Aug 24, 2018 10:23 UTC

Today is Friday, 2nd of the Iranian month of Shahrivar 1397 solar hijri; corresponding to 12th of the Islamic month of Zil-Hijjah 1439 lunar hijri; and August 24, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.

1939 solar years ago, on this day in 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted, burying in volcanic ash and molten lava the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae, which were notorious as vice dens of the Empire. An estimated 20,000 people were struck by divine wrath. When discovered some 17 centuries later, the sites became astonishing archaeological time capsules. Today, Pompeii, whose excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a Roman city, including the erotic and sinful ways of the pagans, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here it is necessary to recall the warnings of God Almighty in the holy Qur’an to mankind to travel around the world to see the ruins of the past nations and reflect on the fate that befell unrepentant sinners. Pompeii and its inhabitants were destroyed after due warnings years before the major eruption of Vesuvius. In 62 AD, a major earthquake had devastated most of the city. Although preceded over the past decades with small-scale tremblers, this severe earthquake was clearly a divine warning to the people to leave their sinful and erotic ways or else face the wrath of the All-Merciful God that finally descended 17 years later. Many inhabitants moved to other cities, fearing divine punishment, while others remained, or came from other cities in pursuit of carnal pleasures and were struck by divine wrath.

1608 solar years ago, on this day in 410 AD, Rome was sacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. This was the first time in almost 800 years that Rome had fallen to a foreign enemy. The previous sack of Rome had been carried out by the Gauls under their leader Brennus in 387 BC. The sacking of 410 is seen as a major landmark in the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

1303 lunar years ago, on this day in 136 AH Abu'l-Abbas as-Saffah, the first self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, died after a rule of four years, following the overthrow of the Godless Omayyad dynasty, and was succeeded by his crafty and cruel brother, Mansour Dawaniqi. His real name was Abdullah and he claimed descent from Abbas, an uncle of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Although he returned the vast orchard of Fadak to the Prophet's progeny, from whom it was seized by the first and second caliphs, he usurped political power of the state himself, despite the deceptive slogan of his political-military campaign to return to the Ahl al-Bayt the rule of the Islamic realm. The reason he is known as 'as-Saffah' (Shedder of blood), is because of his ruthless massacre of the Omayyads, whose male members he exterminated, almost to the last single person, except for a youth called Abdur-Rahman, who managed to flee Syria to Spain, where he seized power and set up a dynasty that ruled for a century. Saffah also dug up the graves of the Omayyads in Damascus, including that of their founder, Mu'awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan, and burned their bones and skeletons.

833 solar years ago, on this day in 1185, the Greek city of Thessalonica was sacked by Normans of the Kingdom of Sicily. It was one of the worst disasters to befall the Byzantine Empire. The Norman invasion degenerated quickly into a full-scale massacre of the city's inhabitants; some 7,000 corpses being found afterwards. The siege is extensively chronicled by Thessalonica’s archbishop, Eustathius, who was present in the city during and after the siege. The Normans occupied Thessalonica until mid-November, when, following their defeat at the Battle of Demetritzes, they evacuated it. Coming on the heels of the Byzantine massacre of the Latins in Constantinople in 1182, the massacre of the Thessalonians by the Normans deepened the rift between the Orthodox Byzantine Greeks and the Catholic Latins.

669 solar years ago, on this day in 1349 AD, six thousand Jews were massacred by Christians in Mainz, Germany, after being blamed for the bubonic plague. In Europe, throughout history, Jews were denied rights and subjected to periodic massacres for betraying Prophet Jesus and slandering his virgin mother, Mary (peace upon them).

502 solar years ago, on this day in 1516 AD, the decisive Battle of Marj Dabiq (44 km from Aleppo), resulted in a resounding victory for the Ottoman Sultan Selim I over the Mamluk Sultan al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri of Egypt-Syria-Hijaz, ending within the next five months the 267-year old Mamluk Dynasty and transforming the Ottomans from a realm on the margin of Islamic lands located in Asia Minor and south-western Europe, into a huge empire encompassing the historical cities of Cairo, Damascus, Bayt al-Moqaddas and Aleppo, as well as the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. The wars between the two Turkic powers had started in 1485 in southern Anatolia, when Bayazid II instead of concentrating on European campaigns turned eastwards to annex the lands of fellow Muslims in Anatolia, much to the relief of Spanish Christians besieging the Emirate of Granada, the last stronghold of Muslims in Spain, whose ruler had appealed to the Mamluks for help. Thus in August 1516, Selim, two years after his narrow victory at Chaldiran in Azarbaijan over Shah Ismail I of Persia, invaded Syria, since he greatly feared that the Iranians, who still controlled Iraq, might reorganize and counterattack in view of the widespread influence of the Safavids in Syria and Anatolia (modern day Turkey), and their recent sending of an embassy to the Republic of Venice, through Mamluk ports in the Levant. In the summer of 1516, Sultan Qansuh al-Ghawri marched into Syria for Asia Minor with a large army, but was deceived by Sultan Selim who made false promises of friendly ties, sent costly gifts, and played the sectarian card by saying that the real enemy is the Shi’ite Muslim Safavid dynasty of Iran. The Ottoman ruler, having bribed the chief Mamluk courtiers, including the puppet Abbasid caliph of Cairo, Mutawakkel III, launched a treacherous surprise attack that caught the Egyptian forces unprepared and resulted in the death of Sultan al-Ghawri. Aleppo and Damascus were seized as the Ottomans marched unobstructed towards Egypt, defeating the Mamluks on their way in Ghaza, Ridhwania, and finally in January 1517 in Cairo, where Selim I not only styled himself the first non-Arab caliph (with fatwas from court mullahs), but also received allegiance from the Sharif of Hijaz.

