition was formed in the aftermath of the exile of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA) following the 15th of Khordad Uprising (June 5, 1963). This group had earlier carried out the revolutionary execution of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Mansour, the implementer of the scandalous Capitulation Law that granted judicial immunity to Americans in Iran. Over a hundred members of the Coalition Group were arrested, tortured and imprisoned after unfair trials.
45 solar years ago, on this day in 1976 AD, the Soweto Uprising, also known as the 16 June Uprising, started in South Africa as a series of protests led by high school students. Students from numerous Sowetan schools began to protest in the streets of Soweto in response to the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools by the white racist Apartheid regime. An estimated 20,000 students took part in the protests. The number of people who died is estimated at 700. June 16 is marked as Youth Day with a public holiday in South Africa, in remembrance of the events of 1976.
14 solar years ago, on this day in 2007 AD, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, passed away in his hometown Qom at the age of 76. A student of both Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Boroujerdi and the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), he was active in the 15th Khordad uprising, for which he was detained and tortured on several occasions by the Shah. He fully supported the victory of Islamic Revolution and founding of the Islamic Republic, and groomed numerous students.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2012 AD, Takfiri terrorists backed by the US and Saudi Arabia, used car bombs to target religious processions in Baghdad on route of the annual pilgrimage to the holy shrine of the 7th and 9th Infallible Imams of the Prophet’s Household in Kazemain. Some 50 people were martyred and over a hundred injured.
5 solar years ago, on this day in 2016 AD, famous Iranian pharmaceutical chemist, Professor Abbas Shafiee, passed away at the of 79 in Tehran. Born in a religious family, he completed his education in medical sciences from Tehran University in 1962, specializing in pharmaceutical sciences. He then travelled to the US where he obtained a master’s degree in 1965 from Columbia University’s College of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1965, and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the same institution in 1968. On his return to Iran, he started teaching at Tehran University, where he soon became President of the Faculty of Pharmacy. During the 8-year war the US imposed on Iran through Saddam of the repressive Ba’th minority regime, Dr. Shafiee was active at the frontlines, examining victims of the internationally banned chemicals used by the Ba’thists. He studied the toxic weapons used and their effects, and succeeded in producing chemicals to neutralize their effects. He published more than 350 scientific articles in peer reviewed international journals.