This Day in History (19-12-1395)
Today is Thursday; 19th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1395 solar hijri; corresponding to 10th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani 1438 lunar hijri; and March 9, 2017, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.
1130 solar years ago, on this day in 886 AD, the Iranian Islamic astronomer, Abu-Ma'shar Ja'far ibn Mohammad al-Balkhi, passed away in the Iraqi city of al-Waset at the age of almost hundred years. Born in the Khorasani city of Balkh (presently in Afghanistan) he spent most of his life in Iraq, especially in Baghdad. He used ancient sources written in Pahlavi, Arabic, Sanskrit, Syriac, and Greek. He believed that all sciences have a divine origin, and the signs of God’s revelation are observed in every science. He has left behind a large number of books; the most important of which include “al-Mudkhal al-Kabir”. Known to Europe by his Latinized name “Albumasar”, he wrote several manuals on astrology that profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through Latin translations, that of Europe. Some of his works that were used by Roger Bacon and others are: "Kitab ad‐Dalalaat ala'l‐Ittesalaat wa‐Qiranaat al‐Kawakeb" (Book of Indications of the Planetary Conjunctions), and "Kitab al‐Milal wa'l-Duwal" (Book on Nations and Dynasties).
880 lunar years ago, on this day in 558 AH, Abdul-Mo'men ibn Ali al-Koami, the founder of the Muwahhedoun (Almohad) State in Morocco and Andalusia, died. His capital was Marrakesh and he made relentless efforts to expand his territories in Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar, and in the east till the borders of Egypt.
820 lunar years ago, on this day in 618 AH, the acclaimed Persian poet and mystic, Farid od-Din Attar Naishapouri, was killed during the Mongol invasion of Khorasan at the age of 78. The son of a pharmacist, he followed his father's profession and led a prosperous life before experiencing an inner revolution that made him turn to mysticism and frequent travels that took him to Iraq and Arabia including holy Mecca, as well as to the different cities of Iran and Transoxiana. One of his valuable prose works is “Tazkerat al-Awlia” on the status of mystics. His poetical masterpieces manifest the power of imagination as is evident by the versified book “Manteq ot-Tair” (Discourse of the Birds). Attar, who in some of his poems also pays tribute to the peerless personality of Imam Ali (AS), had a profound influence on the great Persian poet, Mowlana Jalal od-Din Balkhi Roumi.
798 lunar years ago, on this day in 640 AH, al-Mustansir-Billah, the 36th and penultimate self-styled caliph of the usurper Abbasid dynasty died in Baghdad after a reign of 16 years. His lasting contribution was the founding of the Mustansiriyya Madrasah on the banks of the Tigris. A monumental water-powered alarm clock that announced the appointed hours of prayer and the time both by day and by night was installed in its entrance hall. The original building which survived the Mongol invasion in 1258 AD that threw the Abbasid caliphate into the dustbin of history is now part of the modern al-Mustansiriyya University.
563 solar years ago, on this day in 1454 AD, Italian astronomer, navigator and cartographer, Amerigo Vespucci, whose name the Europeans gave to the new landmass discovered for the Europeans by Christopher Columbus as “America”, was born in Florence. He first served the Portuguese and then the Spanish. He demonstrated that Brazil and the so-called West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern outskirts as conjectured from Columbus' voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass unknown to the Europeans – although the Muslims had known this great landmass and travelled it. He reportedly traveled four times to the hitherto uncharted Atlantic Ocean, and was the first recorded European who landed on what was called America.
160 solar years ago, on this day in 1847 AD, as part of its aggressive and expansionist policies, the US launched its first large-scale amphibious assault on neighbouring Mexico by laying Siege to the port city of Veracruz. The 20-day siege lasting from March 9-to 29, and ended with the surrender and occupation of the city. US forces then marched inland to Mexico City. What are now the southern and southwestern states of the US are occupied Mexican territory.
164 lunar years ago, on this day in 1274 AH, the prominent Iranian Islamic scholar and literary figure, Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Qasim Ordo-Abadi, was born in the northwestern city of Tabriz. Following completion of studies, he left for holy Najaf in Iraq to attend the classes of prominent ulema of his day. After attaining the status of Ijtehad, he returned to his hometown, Tabriz. Ayatollah Ordo-Abadi wrote numerous books. Among his works mention could be made of “ash-Shahaab al-Mobeen fi Ejaaz al-Qur'an al-Kareem” on the Immortal Miracle this heavenly scripture is. He passed away in 1333 AH.
