This Day in History (07-06-1397)
Today is Wednesday; 7th of the Iranian month of Shahrivar 1397 solar hijri; corresponding to 17th of the Islamic month of Zil-Hijjah 1439 lunar hijri; and August 29, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1136 lunar years ago, on this day in 303 AH, Ali ibn Abdullah titled Saif od-Dowla (Sword of the State), the founder of the Hamdanid emirate of Aleppo which included northern Syria and western parts of Iraq, was born in Iraq to Abdullah Abi’l-Hayja, the ruler of Mosul. He was the younger brother of Hassan, titled Naser od-Dowla, the ruler of Mosul, and belonged to the Banu Taghlib Arab tribe. The family followed the school of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt and was famous for its patronage of scholars. Saif od-Dowla is famous for his military exploits against the Byzantine Empire, and is considered the epitome of the Islamic-Arab chivalrous ideal. He began his career as ruler of Waset in central Iraq and became involved in the power struggles of the Abbasid caliph, who ruled from nearby Baghdad. He realized that greater potential lay to the west, in Syria, then under the dominion of the Ikhshidid Turkic dynasty, which ruled Egypt as well. With the support of the local Banu Kilab tribe, he captured Aleppo and soon took Damascus. He then marched toward Egypt and took Ramla, but was unable to make further progress. His most important concern was with the Byzantine Empire. Almost every year he would mount raids into Asia Minor (western Turkey), and won a great victory near Germanikeia, killing Patrikios Leo Maleinos. He surrounded himself with prominent intellectual figures such as the celebrated Iranian-Islamic philosopher, Abu Nasr al-Farabi, and noted poets, including al-Mutanabbi and Abu Firas Hamdani – the latter was his cousin and brother-in-law and wrote the famous ode “ar-Rumiyaat” while in Byzantine captivity. Saif od-Dowla himself was a poet, and his delicate poem on the rainbow shows high artistic ability.
1039 solar years ago, on this day in 979 AD, Fazlollah Abu Taghlib al-Ghazanfar, titled Uddat od-Dowla, the third ruler of the Hamdanid Shi’a Muslim Emirate of Mosul in Iraq, was killed following his defeat in battle near Damascus in Syria. Son of the famous Nasser od-Dowla, his reign was troubled, being marked by conflicts with some of his brothers, antagonism with the various branches of the Buwaiyhids of Iran for influence in Baghdad, and attacks by the Byzantine Empire. His relations with the Iranian Buwaiyhid emir of Iraq, Izz od-Dowla Bakhtiyar, were initially hostile, but the two later concluded an alliance. In 978, Jazira and the emirate of Mosul was occupied by the Buwaiyhids of Shiraz under Adhud od-Dowla, and he fled to the Fatemid-controlled parts of Syria, where he tried to secure the governorship of Damascus, and became involved in local rivalries which resulted in his defeat in battle and death.
951 lunar years ago, on this day in 488 AH, the famous Spanish Muslim scholar, Mohammad Ibn Nasr al-Andalusi al-Humaydi, passed away in Baghdad at the age of 68. Born on the Mediterranean island of Majorca in a family from Cordoba (Qurtuba), he was a student of Ibn Abd al-Barr and later of Ibn Hazm, under whose influence he adopted the Zahirite School of jurisprudence, founded by Dawoud ibn Khalaf az-Zahiri of Isfahan (that was widespread among Sunni Muslims in Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Africa and Spain before the Turkic rulers forcibly replaced it with the Hanafi School – also founded by an Iranian, Abu Hanifa, the son of a Zoroastrian convert to Islam from Kabul). Due to persecution of Zahirites in Spain by the Malikites, Humaydi left his homeland for good. Initially, he went to Mecca to perform the Hajj, before traveling to Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and finally settling in Iraq. An outstanding scholar in hadith, history, Arabic grammar and lexicography, he wrote several books. Among his works is the biography of the notables of Islamic Spain, entitled “Jadhwat al-Muqtabis”, which is a mine of information on scholars who frequently travelled between the furthest points of the Islamic east and the west, such as the Iranian polymath, Ziryab who flourished at Cordoba at a time when Christian Europe was in the Dark Ages. Humaydi also wrote “at-Tafsir al-Ghareeb ma fi as-Sahihayn”, which is a linguistic commentary on the two “Sahihs” (canonical works of Sunni Muslims) of the Iranian hadith compilers, Mohammad bin Ismail Bukhari and Muslim Naishapuri.