499 lunar years ago, on this day in 940 AH, the great religious scholar, Shaikh Ali ibn Abdul-Aal al-Ameli, known as Mohaqqeq Karaki, passed away. He was born in the Jabal Amel region of Lebanon, where after completing studies, he moved to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq for higher studies. He was invited to Iran for his wisdom and erudite knowledge, and handed over affairs of state by Shah Tahmasp Safavi. He, however, declined to assume direct political authority and asked the Shah to carry on state affairs as his representative, while he himself handled all jurisprudential and theological matters. He established seminaries in the then Iranian capital, Qazvin, and other cities of Iran, earning the title of Mohaqqeq, which means authoritative researcher. He groomed many great scholars both in Iran and his homeland Lebanon, including the celebrated Zain ad-Din al-Ameli, who was persecuted and cruelly killed, thereby earning the title of Shaheed Thani (Second Martyr). Mohaqqeq Karaki played a leading role in enlightening Iranians with the legacy of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt, and wrote several books that are taught to this day, including “Jame' al-Maqased”, and “Resala-e Edalat”.

446 solar years ago, on this day in 1572 AD, the slaughter of French Protestants at the hands of Catholics began in Paris as Charles IX of France attempted to rid the country of Huguenots. Charles, under the sway of his mother Catherine de Medici, believed the Huguenot Protestants were plotting a revolution. A total of 50,000 Huguenots including their leader, Admiral Gaspard de Chastillon, Count the Coligny, were killed in and around Paris. Known as the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, it led to the conviction in Europe that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion.

204 solar years ago, on this day in 1814 AD, British troops captured the city of Washington the capital of the US and burned down the White House and other government buildings including the Capitol in the war of 1812-14 in retaliation for the US attack on Canada and the destruction of many public buildings in York (present day Toronto). The war ended in truce, followed by recognition of the USA by Britain, which until then regarded the 13 breakaway colonies of New England as rebellious territories and sought to bring them under the crown.

197 solar years ago, on this day in 1821 AD, Mexico became free from Spanish colonial rule. Mexico has an ancient history, dating back to almost 5,000 BC, as the cradle of important civilizations; the last of which was the Aztec Empire, which the Spanish invaders destroyed and massacred thousands of the indigenous people. Mexico was in fact the gateway of the Spanish invaders for subjugation of the Americas. After three centuries of colonial rule over Mexico, Spain's power waned and in early 19th century the Mexican uprising for independence started. Spanish forces brutally crushed the Mexicans twice, before the 1821 uprising. Mexico covers an area of nearly 2 million sq km. It shares borders with the US in the north, and with Guatemala and Belize in the south. Mexico has long coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean.

127 lunar years ago, on this day in 1312 AD, renowned Iranian calligraphist, scholar, poet, physician, and mathematician, Abu’l-Fazl Majd od-Din Mohammad bin Fazlollah Savoji, passed away. He was a master of different styles of calligraphy, such as “”ta’liq”, nasta’liq”, “shikasta” and “naskh”, in addition to authoring books and treatises on medicine and mathematics, and composing a “divan” of Persian poetry. One of the top four intellectuals of the long 50-year era of Nasser od-Din Shah Qajar, among his immortal works are the calligraphic plaques on the walls of the holy shrine of Imamzadah Seyyed Abdul-Azim al-Hassani in Rayy.

89 solar years ago, on this day in 1929 AD, the Wailing Wall Uprising started in Bayt al-Moqaddas, a week after the illegal Zionist migrants from Europe had attacked Palestinian Muslims on the western side of the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque. The uprising quickly spread and the British forces in league with armed Zionist terrorist gangs brutally confronted the Palestinians, resulting in the death of many people and injury to several others. Over 800 Palestinians were tried in the Kangaroo courts of the British and given various sentences for defending their homes and hearths against the illegal armed Zionist intruders.

