This Day in History (17-11-1396)
Today is Tuesday; 17th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 19th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal 1439 lunar hijri; and February 6, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1275 solar years ago, on this day in 743 AD, Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik, the 10th self-styled caliph of the usurper Omayyad regime, died at the age of 53 after an oppressive rule of 20 years over an empire stretching from Spain and southern France in the west to the borders of China and India in the east. Hisham was the murderer of Imam Mohammad Baqer (PuH), the 5th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He also brutally martyred the 5th Imam's younger brother, Zaid ibn Ali and had the body mutilated after taking it out from the grave. Hisham was notorious for his misery, despite accumulating a vast treasure that his troops brought as loot from different parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. He was succeeded by his nephew, Waleed, who refused to give him any shroud or burial, saying Hisham has left no legitimate and lawful income, and whatever he had accumulated was through plunder and seizure. Seven years after him, the Omayyad dynasty was thrown into the dustbin of history with the rise of the equally oppressive Abbasid usurpers.
642 lunar years ago, on this day in 796 AH, Mirza Mohammad Taraghay Ulugh Beg, the Timurid ruler of Transoxiana, and an accomplished astronomer and mathematician, was born in Soltaniyeh in northwestern Iran. Grandson of the fearsome Turkic conqueror, Amir Timur, he was deputy and eventually successor of his father, Shahrukh Mirza, in Central Asia and later parts of Khorasan and Afghanistan. His mother was the virtuous lady, Gowharshad, who built the grand mosque in Mashhad at the shrine of Imam Reza (AS) – the 8th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) – which still bears her name. Ulugh Beg built Madrasahs in Samarqand and Bukhara, transforming the cities into cultural centres of learning. He ruled for almost half-a-century the present-day countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and the southern parts of Kazakhstan – and for a while parts of Khorasan. Rather than politics, he was entirely devoted to art, literature and science. In 1428 he built the famous observatory at his capital Samarqand in cooperation with the famous Iranian astronomer, Ghiyas od-Din Jamshid. In his observations he discovered a number of errors in the computations of the 2nd century Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy, whose figures were still being used. His map of 994 stars was the first one since Hipparchus. The crater “Ulugh Beg” on the Moon was named after him by the German astronomer, Johann Heinrich von Madler, on his 1830 map of the Moon. Ulugh Beg measured the solar year, starting with the Spring Equinox or Nowrouz at 365 days 5 hours, 49 minutes and 15 seconds, making it more accurate than what Copernicus would later estimate. He also determined the Earth's axial tilt as 23.52 degrees, which remains the most accurate measurement to date – more accurate than later measurements by Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, and precisely matching the currently accepted figure. In mathematics, Ulugh Beg wrote accurate trigonometric tables of sine and tangent values correct to at least eight decimal places. His works were written in Arabic and Persian and translated into Latin. Ulugh Beg was killed in 853 AH at the age of 57 by his rebellious son, Abdul-Latif "Pidarkush" (killer of his own father), while on his way to Mecca for pilgrimage after being deposed.
526 lunar years ago, on this day in 911 AH, the famous Egyptian hadith scholar, lexicographer, and exegete of the holy Qur'an, Abdur-Rahman Jalal od-Din Suyuti, passed away in Cairo at the age of 62. Born in a family of Persian origin that had migrated from Iran during the Mamluk period and settled in Asyut, in Upper Egypt from where it derived the family name as-Suyuti, he was a follower of the Shafe’i School. An expert in jurisprudence, hadith, history, exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, and Arabic grammar and literature, he earned the title “Ibn al-Kutub” or Son of Books. His books are still taught today in Islamic seminaries. In his exegesis titled "ad-Dur al-Manthour" (Scattered Pearls), he has pointed to the ayahs revealed by God Almighty on the outstanding merits of Prophet Mohammad's (SAWA) Ahl al-Bayt, i.e. Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), Imam Ali (AS), Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS). He also wrote a separate book on the Merits of the Ahl al-Bayt. Suyuti traveled to Syria, Hijaz, Yemen, India and Morocco, and settled down towards the end of his life in his homeland Egypt. Among his works mention can be made of “al-Itqaan fi Uloum al-Qur’an” which means The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’an, the two books on hadith titled “al-Jaame' al-Kabeer” and “al-Jaame' as-Sagheer” and the “Tarikh al-Khulafa” (History of the Caliphs), in which he has exposed the true nature of many of the tyrannical caliphs of the Omayyad and Abbasid dynasties.
401 solar years ago, on this day in 1617 AD, Italian physician and botanist, Prospero Alpini, died at the age of 64 in Padua. Born in Marostica, in the Republic of Venice, he served for a time in the army of the state of Milan, studied medicine in Padua, and then took up the study of botany. To increase his plant knowledge he travelled to Egypt in 1580 as physician at the Venetian consulate in Cairo. During his 3-year stay in Egypt, he seems to have benefitted from the botanical works of the early Islamic scientists. He was taught by the local Muslims the sexual difference of plants which was later adopted by the Europeans as the foundation of the Linnaean taxonomy system. He was also taught and observed how the female date-trees or palms do not bear fruit unless the branches of the male and female plants are mixed together; or, as is generally done, unless the dust found in the male sheath or male flowers is sprinkled over the female flowers. On his return, he resided for some time in Genoa, and later served as professor of botany at Padua. His best-known works are: “De Medicina Egyptiorum”, “De Plantis Aegypti liber” (published in his native Venice in 1591 & 1592) is said to contain the first account of the coffee plant published in Europe. The same work introduced the banana and baobab to Europeans from the Muslim world. Another of his famous works “De Plantis Exoticis” was published in 1629 after his death. The genus Alpinia, belonging to the order “Zingiberaceae” (Ginger Family), was named after him by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus.
