This Day in History (15-11-1396)
Today is Sunday; 15th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 17th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal 1439 lunar hijri; and February 4, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1806 solar years ago, on this day in 211 AD, after a reign of 18 blood-soaked years, Roman Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus died at Eboracum (modern York in Britain) at the age of 65, while preparing to lead a campaign against the Caledonians. He had seized power on the death of Emperor Pertinax, after deposing and killing the incumbent emperor Didius Julianus, during the “Year of the Five Emperors”. Of Syrian-Punic origin, he then fought his rival claimants, the generals, Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus, to consolidate his power. Niger was defeated in 194 at the Battle of Issus in Cilicia in what is now south-central Turkey. Later that year Severus waged a punitive campaign beyond the eastern frontier by annexing the Kingdom of Osroene, which was under protection of the Parthian Empire, thereby starting a new phase of Roman-Iranian hostilities. The Battle of Lugdunum (modern Lyon in France) against Albinus was the bloodiest-ever battle between rival Roman armies that resulted in the death of over a 100,000 soldiers. A ruthless pagan, Septimius Severus persecuted monotheists, especially the followers of Prophet Jesus (AS), and waged war against Iran’s Parthian Empire in Iraq, sacking the capital Ctesiphon in 197. Like Trajan a century earlier, he was not much successful, as the Iranians regrouped and forced him to pull back. Although he briefly annexed the upper part of Mesopotamia in what are now northern Syria and southern Turkey, he failed to subdue the impregnable fortress of Hatra near Mosul in what was then the Iranian province of Khavaran, despite two lengthy sieges. Septimius Severus was succeeded by his equally bloodthirsty and treacherous elder son, Caracalla, who soon killed his younger brother and six years later in 217 was destined to meet a miserable death, following his deceitful slaughter in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan) of the unarmed wedding party of the Parthian Emperor Artabanus’ daughter whom he had tricked into marriage.
1384 solar years ago, on this day in 634 AD, the Battle of Dathin near Gaza in Palestine resulted in the victory of Muslims over Byzantine or the Eastern Roman Empire and became very famous in the literature of the period. The victory was celebrated by the local Jews, who had been a persecuted minority in the Byzantine Christian Empire. Byzantine commander, Sergius was killed in the encounter. The Muslims were led by Abu Umamah al-Bahili, a companion of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), who later was with the forces of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), in the War of Siffin against the Syrian rebel, Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan.
1159 lunar years ago, on this day in 280 AH, the Iranian linguist and poet of Arabic language, Abu’l-Fazl Ahmad, known as Ibn Abi Taher Tayfur, passed away at the age of 76. Born in Baghdad to Tayfur, who hailed from the Khorasani city of Marv (presently in Turkmenistan), he played an important role in the revolutionizing of Arabic literature. He was the first writer to devote a book to writers. He was buried in the Bab ash-Sham cemetery in the section reserved for notables. His works include “Kitab al-Manthour wa’l-Manzoum” (Book of Prose and Poetry), in three volumes, which is the first attested multi-author anthology. He also authored “Kitab Baghdad” (Book of Baghdad), in 6 volumes, of which only one volume has survived. He also compiled “Balaghat an-Nisa” (Eloquence of Women), in which he has cited the two sermons of Hazrat Fatema az-Zahra (SA), the daughter of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), following the seizure of her patrimony of the orchard of Fadak and the usurpation of the right of political leadership of her husband the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS). He has also mentioned the eloquently moving sermon of Omm Kolthoum, (SA) the Prophet’s granddaughter, delivered in the aftermath of the tragedy of Karbala and the martyrdom of her brother Imam Husain (AS).
1158 lunar years ago, on this day in 281 AH, the Iranian polymath, Abu Hanifah Ahmad ibn Dawoud Dinawari, passed away at the age of 70 in his birthplace Dinawar – a Kurdish region halfway between Hamedan and Kermanshah in western Iran. He studied astronomy, mathematics and mechanics in Isfahan and Arabic philology and poetry in Kufa and Basra. He also excelled in agriculture, botany, metallurgy, history and geography. His most renowned work is “Kitab an-Nabaat” (Book of Plants), for which he is considered the founder of Islamic botany, for his scientific classification and listing of thousands of varieties of different plants, with detailed discussion from their evolution to birth and subsequent death. He is among the very first writers to discuss the ancestry of the Kurdish people, writing a book titled “Ansaab al-Akraad” (Ancestry of the Kurds). All his works are in Arabic including “Kitab al-Kusouf” (Book of Solar Eclipses), “Kitab al-Akhbar at-Tiwaal” (General History), “Kitab al-Boldaan” (Book of Lands – Geography), and “Kitab ash-She'r wa'sh-Shu'ara” (Book of Poetry and Poets). Dinawari's works also deal with astronomy and meteorology to agriculture. It describes the astronomical and meteorological character of the sky, the planets and constellations, the sun and moon, the lunar phases indicating seasons and rain, the atmospheric phenomena such as winds, thunder, lightning, snow, floods, valleys, rivers, lakes, wells and other sources of water.
