This Day in History (19-06-1397)
Today is Monday; 19th of the Iranian month of Shahrivar 1397 solar hijri; corresponding to 29th of the Islamic month of Zi’l-Hijjah 1439 lunar hijri; and September 10, 2018, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
2228 solar years ago, on this day in 210 BC, the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang, died at the age of 50 after drinking mercury in quest of the elixir of life and immortality. At the age of thirteen he became King Zheng of the Qin dynasty and twenty-five years later after he had conquered all of the other warring states and unified China proper, rather than maintain the title of "king" borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Emperor. His self-invented title "emperor", as indicated by his use of the word "First", would continue to be borne by Chinese rulers for the next two millennia. He also worked with his minister Li Si to enact major economic and political reforms aimed at the standardization of the diverse practices of the earlier Chinese states. His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into a single Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system, as well as the city-sized mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terracotta Army.
1119 lunar years ago, on this day in 320 AH, grammarian and hadith narrator, Abu-Bakr Mohammad ibn Ahmad Khayyat, died. He was of Iranian stock from Samarqand in Central Asia, which is now in the present day Republic of Uzbekistan. He went to Iraq for higher studies and settled there after visiting different cities. Among his works is "Ma'ani al-Qur’an".
847 solar years ago, on this day in 1171 AD, Kurdish adventurer Salah od-Din Ayyoubi, following his rather strange appointment as vizier of the Fatemid Ismaili Shi’ite Muslim Dynasty of Egypt, Hijaz, and parts of Libya, treacherously betrayed his benefactors by abolishing the 262-year rule of the Ismaili caliphate with the declaration of the khutba in Cairo in the name of al-Mustadi, the 33rd Abbasid caliph of Baghdad. The last and 14th Fatemid ruler, the 22-year old al-Adid, who since assuming power in 1160 as a minor, was at the mercy of his constantly feuding courtiers, was found dead a few days later. The curtain thus came down on an empire which at its peak ruled Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Sicily, Hijaz, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and for a very brief period Baghdad. Salah od-Din persecuted the Egyptians by forcing them to become Sunnis. He also burned books and the written heritage of the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) in Egypt. Salah od-Din then turned against his own liege lord, Noor od-Din Zengi the Turkic ruler of Syria, who had sent him under his uncle Shirkoh to Fatemid Egypt to ward off Crusader invasions. In 1185, some eleven years after Noor od-Din’s death, Salah od-Din seized Damascus and Aleppo, forcibly married his master’s widow, and then sweeping across the rest of Syria, took Bayt al-Moqaddas by defeating the Crusaders in 1187, although he had refused to participate in Noor od-Din’s campaigns against the European occupiers. The short-lived Ayyubid Dynasty collapsed in Egypt by 1250 with the rise of the Turkic Mamluks, and in Syria it fell to the Mongols in 1260.
669 solar years ago, on this day in 1349 AD, Jews who had survived the massacre in Strasbourg, Germany, earlier in this year, were burned to death by Christians in the Germany city of Constance. In Strasbourg on February 14, over a thousand Jews were publicly burned to death by Christian mobs while the survivors driven away from the city as part of the pogroms the Church used to frequently conduct against the followers of Judaism in Europe, at a time when Jews living in Islamic lands enjoyed all the freedom and privileges of Muslims, even rising to post of ministers. The massacre followed the deadly bubonic plague of 1348 which was blamed on the presence of Jews in Christian lands. The practices and behaviour of the Jews were also responsible for such massacres, because as money-lenders the Jews charged high usury and manipulated the economy, which brought about serious problems. European chroniclers report that the Jews were so arrogant that they were unwilling to grant anyone else precedence, and those who dealt with them, could hardly come to an agreement with them. This ruthlessness of the Jews, coupled with their slandering of Prophet Jesus and his Virgin mother, Mary (peace upon them), used to be the reason for their frequent massacres by Christians in Europe. Until the beginning of the 18th century, Jews were forbidden to remain in town in any European country after 10 pm, and heavy taxes were levied on them, including a special tax to be paid for any horse that a Jew would ride or bring into the city.