354 solar years ago, on this day in 1664 AD, Mustafa II, the 22nd Ottoman Sultan and the 14th self-styled Turkish caliph, was born in Edirne to Sultan Mohammad IV and his Greek Cretan slave-girl, Evemia Voria, who on becoming Muslim was given the Persian-Arabic name Mahpara Amatullah Rabia Golnoush. He succeeded his uncle, Sultan Ahmad I in 1695 and died in January 1704, a few months after being deposed by the Jannisarries, in favour of his younger brother, Ahmad II, for his indulgence in pleasures and negligence of state affairs. In 1696, he had lost to Russia the port of Azov at the mouth of the Don River in the Crimean Peninsula in what is now Ukraine. Next year, he suffered a disastrous defeat in the Battle of Zenta, resulting in the death of 30,000 Turkish troops, and ending his military ambitions in Europe. The subsequent Treaty of Carlowitz in 1699 forced the Ottoman Empire to lose much of its Balkan territories: Hungary and Transylvania to Austria, Morea to the Venetian Republic and Podolia to Poland.
99 solar years ago, on this day in 1918 AD, British women over the age of 30 got the right to vote. Women in West were never considered equal to men by the Christian society, and it was only in the late 19th century and early 20th century they got voting rights. In contrast, Islam has always emphasized on the equality of men and women. It is worth noting that when the Pledge of Allegiance was given to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) by a delegation from Medina, women were also included in it. Another glaring example is the Pledge of Allegiance at Ghadeer-Khom by women following the Prophet’s proclamation of Imam Ali (AS) as vicegerent on God’s orders. Since Islam does not permit physical contact between unrelated men and women, the Prophet ordered a tub of water to be placed, and after Imam Ali (AS) had dipped his hands in it and withdrawn, the women queued up to dip their hands as confirmation of their pledge of allegiance.
96 solar years ago, on this day in 1922 AD, a conference on restriction of arms in world countries ended in Washington, the US, with the signing of a treaty by the five participants – the US, Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. The treaty forbade use of fatal poisonous and chemical gas in wars. A few years later, on June 1925, more countries joined the pact and an additional protocol was signed in Geneva, Switzerland. Unfortunately, this has not stopped the big powers from violating it, as was the use of Agent Orange chemicals by the US in Vietnam, and the recent use in Iraq of phosphorous and depleted uranium bullets. The illegal Zionist entity is also a chief violator of chemical weapons. It is worth noting that the Islamic Republic of Iran remains the prime victim of chemical warfare, because of Saddam’s extensive use of internationally-banned chemical supplied by Germany and the US during the 8-year imposed war for use against Iranian soldiers and civilians, as well as against Iraq’s own Kurdish dissidents – the city of Halabche being the glaring example.
82 solar years ago, on this day in 1936 AD, the coldest region on Earth was identified in the Siberian City of Verkhoyansk, in northern Russia by a scientific delegation after four-year research in cold regions across the globe. Prior to collapse of the Soviet Union, this was the place of exile for political offenders as a form of torture. The temperature falls to as low as 70 degrees Celsius in winter.
55 solar years ago, on this day in 1963 AD, the Moroccan freedom fighter, Amir Abdul-Karim al-Khattabi, passed away in Cairo at the age of 80. He struggled against the Spanish and French domination of his homeland and formed a resistance core in the mountainous regions in what became known as the Berber Republic of Rif. In World War I, Spain, intent on expanding its territory massacred many Muslims. After the termination of war and the growth of the movement of Moroccan revolutionaries, France slaughtered thousands of Muslims that virtually ended the anti-colonial movement after 18 years of resistance. He was exiled to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, and later moved to Egypt, where in the time of President Jamal Abdun-Naser, he presided over the Liberation Committee of the Maghreb from European colonial rule. It was his guerrilla tactics that influenced Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Mao Zedong in China, and Che Guevara in Latin America.
39 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, the revolutionary events in Iran took a crucial turn following the appointment of a provisional government by the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA), with millions of people taking to the streets of Tehran and other streets calling with one voice for the resignation of the regime of Shapour Bakhtiar, the prime minister of the fugitive Shah. On this day, General Robert Huyser, sent by the US a month earlier to try to rally support for the tottering Pahlavi regime, left Iran with the failure of his suspicious mission.
30 solar years ago, on this day in 1988 AD, the Iranian scholar, historian and freedom fighter, Ibrahim Mir-Fakhraie, passed away. He was born in Rasht in northern Iran and after completing his education in Tehran returned to his native Gilan Province to join the movement of Mirza Kuchik Khan Jangali against the local despotism and foreign hegemony. Later he wrote valuable books including the "History of Iran", "Mirza Kuchak Khan the Leader of the Jungle Movement" and "The Role of Gilan in the Constitutional Movement."
8 solar years ago, on this day in 2011AD, Iran opened its first centre to receive satellite images, a new stage in its space program that coincided with celebrations marking the anniversary of the triumph of the Islamic Revolution.