1058 solar years ago, on this day in 960 AD, with the coronation of Zhao Kuangyin as Emperor Taizu, the Song Dynasty started its rule over China that would last more than three centuries. A distinguished military general, Taizu came to power by staging a coup to force the young Emperor Gong of the Zhou Dynasty to abdicate. During his reign, he conquered the states of Southern Tang, Later Shu, Southern Han and Jingnan, thus reunifying most of China proper and effectively ending the tumultuous Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song Dynasty was the first in world history to nationally issue banknotes or true paper money, the first to use gunpowder, and the first to discern the true north by use of compass. The Spanish-Sicilian Muslim geographer Seyyed Mohammad al-Idrisi al-Hassani wrote in 1154 of the prowess of Chinese merchant ships in the Indian Ocean and of their voyages that brought iron, swords, silk, velvet, porcelain, and various textiles to places such as Yemen, the Indus River, and the Euphrates in modern-day Iraq. Foreigners, in turn, had an impact on the Chinese economy. For example, many West Asian and Central Asian Muslims went to China to trade, becoming a preeminent force in the import and export industry, while some were even appointed as officers supervising economic affairs. Many Persian Manicheans also lived in China during the Song era.
229 solar years ago, on this day in 1789 AD, George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief of the American army during the 8-year long war of independence from British rule, was elected as the first President of the United States of America. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the US and presided over the drafting of the constitution. He served for president for two 4-year terms.
181 lunar years ago, on this day in 1258 AH, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Ali Shah-Abdulazimi, was born in Rayy, near modern Tehran. He went to Iraq to complete his higher religious studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf, where he mastered Islamic sciences under Ayatollah Sheikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli, Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi, and Ayatollah Sheikh Mullah Ali Khalili – whose daughter he married. He passed away at the age of 76 in Tuweiraj while returning from Karbala after pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam Husain (AS). He was laid to rest in Najaf in the holy mausoleum of Imam Ali (AS). He was a prolific writer, whose several works have not yet been published. Among his printed works mention could be made of “al-Iqaat”, and “al-Jowharah”.
119 solar years ago, on this day in 1899 AD, the Battle of Manila, the first and largest battle between the Philippines and the US invasion forces, was fought and ended the following day in the massacre of the Filipino people. Hardly a year after Filipino revolutionaries had proclaimed the country as republic under President Emilio Aguinaldo to end over three centuries of rule by Spain, the US intervened on the claim that it had bought Philippines for 20,000 dollars in 1898. During World War 2 Japan seized the Philippines and massacred over a million people in the course of five years. In 1945, the US reoccupied it and was forced to grant independence the next year, but has continued to control the successive governments by basing thousands of troops, against the will of the Filipino people. Some 20 percent of the Filipinos are Muslim, mainly concentrated in the Sulu archipelago of the south, which was an independent sultanate before the Spaniards occupied the Philippines and forcibly Christianized the people at a time when Islam was fast spreading.
73 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD, following setbacks suffered by German forces in World War II, the Yalta Conference was held in the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea, attended by Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and US President Franklin Roosevelt. The goal was to study the latest political and military state of the warring parties and determine the fate of territories occupied by Allied Forces. At the conference, the decision was made about terms of unconditional submission to be imposed on Germany, with the US, Britain, and the Soviet Union each occupying a part of Germany. France was also invited to seize a part of Germany as the 4th member state of the supervisory committee. Other decisions taken at Yalta included Germany’s disarmament; prosecution of war criminals and receipt of war reparations from Germany. Three months after the Yalta Conference, World War II ended with Germany’s submission in May, 1945.
70 solar years ago, on this day in 1948 AD, Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule. Located off the southern coast of India and known as Ceylon, this emerald-shaped island was first occupied by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch, before the British seized it in 1798. In 1931, the British were forced to grant the right to vote to the people followed by establishment of the parliament and the executive council. In 1972, Sri Lanka officially became a republic. It is interesting to note that in Islamic texts Sri Lanka is called “Sarendib” and is the location of the descent to earth of the Father of the human race, Adam, after he fell to the temptations of the Satan to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. There are huge footprints in stone attributed to Adam on the 2,243 meter-high Adam's Peak of a conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. Incidentally the 30-km long chain of islands separating the Gulf of Mannar from the Palk Strait is called Adam's Bridge. Geological evidence suggests that these islands were a land connection between India and Sri Lanka, and the route was used by Adam to cross into the Subcontinent, from where, via the Iranian Plateau, he travelled towards the Arabian Peninsula to find his long separated wife, Eve.
39 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, in a futile bid to mislead the Iranian people, Shapour Bakhtiar, the prime minister of the fugitive Shah, harped on democracy and freedom, saying he won't allow the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), to name the provisional government. He made bombastic statements while his regime no longer controlled the country in view of nationwide public strikes and demonstrations, coupled with desertion of troops from barracks and resignation of government officials.
25 solar years ago, on this day in 1993 AD, Iranian poetess, Sarvar Bakuchi, known as Sepideh Kashani, passed away at the age of 56. Born in a religious family in the central city of Kashan, following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, she composed revolutionary poetry dedicated to the cause of the Islamic Republic.
10 solar years ago, on this day in 2008 AD, Iran launched a research rocket and unveiled its first major space center, which will be used to launch research satellites.
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2010 AD, the Islamic Republic of Iran successfully launched a research rocket carrying a mouse, two turtles and worms into space. The rocket was “Kavoshgar-3”, which means Explorer-3 in Persian.
6 solar years ago, on this day in 2012 AD, Iran successfully launched a new small satellite into orbit. The home-made satellite, “Navid” (Good Tidings), was designed to collect data on weather conditions and monitor natural disasters.
2 solar years ago, on this day in 2016 AD, Raghib Mustafa Ghalwash, a famous reciter of the holy Qur’an passed away in his homeland Egypt at the age of 79. Born in Tanta, he held his first public recitation at the age of 14. He soon acquired national and international fame through his regular recitations in Cairo’s famous Ras al-Imam Husain Mosque. He had also visited the Islamic Republic of Iran, and had fond memories of the Iranian people, whom he greatly admired.