Today is Monday; 31st of the Iranian month of Khordad 1400 solar hijri; corresponding to 10th of the Islamic month of Zil-Qa’dah 1442 lunar hijri; and June 21, 2021, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
2238 solar years ago, on this day in 217 BC, the largest and most successful ambushes in military history took place in the Battle of Lake Trasimene in northern Italy as part of the Second Punic War, when the Carthaginians led by general, Hannibal, defeated the Romans under the Consul Gaius Flaminius, who had set out with a huge army to try to avenge the earlier defeat at Trebia. Occupying an ideally concealed position in the hills and forests overlooking the lake, Hannibal skillfully used his army of North Africans and Europeans to annihilate the initial Roman force of about 30,000, of which 15,000 were either killed in battle or drowned while trying to escape into the lake — including Flaminius himself. The others were captured and sold into slavery, while Hannibal suffered only 2,500 casualties. The disaster for Rome did not end there. Within a day or two, a reinforcement force of 4,000 under Gaius Centenius was intercepted and destroyed. The Second Punic War lasted from 218 to 202 BC and involved battles in the western and eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of the Berbers on Carthage’s side. The war is marked by Hannibal’s landing in Spain with an army of elephants and his overland journey through what is now France, via which he crossed the Alps into Italy. Rome narrowly escaped destruction during his spectacular victories. The term “Punic” comes from the Latin word Punicus or Poenicus, which is a reference to the Carthaginians’ ancestry in Phoenicia or modern Lebanon.
1151 solar years ago, on this day in 870 AD, Muhtadi ibn Watheq, the 14th self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, was killed by the Turkic guards at the age of 38 after almost a year-long reign, having succeeded his lecherous cousin, Mu’taz ibn Mutawakkel, whom the Turkic guards had deposed and killed. Son of a Greek concubine named Qurb, on taking up power in Samarra, he tried to reform his court by banning singing girls, dancers and musicians, and prohibiting wine and gambling.
1115 solar years ago, on this day in 906 AD, Ahmad ibn Mohammad, the Saffarid emir of Sistan for forty years, was born in the family of the famous Iranian adventurer Yaqoub bin Layth. His wife was the granddaughter of Amr bin Layth, and he was he proclaimed ruler by the people in 923 at the age of 17 in Zaranj – ten years after the last Saffarid ruler was ousted from power. Ahmad started expanding his power in all directions, and although his sway in Kerman was temporary, he focused mainly in the east in and around Bust in what is now southeastern Afghanistan, where he crushed opposition to his rule. A great patron of arts, he was held in high regard by his neighbours; even the Saffarids’ historical enemies, the fellow Iranians, Samanids, of what is now Central Asia. The famous Persian poet, Rudaki, praised Ahmad Saffarid’s name in a panegyric at the Samanid court in Bukhara. Other poets, both in Persian and Arabic, also had favourable views about him. Many scholarly gatherings in Sistan were conducted by Ahmad and were attended by prominent scholars such as the logician Abu Sulayman Mohammad as-Sijistani and the academician Nasafi. Ahmad was killed during a drinking party by Turkic slaves hired by a Saffarid family member while his sons were away. He was succeeded by his son Khalaf Wali od-Dowla, who ruled Sistan for the next forty years until his defeat and capture by Sultan Mahmoud Ghaznavi the Turk, who ended the almost 140-year rule of the Saffarid dynasty.
1053 lunar years ago, on this day in 389 AH, the Iranian Samanid Dynasty of Central Asia and Khorasan collapsed with the fall of its capital Bukhara (currently in Uzbekistan) to the Turkic chieftain Ilak Khan, son of Bughra Khan Qarakhanid, after 185 years of rule. The Samanid realm, founded by four Iranian brothers, who were appointed governors in different parts of northeastern Iran by the Abbasid caliph, Mamoun, was split up between the Qarakhanids who seized Transoxiana, and the Ghaznavids who had taken control of Khorasan and Afghanistan under Alpatigin the Turk; thereby making the Oxus River the boundary between the two rival Turkic empires. Abdul-Malik, Ibrahim, and Ya’qoub, the sons of the last ruler, Nooh Ibn Mansour Samani, managed to flee, but the fourth son who styled himself Isma’il II al-Muntasir was captured by the Qarakhanids. He, however, escaped from captivity and went to Khwarezm to gather support for reclaiming Bukhara, but was killed some six years later. The Samanids revived Persian culture by patronizing poets and scholars such as Rudaki, Bal’ami and Daqiqi. They propagated the Sunni schools of jurisprudence, repressed Ismailis, but were rather tolerant of Ithna Ash’ari or Twelver Shi’a Muslims. Islamic architecture and Islamo-Persian culture was spread deep into the heart of Central Asia by them. Following the first complete translation of the Qur’an into Persian, people in Central Asia began accepting Islam in significant numbers. Through zealous missionary work as many as 30,000 tents of Turks came to profess Islam and later under the Ghaznavids more than 55,000 tents of Turks became Muslim. The mass conversion of Turks to Islam eventually led to a growing influence of the Ghaznavids, followed by the Seljuqid Turks, who would later rule the region.