89 solar years ago, on this day in 1929 AD, controversial Palestinian leader, Mohammed Abdur-Rahman Abdur-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini, known as Yasser Arafat, was born in Cairo. His father was from Gaza, and because of his deviationist nature in attending Jewish prayers at the synagogue and reading the works of the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, he was often beaten by his father. When his father died in 1952, he did not come from Egypt (where he was studying) to attend the funeral, nor did he visit his father's grave upon his return to Gaza. While studying in Cairo, he became an Arab nationalist and distanced himself from Islam. He dropped his first name "Mohammad Abdur-Rahman" along with his father's name "Abdur-Raouf" and the family name "al-Husseini", while retaining his grandfather's name, "Arafat" to which he added "Yasser". He turned into a revolutionary after a meeting in Cairo with visiting Iranian revolutionary scholar, Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Mojtaba Navvab Safavi, who told him that Zionist-occupied Palestine was in dire need of strugglers for its cause. In 1959, while working in Kuwait, he along with Khalid al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) and Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), founded the guerrilla group "FaTaH", which is a reverse acronym of the Arabic term "Harakat at-Tahrir al-Watani al-Filastini" (or Palestinian National Liberation Movement), and should not be confused with the Islamic term "Fath" (conquest). In 1964, when the Arab League set up the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), FaTaH joined it. Arafat, on being expelled in 1966 from Syria where he had based himself to recruit personnel, built relations with President Jamal Abdun-Nasser of Egypt, and in 1969, was elected PLO Chairman. In 1971 the PLO and Arafat were expelled from Jordan and moved to Lebanon to continue the struggle against the Zionist entity. In 1982, Arafat and the PLO were expelled from Lebanon following the Israeli invasion, and moved to Tunis where in 1988, a year after start of the Islamic Intefadha in the occupied land, he betrayed the Palestinian cause by recognizing Israel. Earlier in late 1980, he had made a similar strategic blunder by showing ingratitude to the Islamic Republic's favours and siding with Saddam when that bloodthirsty dictator of the Ba'th minority regime imposed the 8-year war on Iran. In 1994, after a year of his acceptance of the Oslo Accord, which is considered a sellout of the Palestinian cause, he was allowed by Israel to settle in the occupied land. In late 2004, after effectively being confined within his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli army, Arafat became ill, fell into a coma and died in a Paris hospital in France on 11 November 2004 at the age of 75 – poisoned by the Zionists, after having served their purpose. Critics have charged him with mass corruption, secretly amassing a personal wealth estimated to be USD $1.3 billion by 2002 despite the degrading economic conditions of the Palestinians. He is often denounced for being too submissive in his concessions to Israel.

50 solar years ago, on this day in 1968 AD, France exploded a hydrogen bomb over a South Pacific testing ground and became the world's fifth thermonuclear power. The Canopus test used a 3 tonne device suspended at an altitude of 600 m from a balloon over Fangataufa Atoll, 41 km south east of Moruroa. This was France's largest nuclear device. It produced a yield of 2.6 megatons, and used a lithium-6 deuteride secondary jacketed with highly enriched uranium. The resulting contamination of the atoll kept it off limits to humans for six years, after which France resumed its nuclear programme there with underground tests. The dangerously nuclear-armed powers exploit the NPT and IAEA, and use sanctions, threats and acts of terrorism, to pressure independent countries such as Iran from their inalienable right to use peaceful nuclear energy, despite the Islamic Republic’s declaration that Islam forbids manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.

40 solar years ago, on this day in 1978 AD, Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Ali Andarzgou, was martyred by the Shah's regime. He started his struggles at the age of 19 and joined the Islamic Coalition Group after acquaintance with Hojjat al-Islam Nawwab Safavi, who was eventually martyred. Andarzgou was among those who planned the revolutionary execution in 1965 of the Shah's Prime Minister, the notorious Hassan-Ali Mansour, who mortgaged Iran's sovereignty by signing the scandalous Capitulation Accord granting judicial immunity to US nationals in Iran. For the next 13 years, Andarzgou, who was sentenced to death in absentia, continued his underground activities against the Shah's despotic regime, until he was identified and attained martyrdom in an armed clash.

40 solar years ago, on this day in 1978 AD, Professor Mohammad Parvin Gonabadi, passed away at the age of 75. A student of the famous scholar, Adib Naishapuri, he took to the teaching profession, and following acquaintance with the celebrated lexicographer, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, he joined his team in the preparation of the voluminous Persian lexicon, “Lughatnameh”. Among the works of Professor Gonabadi is the Persian translation of Ibn Khaldoun’s “Muqaddamah”, and the editing of Maybodi’s “Kashf al-Asrar” and the “History of Bala’mi”.

35 lunar years ago, on this day in 1404 AH, Ayatollah Mirza Mohammad Baqer Ashtiyani, passed away at the age of 81 in Tehran and was laid to rest in Rayy. Son and grandson of religious scholars who were active during the Constitutional Movement, he was a product of the holy seminary of Najaf, where he studied under such prominent ulema as Ziya od-Din Iraqi, and Seyyed Abu’l-Hassan Isfahani. Upon return to Iran he was engaged in teaching and writing books.

27 solar years ago, on this day in 1991 AD, Ukraine in Eastern Europe emerged independent on the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Before the Russian occupation in the 18th century the southern part of what is called Ukraine was heavily populated by Muslims, especially the Crimean Tartars, who were decimated by the Slavs or deported to other places. The Crimean Khanate was a major power for three-and-a-half centuries between 1441 and 1793, with a rich and flourishing Islamic civilization.

8 solar years ago, on this day in 2010 AD, Iran successfully test fired an upgraded version of a short-range surface-to-surface missile. The third generation of the Fateh-110, which means "conqueror" in Persian and Arabic, has an improved range of 250 km and better precision than previous models.