509 solar years ago, on this day in 1509 AD, an earthquake known as “Qiyamat-e Kuchak” (The Lesser Judgment Day) hit Istanbul at about 10 pm. Its epicenter was the Sea of Marmara and it had an estimated magnitude of 7.2 on the surface wave magnitude scale. Forty-five days of aftershocks followed the earthquake, as well as a tsunami. Over 10,000 people died.
195 solar years ago, on this day in 1823 AD, the famous South American revolutionary leader, Simon Bolivar, was named President of Peru. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, he played a key role in Hispanic America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas. Following the triumph over the Spanish Monarchy, Bolivar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, which was named Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. He led Venezuela, Colombia (including Panama at that time), Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to independence. He died in Colombia at the age of 47, and after initial burial there, his remains were transferred for permanent burial to his hometown Caracas. Bolivar had become a member of the secretive Zionist outfit "Freemason" while studying in Europe in his youth.
163 solar years ago, on this day in 1855 AH, Robert Koldewey, the German archaeologist who discovered the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (in modern Iraq), thus confirming its historical existence and it was not just a legend, was born in Blankenburg, Brunswick. His excavations for 18 years from 1899-to-1917, unearthed many of Babylon's features including the outer walls, inner walls, foundations of the ziggurat of Marduk, Nebuchadnezzar's palaces, the wide processional roadway which passed through the heart of the city and the Ishtar Gate. He developed several modern archaeological techniques including a method to identify and excavate mud brick architecture (made necessary at Babylon because the Gardens were built using mainly unfired mud bricks). The terraced gardens were built by the Babylonian king for his consort, the Iranian Mede princess to remind her of her green mountainous homeland. Koldewey died on 4th February 1925 at the age of 69.
101 lunar years ago, on this day in 1338 AH, the prominent activist of Iran’s Constitutional Era, Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani, was martyred, thus ending the uprising in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz against the despotic Qajar Dynasty. After acquiring Islamic sciences, he struggled against the injustices of the monarchial system. He strove to awaken the people against the infiltration of foreign powers, believing that the root cause of the problems of the Islamic ummah, were the oppressive rulers and their colonial masters. Following the ouster of Mohammad Ali Shah in 1327 AH and his fleeing from Iran, Khiyabani was elected to the parliament in Tehran as representative of the people of Tabriz, from where he launched his uprising following signing of the ominous pact with Britain in 1337 AH by the corrupt Prime Minister Wosouq od-Dowlah. After succeeding in taking charge of the administration of Tabriz, he was captured in an unequal battle with the governmental forces and executed.
99 solar years ago, on this day in 1919 AD, Britain, France and the victorious Allied forces of World War 1 imposed the Treaty of Saint-Germain on the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire, recreating Poland and Hungary after several centuries, and setting up the new multi-ethnic countries of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia – both of which disintegrated in the 1990s. Italy, the Soviet Union and Romania also gained some territories of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
70 solar years ago, on this day in 1948 AD, Prominent Chinese historian, Zhang Chengzhi, who is China’s most influential contemporary Muslim writer, was born in Beijing to Hui ethnic parents. As a teenager Zhang was influenced by communism and was the first person to call himself a "Red Guard"; using it as his pen name during his student days. He began his writing career in 1978, with the publication of a poem in Mongolian entitled "Son of the People" and a Chinese-language short story "Why does the Rider Sing?" In 1984, however, Zhang quit his job at the China Writers' Association and moved to China's Northwest, spending six years living with the Muslims of Xihaigu, Ningxia. His time there resulted not only in his reconversion to Islam and, in one critic's words, his "open renunciation of Chinese culture", but also in what is easily his most famous book: “History of the Soul” – a work which explores personal and religious conflicts during 172 years of development of the Sufi Jahriyya tariqah in China's northwest, interwoven with his own observations. This was the second-most popular book in China in 1994. His work repeatedly touches on the themes of martyrdom, everlasting tradition, and resistance to materialism and urban life. His writings have influenced people both in China and abroad.