616 lunar years ago, on this day in 826 AH, the astronomer and mathematician, Sibt al-Maridini, was born in Egypt. Named Mohammad by his father Mohammad Ibn al-Ghazal, his mother was the daughter of the reputed astronomer, Abdullah al-Mardini; hence he became known as “Sibt al-Maridini”. He authored some fifty treatises in astronomy (sine quadrants, sundials, astronomical tables and prayer times) and wrote at least twenty-three books on mathematics. Among his works are “Sharh ar-Rahbiyah” and “Daqa’eq al-Haqa’eq”.
494 solar years ago, on this day in 1527 AD, Italian historian and philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, died in his hometown Florence. Regarded as a founder of modern unprincipled political science, he was a diplomat, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic, serving as secretary to the Second Chancery from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici family were out of power. He wrote his political theory titled “The Prince” after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility. He believed that there is no harm in acquiring power and maintaining it through any means possible including deceit and oppression, without regard for ethical principles or moral and religious values. Machiavelli died in 1527.
412 lunar years ago, on this day in 1030 AH, the famous jurisprudent, Shaikh Fakhr od-Din Mohammad Ibn Shaikh Hassan, a grandson of the celebrated Shaikh Zayn od-Din Shaheed Thani (the Second Martyr), passed away in holy Mecca and was laid to rest in the now destroyed Jannat al-Mu’alla Cemetery near the tomb of Omm al-Momineen, Hazrat Khadija (peace upon her), the loyal wife of Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny). He lived most of his life in Mecca and was a prolific writer. Among his works are commentaries on Shaikh at-Ta’efa Tusi’s “al-Istibsaar” and “at-Tahzeeb” – two of the four principal books of hadith and jurisprudence. This talented grandson of the Second Martyr was also an excellent poet in Arabic and has written a moving elegy on the Chief of Martyrs, Imam Husain (AS) – which Shaikh Hurr al-Ameli has included in his book “Amal al-Amel”.
197 solar years ago, on this day in 1824 AD, Egyptian forces, dispatched by Mohammad Ali Pasha to quell the West European-backed Greek sedition against Ottoman rule, recaptured Psara Island in the Aegean Sea from the rebels.
116 solar years ago, on this day in 1905 AD, the French philosopher and author, Jean-Paul Sartre, was born in Paris. He was among the pioneers of the weird school of thought known as Existentialism. He refused to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. Among his books, mention can be made of “The Flies” and “Being and Nothingness”. He died in 1980. It is worth noting that Sartre’s philosophy was debated and disproved by two of Iran’s leading Islamic philosophers who were contemporary with him – Allamah Seyyed Mohammad Hussain Tabataba’i, and Allamah Mohammad Taqi Ja’fari.
95 solar years ago, on this day in 1926 AD, Iraqi Islamogist and philosopher, Muhsin Seyyed Mahdi, was born in the holy city of Karbala. After finishing studies in Baghdad, he was awarded a government scholarship to study at the American University of Beirut. On return to Iraq, he taught for a year at the University of Baghdad before going to the US in 1948, where he obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He wrote his dissertation on Ibn Khaldun, and after spending two years in Baghdad, returned to Chicago, where he taught at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. At Harvard University (from 1969 until his retirement in 1996), as Professor of Arabic, he served as director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and also as Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He was well versed in Islamic, ancient Greek, medieval Jewish and Christian philosophy as well as modern Western political philosophy. Grounded in the methods of critical editions of manuscripts, he tried to establish the same standards in the fields of Arabic philology and philosophy. He devoted much of his career in search of manuscripts wherever his travels took him. He is especially known for the recovery, edition, translation and interpretation of many of the works of the renowned Iranian Islamic philosopher, Abu Nasr al-Farabi. Among his books is “Alfarabi and the Foundation of Islamic Political Philosophy”. He also researched, edited, and published “The Thousand and One Nights.”