883 solar years ago, on this day in 1135 AD, Mustarshid-Billah, the 29th self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid regime, after a reign of 17 years, was killed by assassins, believed to be hired by the Seljuqid sultan, Mas’oud, who resented the caliph’s bid to assert independence in political affairs. When Mustarshid launched a military campaign against Mas'oud near Hamedan in western Iran, he was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner by the Sultan, but pardoned on promise not to quit the palace. Left in the royal tent, he was found murdered.
660 lunar years ago, on this day in 779 AH, Mujahid Shah, the 3rd ruler of the Bahmani Sultanate of the Deccan (southern India) was assassinated at the age of 22 in his capital Gulbarga after a rule of only three years, by his jealous uncle, Daud Shah, who in turn was killed a month later on the orders of his niece Rouh Parwar Agha (sister of the deceased Mujahid Shah) and replaced by her younger brother, Mohammad Shah II. The court language of the Bahmanis, who traced their origin to the pre-Islamic Iranian hero Bahman, was Persian, and they promoted Iranian culture, art and architecture.
497 solar years ago, on this day in 1521 AD, the Ottoman Turks, a year after accession of Sultan Suleiman, captured Belgrade fort in Serbia and transformed it into a major city in Europe by building schools, libraries, markets, mosques, baths, and other public amenities. Belgrade was a predominantly Muslim city for over three centuries until it was occupied by Christians who destroyed its wonderful Islamic architecture and killed and expelled its mostly European Muslim population.
492 solar years ago, on this day in 1526 AD, the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Suleiman defeated Hungary in the Battle of Mohacs, in which Louis II, the last Jagiellonian king of Hungary and Bohemia, lost his life. The Muslim victory led to the partition of Hungary for several centuries between the Ottoman Empire, and the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria. Only in the 20th century would Hungary regain its political independence.
477 solar years ago, on this day in 1541 AD, the Ottoman Turks during the reign of Sultan Suleiman captured Buda, the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom, and for almost the next century-and-a-half ruled it Budin Eyalet.
414 solar years ago, on this day in 604 AD, the Iranian empress of Hindustan (northern India), Hamida Banu Begum, died at the age of 77 in Agra and was buried by her son, Moghal Emperor Jalal od-Din Akbar, in Delhi in the mausoleum of her husband, Emperor Naseer od-Din Humayun, who had died half-a-century earlier on his return from Iran and regaining of the kingdom with assistance provided by Safavid Emperor Shah Tahmasp 1. She was the daughter of Iranian Shi’a Muslim scholar, Ali Akbar Jami, a descendent of the famous mystic Shaikh Ahmad Jaam of Khorasan. When Humayun lost the throne of Delhi to the Afghan adventurer, Sher Shah Souri, she accompanied her husband to Iran to the court of Shah Tasmasp in Qazvin, visiting on the way the tomb of her ancestor, Ahmad Jam in Torbat-e Jam, and the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad. Soon after her return to India, she was widowed, but was held in high esteem by her son and the whole court, even occasionally presiding over state matters.
386 solar years ago, on this day in 1632 AD, the English philosopher and physician, John Locke, was born. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in his most significant work, “Essay Concerning Human Understanding” in which he analysed the nature of human reason, and promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge. He was against absolute monarchies and believed that the ruling systems should gain the approval of the majority of people. His other famous works include “Two Treatises of Government”, and “A Letter Concerning Toleration”. He died in 1704.
75 solar years ago, on this day in 1943 AD, the famous Kenyan photographer of Indian origin, Mohamed Amin was born in Eastleigh, Nairobi. He developed interest in photography at school. In 1963, he founded Camerapix Company in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania and moved the company to Nairobi three years later. During the 1970s, he became one of the most relied-upon African news photographers, reporting on wars and coups all through the continent. His most influential moment came when his photos on the 1984 Ethiopian famine, brought international attention to the crisis and eventually helped start the charity wave. Apart from Ethiopian famine, he contributed exclusive photos of the fall of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and of Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam. He was not just active in Africa, but also in the Middle East. He covered the Palestinian Black September uprising to seize control of Jordan in September 1970. He was able to move among the Palestinian forces where Western journalists could not. In 1991, Mohammad Amin lost his left arm during an ammunition dump explosion in Ethiopia during the Ethiopian Civil War. He died in November 1996 when his flight Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked and crashed into the ocean near Grande Comore. He has authored numerous books, including “Journey through Pakistan”, and “Pilgrimage to Mecca”; and covered various themes like East African Wildlife and the Uganda Railway.
