This Day in History (20-11-1396)
Today is Friday; 20th of the Iranian month of Bahman 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 22nd of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal 1439 lunar hijri; and February 9, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1051 solar years ago, on this day in 967 AD, Emir Saif od-Dowla, the Hamdanid ruler of Aleppo and most of Syria, passed away. Named Ali, he was a son of Abu'l-Hayja Abdullah bin Hamdan, and was a staunch follower of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt. He was the younger brother of Nasser od-Dowla the Emir of Mosul. He distinguished himself in battles against the Byzantines and could be called the Warden of the Marches of the Islamic frontier because of his thwarting of the attempts of the Christians to plunder Syria. Saif od-Dowla was a man of letters and surrounded himself with prominent intellectual figures, notably the great Arabic poets, al-Mutanabbi and Abu Firas Hamdani, as well as the noted Iranian Islamic philosopher Abu Nasr Farabi. Saif od-Dowla himself was a poet; his delicate short poem on the rainbow shows high artistic ability.
577 solar years ago, on this day in 1441 AD, Amir Ali Shir Navai, the acclaimed Central Asian politician, mystic, linguist, painter, and poet, was born in the Khorasani capital, Herat, which is currently in Afghanistan. He is considered the Father of Chagatai Turkic literature, and besides being a prolific writer, he composed poems in Persian under the penname “Fani”. He studied in Mashhad, Herat and Samarqand, and when his childhood friend, Sultan Husayn Bayqarah, became the principal Timurid ruler of Khorasan, he joined his service. For almost 40 years he devoted his efforts to cultural developments including fine arts and the building of public utility works like schools, mosques, caravanserais and hospitals. In Mashhad, he carried out extensions in the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS), the 8th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He is regarded as a national hero in the modern republic of Uzbekistan and is famous all over the Turkic-speaking world. He passed away at the age of 63 in his hometown and his body was taken to Mashhad for burial in the porch he had built at the holy shrine.
532 solar years ago, on this day in 1486 AD, the Mamluks of Egypt defeated the Ottoman general, Qaragoz Mohammad, near Adana in Cilicia in what is now south central Turkey, following an invasion of Anatolia by Sultan Bayezid II, who started the 6-year war with the Egyptians. A stronger force dispatched from Istanbul was again defeated by the Mamluks in March and Cilicia returned to Egyptian control. The relationship between the Ottomans and the Mamluks was adversarial as both states vied for control of the spice trade and domination of Syria. The two empires were, however, separated by a buffer zone occupied by Turkmen states such as Qaramanids, Aq Qoyunlu, Ramadhanids and Zulqadarids, which regularly switched their allegiance from one power to the other. The war ended in 1491 with the boundaries remaining unchanged. Some 26 years later, the Ottomans overran Syria and Egypt and ended the fellow Turkic Mamluk Empire.
378 solar years ago, on this day in 1640 AD, Murad IV, the 17th Ottoman Sultan and the 9th self-styled Turkic caliph, died in his capital Istanbul at the age of 28 after a reign of 17 years during which he killed four of his own brothers. His order on his deathbed to kill his only surviving but mentally unsound brother was not carried out, and thus the Ottoman line was saved from extinction, when he was succeeded by Ibrahim Deli (the Deranged). Murad IV has earned lasting notoriety for his treacherous and brutal nature. In 1635, a year after his disastrous war with Poland, taking advantage of the weakness of Shah Safi in Isfahan, he intensified the intermittent war raging with the Safavids since 1623 by marching into Azarbaijan and seizing Tabriz before invading Iran-ruled Iraq. In 1638, he occupied Baghdad through a ruse after a 40-day siege, following heavy losses inflicted by the Iranian defenders on his troops including the death of Grand Vizier Mohammad Tayyar on the final day. Murad then had the bulk of the population of Baghdad butchered in despite the promises he had made to spare them on surrender. His generals arranged a sort of tableau, in which the heads were struck off one thousand captives by one thousand headsmen at the same moment, while Murad enjoyed the gruesome sight. He sadistically remarked: "Trying to conquer Baghdad was more beautiful than Baghdad itself." Met with fierce Iranian resistance, Murad IV had to end the protracted war through conclusion of the Qasr-e Shirin Treaty in 1639 which returned Tabriz and Azarbaijan to Iran, but Baghdad remained under the Ottomans, while the Caucasus was divided between the two powers, in which eastern Armenia, eastern Georgia, and Daghestan stayed Persian, and western Georgia and western Armenia came under Ottoman rule. Of dubious nature, in his domestic policies Murad IV banned alcohol in Istanbul and ruthlessly killed all those found drinking wine, but was a habitual drinker himself. This self-styled Turkic caliph has admitted to this fact in his couplets: "Even if the rivers became wine, they wouldn't fill my glass." In another poem he has said: "The wine is such a devil that I have to protect my people from it by drinking all of it".
369 solar years ago, on this day in 1649 AD, parliament abolished the monarchy and declared England a republic under Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector on his victory in the civil war and execution of King Charles I on charges of treason. In 1658 Cromwell died and was succeeded by his son, who nine months later was forced to resign under pressure from army commanders. In 1660, the monarchy was restored and Charles II was recalled from exile in Europe and crowned king.
228 lunar years ago, on this day in 1211 AH, the Iranian astronomer and mathematician, Mirza Hussein Doost Mohammad Isfahani, was born. He passed away at the age of 81 years and was laid to rest in the holy city of Najaf in Iraq.