68 solar years ago, on this day in 1953 AD, Benazir Bhutto, who served as Pakistan’s prime minister for two terms – from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996 – was born in Karachi in a Sindhi Muslim family. She was the daughter of Prime Minister Zulfeqar Ali Bhutto, who was deposed and executed by coup leader General Zia ul-Haq. Her mother Nosrat Isfahani was of Iranian origin. Benazir was assassinated at a public rally on 27 December 2007 under suspicious conditions during Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s rule, when it seemed that due to her immense popularity she was all set to win the parliamentary polls.
62 solar years ago, on this day in 1959 AD, Martyr Shaikh Nimr Baqer an-Nimr was born in Awwamiyya in the eastern oil-rich part of the Arabian Peninsula, that is currently under occupation of the Wahhabi Aal-e Saudi regime, which brutally martyred him on 2nd January 2016 in a move that shocked the civilized world and led to protests around the globe. After preliminary education, he studied higher religious sciences in the Islamic Republic of Iran and later Syria, before returning to his homeland, where his popularity, especially among the youth, alarmed the repressive Aal-e Saud regime. His call for fair and free elections unnerved the regime, and led to his arrest in 2006. Upon release, he continued his criticism of the regime, calling for restoration of the suppressed rights of the Shi’a Muslims, warning that failure to meet the popular demands would lead to eventual declaration of independence by the oil-rich eastern region that the Saudis had occupied in the 1920s. The regime responded by arresting him and 35 others. During the 2011-12 peaceful protests, Shaikh Nimr called for protestors to resist police bullets using “the roar of the word” rather than violence. He predicted collapse of the pseudo country called Saudi Arabia which the British had set up in 1932 by naming their agent, the desert brigand Abdul-Aziz Aal-e Saud as king. On 8 July 2012, regime forces shot him in the leg and imprisoned him. Despite torture, he refused to give up demands for the denied rights of the long-suppressed Shi’a Muslim majority of the eastern region as well as support for people in the neighbouring Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain where the Aal-e Khalifa minority regime is indulging in all sorts of crimes against the nation. He was sentenced to death by a kangaroo court in 2014 and martyred without trial in the prison.
51 solar years ago, on this day in 1970 AD, the Leader of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule, Ahmed Sukarno, died at the age of 69. He was elected as president of Indonesia in 1949, and was in power for 15 years when General Suharto staged a coup and seized power. In 1967, he was forced to resign.
40 solar years ago, on this day in 1981 AD, Islamic thinker, scientist, and Iranian defence minister, Dr. Mostafa Chamran, was martyred by the invading Ba’thist forces at the age of 49 while directing operations at the warfronts in Khuzestan, southwest Iran. He studied electronic engineering and obtained a PhD in this field from the US, where he was active in the struggle against the British-installed and US-backed Pahlavi regime. He left his prestigious job as a senior research staff scientist at Bell Laboratories and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to live in self-exile in Lebanon, where, while cooperating with the famous Iranian émigré religious leader, Imam Musa Sadr, he helped the deprived Lebanese people set up the Amal (Hope) Movement to confront the state terrorism of the illegal Zionist entity. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, he returned to Iran and was in charge of organizing the Islamic Revolution’s Guards Corps (IRGC). Elected to the parliament in March 1980 he subsequently became defence minister. When Saddam at the behest of the US imposed the 8-year war on Iran, the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), appointed him representative to the Supreme Defense Council. As an experienced general he was actively involved in defence operations at the warfronts and achieved martyrdom.
31 solar years ago, on this day in 1990 AD, a massive earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale jolted Gilan and Zanjan Provinces in northwestern Iran, at night, inflicting huge fatalities and major losses. The epicenter was in Roudbar. It claimed more than 50,000 lives, while wounding 60,000 others and leaving 500,000 people homeless. In the wake of this catastrophic earthquake, the Iranian people and government rushed to help the quake victims and compensated for the damages imposed by this quake.
17 solar years ago, on this day in 2004 AD, Iranian engineer, architect and archeologist, Mohammad Mehryar, passed away at the age of 65, while engaged in projects to restore the historic Bam Citadel following the devastating earthquake. For over 30 years he was active in research, field work, and projects to determine pre-Islamic and Islamic architectural masterpieces at Iran’s historical sites.