69 solar years ago, on this day in 1949 AD, the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. In this manner, nuclear weapons were no longer the monopoly of the US and a “balance of terror” was established between the two superpowers. The resulting climate known as the Cold War continued between the East and the West blocs until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The nuclear weapons threat, however, continues to loom large in view of the refusal of the big powers, especially the US, to dismantle their doomsday arsenals. The other nuclear powers are Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and the illegal Zionist entity called Israel.
66 solar years ago, on this day in 1952 AD, the Source of Emulation, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Taqi Khwansari, passed away. Born in the central Iranian city of Khwansar, he mastered theology, jurisprudence, and philosophy at the seminary in holy Najaf in Iraq. Alongside the Iraqi people, Grand Ayatollah Khwansari participated in their war against the British forces. He was held captive by the British and was sent to exile in Singapore. After four years in exile, he returned to Iran and became a lecturer at the Qom seminary. He continued to struggle against the British colonialists in Iran, and supported the Iranian nation’s struggles for nationalization of the oil industry.
43 lunar years ago, on this day in 1396 AH, Ayatollah Aqa Rahim Arbab Isfahani passed away in his hometown Isfahan at the age of 99. He was a student of leading ulema of the Isfahan seminary such as Abu’l-Ma’ali Kalbasi, Akhund Mullah Mohammad Kashi, and the Gnostic, Mirza Jahangir Khan Qashqai. He was a fellow student with Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Boroujerdi.
42 solar years ago, on this day in 1976, Bengali poet, writer, musician, and revolutionary, Qazi Nazr-ul-Islam, passed away at the age of 77. He was the national poet of Bangladesh. His poetry and music espoused Indo-Islamic renaissance and intense spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. As a result he was imprisoned several times. He was familiar with Persian language, and deeply influenced by Hafez Shirazi. His poems on Islam and social justice have been translated into Farsi.
31 solar years ago, on this day in 1987 AD, Palestinian cartoonist, Naji Salim al-Ali, noted for the political criticism of the Arab regimes and the illegal Zionist entity, in his works, died in hospital, after being shot in the face and wounded five weeks earlier, outside the London office of the Kuwait daily, al-Qabas, for which he drew political caricatures. He drew over 40,000 cartoons, which often reflected Palestinian and Arab public opinion and were sharply critical commentaries on Palestinian and Arab politics and political leaders. He is perhaps best known as creator of the character Handhala, pictured in his cartoons as a young witness of the satirized policy or event depicted, and who has since become an icon of Palestinian defiance.
29 lunar years ago, on this day in 1410 AH, the great scholar, Ayatollah Seyyed Morteza Ferouzabadi, passed away at the age of 81. Born in holy Najaf, he studied under such leading scholars as Seyyed Abu’l-Hassan Isfahani and Seyyed Ali Qazi Tabatabai. An avid researcher who wrote several books, his most important work is titled “Faza’el al-Khamsa min as-Sihah as-Sitta”. As the title suggests, in this authoritative 3-volume book, he has extracted from the six canonical Sunni hadith books the unsurpassable merits of the Five Peerless Personalities, that is, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), Imam Ali (AS), Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS). Another of his well-researched work is titled “as-Saba’ min as-Salaf” on the dubious characteristics of seven of the leading Salaf or early converts, who are mistakenly revered by certain Muslim sects despite having caused the greatest sedition in Islam.
28 solar years ago, on this day in 1990 AD, the Source of Emulation, Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Shahab od-Din Mar’ashi Najafi, passed away at the age of 96 and was laid to rest at the doorstep of his famous library in the holy city of Qom. He mastered theology, jurisprudence, hadith, exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, philosophy, and principles of ethics at the seminaries of Kazemain and holy Najaf in Iraq. After attaining the status of Ijtehad he returned to Iran and started to lecture and research at the Qom Seminary. He was a supporter of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, late Imam Khomeini (RA), in the struggles against the Shah’s despotic regime. He has left behind a large number of books on theology, jurisprudence, hadith, history and genealogy. Grand Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi also founded the public library in the holy city of Qom, which houses more than 300,000 books – many of them rare manuscripts collected by him.
15 solar years ago, on this day in 2003 AD, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim was martyred at the age of 64 years, along with at least 125 other Muslims, while stepping out of the holy shrine of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) in Najaf after leading the Friday Prayer in its courtyard, due to a bomb blast carried out by US-backed Salafi and Ba’thist terrorists. Son of the Late Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin al-Hakim, he was active against the repressive Ba’th minority regime, suffering bouts of imprisonment, before seeking asylum in 1980 in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he headed the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SAIRI) in exile. On 12 May 2003, he had returned to Iraq after 23 years in exile, and was greeted by thousands of admirers from Basra till his hometown Najaf, where became active in the struggle against the American occupation of the country.