64 solar years ago, on this day in 1954 AD, a major earthquake jolted southwestern Algeria, near Orleansville. The city was destroyed and 10,000 people lost their life. Tens of thousands of Algerians became homeless and a heavy blow was dealt to the national economy.
44 solar years ago, on this day in 1974 AD, Guinea-Bissau in West Africa gained independence from Portugal after over a century-and-a-half of colonial rule. It was once part of the great Mali Muslim Empire. Islam is the fastest growing religion, with over 60 percent adherents, while Christians are less than 10 percent in this country. It has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and shares borders with Senegal and Guinea.
41 solar years ago, on this day in 1977 AD, Tunisian Hamida Jandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, was the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
39 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, the prominent Iranian religious scholar and exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleqani, passed away due to heart attack at the age of 74. He was involved in the political developments from an early age, and in 1963 was jailed by the Pahlavi regime for participating in the 15th of Khordad uprising (June 5, 1963), following the arrest of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). In the subsequent years till the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he was incarcerated or banished to the country’s remote places. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Taleqani was named by the Imam as Head of the Revolutionary Council as well as the Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran. In the first round of elections for the Assembly of Experts, he was elected as the Tehran’s representative for an 8-year term. He was a prolific writer and among his works is an exegesis of several surahs of the Holy Qur’an as well as a book titled "System of Ownership in Islam".
36 solar years ago, on this day in 1982 AD, the prominent jurisprudent, Ayatollah Zia od-Din Amoli, passed away at the age of 78 after a long period of illness in his hometown Tehran. As a boy he accompanied his father, the prominent philosopher Mohammad Taqi Amoli, to the famous seminary of holy Najaf in Iraq, where his sharp intellect enabled him to master Islamic sciences and attain the status of Ijtehad. He returned to Iran, and following the agreement between Egypt’s al-Azhar Islamic University and the Qom Seminary, he was sent to Cairo by Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Hussain Borouerdi to foster proximity between the Sunnis and Shi’a Muslims. For years he lobbied in Cairo with Egyptian authorities to include the teaching of Ja’fari jurisprudence at al-Azhar, but was not given any positive response. As a result, he returned to Tehran and busied himself in teaching and preaching. He was a staunch supporter of the Islamic Revolution against the repressive Pahlavi regime.
14 solar years ago, on this day in 2004 AD, prominent Yemeni religious and political leader, Seyyed Hussain Badr od-Din al-Howthi at-Tabatabaie, was martyred at the age of 48 in the Marran District, Saada Governorate, along with twenty of his companions by the Yemeni army. Son of the prominent Zaydi Shi’a Muslim religious scholar, Seyyed Badr od-Din, he founded the group “Shabab al-Momineen” (Believing Youth) in 1990 to teach youngsters about Shi’a Muslim beliefs and their history. Today, this group is the core of the “Ansarullah Movement” that is defending Yemen in the face of the US-supported state terrorism of Saudi Arabia and its accomplices in the Persian Gulf Sheikhdoms. From 1993 to 1997, Seyyed Hussain al-Howthi represented the al-Haqq Islamic party in the Yemeni parliament. He later left for Syria and then Iran, along with his father and Abd ul-Malik (present leader of Ansarullah), to study in the seminary of holy Qom. He and his group became profoundly influenced by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, and by Seyyed Hassan Nasrollah, the Leader of Lebanon’s legendry anti-terrorist movement, the Hezbollah. His body was secretly buried by the government, and years later was retrieved by the Ansarullah and reburied in Saada on 5 June 2013, in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of Yemenis.