125 solar years ago, on this day in 1893 AD, Suez Canal builder, Frenchman Ferdinand De Lesseps, and his associates were sentenced to prison for fraud in the incomplete Panama Canal project of Central America that was completed a decade later by the US.
53 solar years ago, on this day in 1965 AD, prominent Bengali Muslim scholar of pre-partition India, Khan Bahadur Ahsarullah, passed away in Nalta Sharif, Satkhira District of East Pakistan – as Bangladesh was then known – at the age of 92. He was an educator, litterateur, Islamic theologist and social reformer. He completed his MA in Philosophy from Presidency College, Kolkata in 1895, and went on to serve as first Muslim Headmaster of Rajshahi Collegiate School. In 1911, he was elected a member of the Royal Society (MRSA) of London. He served as a Senator of the University of Calcutta, and was especially active in the movement to establish the University of Dhaka after establishment of Pakistan. The Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology of Bangladesh is named after him. He wrote around 100 books on different contents. Among his notable works are: “Teachers’ Manual”, “History of the Muslim World” and “Prophet Mohammad (SAWA)”.
41 solar years ago, on this day in 1977 AD, Russian Soviet aircraft designer, Sergey Vladimirovich Ilyushin, who created the famous Il-2 Stormovik armoured attack aircraft, the most used and the most produced plane during WWII by the Soviet Union Air Force, died at the age of 83 in Moscow. After the war he worked for a short time on jet bombers and designed one of the most successful planes of that time, Il-28. In the 1950s he stopped working on warplanes and concentrated his studies on turboprop and turbojet powered passenger and transport planes. The civil aircraft he designed include: the Il-12 twin-engine passenger aircraft (1946), the Il-18 Moskva four-engine turboprop transport (1957), the Il-62 turbojet passenger carrier (1962), and the Il-86 airbus, which made its first flight in 1976.
39 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, mercenary soldiers of the tottering Pahlavi regime attacked an air force base in Tehran following the pledge of allegiance given a day before by air force officers and personnel to the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). The public on learning of this dastardly attack, rushed to the airbase and despite being lightly armed overcame the Shah's mercenaries to rescue the air force personnel. This was an important development in the events of the Islamic Revolution that triumphed two days later.
32 solar years ago, on this day in 1986 AD, Muslim combatants of Iran launched the Val-Fajr-8 Operations against the Ba'thist occupiers and after liberating Iranian territory crossed the Arvandroud or Shatt al-Arab waterway to take control of the Faw Peninsula on the Iraqi side of the border that shattered the morale of the enemy forces. Over 50,000 of the heavily-armed Ba'thist troops were either killed or wounded in this heroic operation while 600 tanks and 45 aircraft were destroyed. Saddam's Western and Eastern backers, who used to supply his forces state-of-the-art weaponry besides intelligence on movement of Iranian troops, were amazed and astounded by the speed and effectiveness of the Iranian defenders.
26 solar years ago, on this day in 1992 AD, following the landslide victory of Islamic groups in the parliamentary elections in December 1991, the Algerian military rulers, on the orders of the West, annulled the election results and banned the victorious Islamic Salvation Front as illegal. This measure sparked violence in the country that claimed numerous lives over the following years.
21 solar years ago, on this day in 1997 AD, Master Seyyed Abu’l-Fotouh Arabzadeh “Rassam”, the Father of Modern Iranian Carpets, passed away at the age of 82. Born in Tabriz, he had a passion for discerning the different shades of colour, many of which were his own creation. He started his career in Tabriz under guidance of his father, as a painter and designer of carpets. In Tehran he continued this art and became an expert designer of the traditional ‘Kashi’ or mosaics as well. He was also an expert in music, sculpture, calligraphy, and drama-writing. In 1995, he donated 66 fine hand-woven carpets to Tehran Municipality for establishment of the Foundation of Culture and Carpet-Art. Some of his creations are named: “Shores of Imagination”, “Cage of Colours”, and “Conquest of Somnath”.
15 solar years ago, on this day in 2003 AD, China announced that its scientists had discovered a massive underground lake, containing some 35 billion cubic feet of water, in the arid northwest beneath the Taklimakan Desert of the Uighur Muslim populated Xinjiang Province.
8 lunar years ago, on this day in 1430 AH, the great Gnostic Grand Ayatollah Shaikh Mohammad Taqi Bahjat passed away in holy Qom at the age of 96 and was laid to rest in the mausoleum of Hazrat Fatema Ma’souma (SA). Born in Foumen in Gilan Province, after preliminary studies in his hometown he left for the holy city of Karbala in Iraq at the age of 14 for higher studies. Four years later he moved to holy Najaf, where he attended the classes of prominent ulema, including Ayatollah Murtaza Taleqani, Seyyed Abu’l-Hassan Isfahani, Mirza Mohammad Hussain Naeeni, and Seyyed Ali Qadhi Tabatabaei. Ayatollah Bahjat paid special attention to piety, self-cultivation and moral perfection. After 15 years of study in Iraq during which he mastered several branches of Islamic sciences including the philosophy of Abu Ali Ibn Sina, he returned to Iran and settled in holy Qom, where he attended the classes of Grand Ayatollah Hujjat Kuhkamrei and Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Boroujerdi. On attaining Ijtehad, he started teaching theology and jurisprudence for almost 50 years at his house. He composed poems of praise and eulogy of the Infallible Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), especially the Martyr of Karbala, Imam Husain (AS). He has left behind a large number of compilations, including: “Jama'e al-Masa’el”, and “Zakhirat-al-Ebaad”.