120 solar years ago, on this day in 1897 AD, the great pan-Islamist thinker and pioneer of the anti-colonial struggles of Muslim lands, Seyyed Jamal od-Din Asadabadi, attained martyrdom in Istanbul at the age of 59 on being poisoned on the orders of the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul-Hamid II. Born in Asadabad near the western Iranian city of Hamedan, he honed his skills in religion, philosophy, astronomy, and history. He was well-versed in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, English, French, and Russian languages. He strove for Islamic solidarity and was a staunch opponent of infiltration of colonialists in Islamic lands. At the age of 17, he started his travels abroad, first studying theology in Iraq, and then visiting India, at a crucial period in its history, a year after the British overthrew Wajed Ali Shah of the Naishapuri kingdom of Iranian origin of Awadh, and then in 1857 brutally crushed the uprising by massacring Muslims and exiling to Burma, the last king of the once mighty Timurid Mughal Empire, Bahador Shah Zafar. The young Jamal od-Din was profoundly affected by the events, and lived for several years in the semi-independent Muslim state of Haiderabad-Deccan under patronage of its famous prime minister, Salar Jung Mokhtar ol-Mulk. Here he countered through pamphlets and treatises the “naturist” views of the pro-British Sir Seyyed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Anglo-Mohammadan College that later became Aligarh Muslim University. These were later published in book form for the first time in Haiderabad in 1881 under the title “Haqiqat-e Madhhab-e Naychari wa Bayan-e Hal-e Naychariyan” (Truth about the Neichari Sect and an Explanation of the Necharis). After a brief detention in Calcutta, he had to leave India under pressure from the British, and after performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, he returned to Iran. A few years later in 1866 he left for Afghanistan to serve as advisor to Amir Dost Mohammad Khan. On being expelled from Kabul by the next ruler, Sher Ali Khan, he went to Egypt in 1871, where until his expulsion in 1879, he won several admirers and students – the most prominent being Shaikh Mohammad Abduh, who wrote a commentary on the Nahj al-Balagha (the Collection of Imam Ali’s [AS] sermons, letters and maxims). Forced to leave Egypt, he went to Istanbul, from where he travelled around Europe, visiting Paris, London, Munich, Moscow and St. Petersburg. From France in 1884, he published the daily “al-Orwat al-Wosqa” and from Britain “Zia al-Khafeqin” to awaken the Muslims. He was invited back to Iran by Nasser od-Din Shah Qajar to serve as political advisor, but soon fell out with the autocratic king and took refuge in the holy shrine of Seyyed Abdul-Azim al-Hassani, before being expelled seven months in 1891 to Iraq. He informed the most prominent marja’ of the times, Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi of the ruin brought on Iranian economy by the granting of the tobacco concession to the British. The Ayatollah’s fatwa against tobacco consumption saved Iran. In 1892, he was invited to Istanbul by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul-Hamid. Here, several of his disciples including Mirza Reza Kirmani came to visit him. It was Reza Kirmani who assassinated Nasser od-Din Shah in 1896. Jamal od-Din Asadabadi eventually fell out with the Ottoman Sultan and was poisoned to death. His reformist and pan-Islamist ideas were opposed by colonial powers and the repressive Muslim regimes. Among his works is “ar-Radd ala ad-Dahriyyiin” (Refutation of the Materialists), in answer to Darwin's absurd theory of evolution titled “On the Origin of Species”. Seyyed Jamal od-Din Asadabadi, who at times called himself ‘Afghani’ in order to conceal his Iranian and Shi’a Muslim identity, profoundly impacted many thinkers of his age and the subsequent generations. Among these were the famous Persian-Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal Lahori, Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Founder of Pakistan), and prominent Indian Muslim educationist, Abu’l Kalaam Azad. In Egypt, he deeply impacted Mohammad Abduh, Rashid Redha, Ali Abdur-Razeq, Qasim Amin, Lutfi as-Sayyid and Osman Amin, while in Turkey: Namik Kemal, Said Nursi and Mohammad Akef Ersoy. The Constitutional Movement that triumphed in Iran in 1905 was also influenced by him.
83 solar years ago, on this day in 1934 AD, Russian Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who became the first recorded human being to travel into outer space, was born in the Soviet Union. He performed the first manned orbital flight in Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1). In 1968, he was killed in an air accident.
72 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD, the Bombing of Tokyo by the United States Army Air Forces began, one of the most destructive bombing raids in history. A total of 334 US B-29 Super-Fortresses attacked Tokyo with 120,000 fire bombs, devastating the city and killing over a hundred thousand innocent men, women, and children.
28 solar years ago, on this day in 1989 AD, the well-known Iranian astronomer and mathematician, Dr. Abbas Riazi Kermani, passed away at the age of 72. Following completion of his academic studies, he left for France. In Paris, he continued his studies in mathematics and astronomy and got a PhD in Astronomy from Sorbonne University. After returning to Iran, he started lecturing at Tehran University and other higher education institutes. In 1966, he prepared Iran’s official calendar. He wrote several books, including: “Moqadama bar Nujoum-e Aali” (An Introductory to Astronomy).
25 solar years ago, on this day in 1992 AD, Menachem Begin, one of the founders of the illegal Zionist (Israel), died at the age of 79. He was from Belarus and had no connection to Palestine or to the ancient Israelites. He illegally entered British-ruled Palestine and set up the terrorist outfit Irgun. He played a leading role in the massacre of innocent Muslim men, women and children, and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of others in 1948, at the illegal birth of Israel. He was so ruthless and bloodthirsty that even his own colleague, David Ben-Gurion, used to call him a second Hitler. After holding ministerial posts in several Zionist cabinets, he was appointed as premier in 1977. Following the cold-blooded slaughter of over 5,000 Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila Camps of Lebanon in 1982 by his henchman, Ariel Sharon, he was forced to step down from his post, before melancholia and death overtook him.
5 solar years ago, on this day in 2012 AD, tens of thousands of Bahraini people flooded a major highway in one of the largest protest rallies against the repressive British-American backed Aal-e Khalifa minority regime, which mercilessly attacked the peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and fire arms. The popular uprising in the Persian Gulf island state has continued despite the imprisoning, torture, and murder of innocent men, women, and children, in addition to desecration of mosques, Hussainiyahs and even copies of the holy Qur’an by the regime forces, in collaboration with the Saudi occupation forces.