This Day in History (25-04-1396)

Today is Sunday; 25th of the Iranian month of Tir 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 21st of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1438 lunar hijri; and July 16, 2017, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.

1395 solar years ago, on this day in 622 AD, the Islamic lunar calendar began. It was fixed in 638 AD, 16 solar years after the passing away of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), when confusion arose regarding the dates and years to be followed. During his caliphate Omar ibn Khattab, who had banned the written compilation of the Prophet’s hadith and even rejected the collection of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an in book form as Mus’haf after having deprived the Prophet’s divinely-decreed heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) of the political rule of the Muslim state, received a letter from the governor of Basra that the absence of any years on the correspondence he receives from Medina, make it difficult for him to determine which instructions were most recent. Omar was perplexed, and as usual the magnanimous Imam Ali (AS) came to his rescue by suggesting that the Islamic calendar be dated according to the Prophet’s Hijra (migration) from Mecca to Medina. Omar accepted the Imam’s advice, but as per the insinuation of Osman ibn Affan he fixed the date of the beginning of the Islamic year on the 1st of Moharram, in line with the pagan Arab customs, even though the Prophet had migrated on the eve of Rabi al-Awwal.

1339 solar years ago, on this day in 678 AD, Ayesha bint Abu Bakr died in Medina at the age of 64. She was one of the nine wives Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had taken out of social necessity in the last ten years of his life, following the passing away of the First Lady of Islam, Omm al-Momineen (Mother of True Believers), Hazrat Khadija (SA), with whom he spent 25 years of marital bliss and through her became the father of the noblest-ever lady, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA). Ayesha was killed by the Omayyad ruler Mua’wiyya who had usurped the caliphate and intended to pass it on to his lecherous son, Yazid. Thus, in order to remove a potential opponent to his plan, he devised the death of Ayesha by inviting her to a feast and seating her over a booby-trapped limestone well into which she fell and died. He had not forgotten Ayesha’s rabble-rousing role decades earlier against his Omayyad kinsman the 3rd caliph, Othman bin Affan, whom she used to call an apostate and who was eventually murdered. He was also well aware that she was the cause of the first armed fitna (sedition) in Islam when she led an army of oath-breakers against the Prophet’s rightful heir, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) at Basra in Iraq, where she was soundly defeated, but magnanimously treated and sent back respectfully to Medina. 

1345 lunar years ago, on this day in 92 AH, the Muslim forces, led by Tareq Ibn Ziyad won a decisive victory in the Battle of Guadalete by routing the Visigoth Christian army of King Roderick and rapidly conquering much of southern Spain. Soon all of Spain and Portugal were liberated by the Muslims, who subsequently crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into France. Tareq had earlier, after crossing the Mediterranean from the northwestern African coast, landed on the island known ever since as Gibraltar (corruption of the Arabic “Jabal at-Tareq” – Rock or Mount of Tareq). He was governor of Tangiers under Musa Ibn Nusayr, the conqueror and Emir of the Province of Ifriqiya (western Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco).Tareq was made governor of Spain by Musa, but was called to Damascus by the jealous Omayyad caliph, Walid I, who also relieved Musa of the overall charge of Ifriqiya, Spain and the islands off the coast of France. There are three different accounts of the origins of Tareq given by Arab historians – he was a Persian from Hamedan; he was an Arab of the Sadf tribe; he was a Berber from North Africa. Musa Ibn Nusayr is also said to be the son of an Iranian Christian, according to the historian Tabari; while others say he belonged to the Lakhmid Arab clan who were Sassanid clients.

1084 lunar years ago, on this day in 354 AH, the Iranian Sunni Muslim compiler of hadith, Abu Hatem Mohammad ibn Hibban al-Basti, from Bast in Khorasan, passed away. He was a Shafe’i, and the actual name of his compilation is “at-Taqasim wa’l-Anwa”, which is commonly referred to as “Sahih ibn Hibban”. Many Sunni scholars regard it next only to the “Sahihs” of the two other prominent Iranian Sunni Muslim hadith compilers, Bukhari and Muslim, while the Egyptian scholar, Jalal od-Din Suyuti, places it fourth after Ibn Khuzayma Naishapuri’s “Sahih”, and above the hadith collection of the five other Iranian Sunni Muslim authorities – i.e. Ibn Maja Qazvini, Abu Dawoud Sijistani, Abu Isa Tirmizi, Ahmad ibn Shu’ayb Nasai, and Hakem Naishapuri. It is worth noting that despite mentioning some of the unsurpassed merits of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), all these Sunni Muslim hadith authorities, who were Iranians, failed to have any direct contact with the Infallible Imams or their disciples, because of the fears of the Abbasid regime.

805 solar years ago, on this day in 1212 AD, The Battle of al-Uqab or Las Navas de Tolosa, occurred in southern Spain between Muslims and Christians some 64 km from the city of Jaen (corruption of the Arabic Khayyan or crossroads of caravans). It led to the defeat of the self-styled caliph, an-Nasser of the al-Muwahidin (Almohad) Empire of Morocco-Andalusia by the combined armies of the kingdoms of Portugal, Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. It marked the decline of Islamic Spain after five centuries of ascendancy, and was the outcome of a crusade against Spanish Muslims called by Pope Innocent III involving Christian mercenaries from all over Europe. The debacle was because of laxity on the part of the self-styled caliph, who proud of his vast army, left unguarded small passes in the mountainous terrain through which the Christians led by Castile’s King Alfonso VIII sneaked in for the ambush while the Muslim camp was asleep. The result was a great slaughter of Muslim forces, as an-Nasir fled the battlefield. Alfonso followed up his victory by immediately taking Ba’eza and Ubeda. The effects of the Muslim defeat did not become apparent until two decades later after 1233, when the Almohad Empire disintegrated owing to dynastic squabbles. The lack of a central leader, made the Muslim hold on Spain slip rapidly before the Christians, with the important Islamic centres of Cordova and Seville, gradually falling to them.

801 solar years ago, on this day in 1216 AD, Innocent III, the most powerfully politicized Pope of the Catholic sect of Christianity, and the most hostile towards Muslims and Jews, died suddenly while on a visit to Perugia, Central Italy, at the age of 56 after an 18-year reign. He appeared in a vision the same day to nun, St. Lugarda in her monastery at Aywieres in faraway Belgium, engulfed in flames as punishment for three of the most cardinal sins he had committed in life, and for which he said (before disappearing in anguish) that he would languish for centuries in purgatory. Named Lotario dei Conti di Segni at birth in Italy to a Roman family that produced nine popes, he believed in the superiority of the Church over temporal rulers, and on being selected pope, strove to make the kings and emperors of Europe subordinate to his authority. He also decreed that all Jews in Christendom should wear special identifying markings on their clothing. He also persecuted as heretics all those Christians that dissented with the Catholic Church. An instance was his ordering of wars that resulted in the massacre of 20,000 men, women and children of the Albigenses or Cathar sect of southwestern France, who viewed the Catholic Church as corrupt. Pope Innocent III, in total disregard to the Muslim-Christian peace accord in Palestine, mobilised the 4th Crusade for invasion of Egypt, which, however, because of fears of facing the powerful Ayyubids, was diverted towards an easier target, that is, the fellow Christians of the Byzantine Empire, and led to the fall of Constantinople and its plunder – all of which the Pope legitimized, regardless of the permanent rift he was causing between the Greek and Latin Churches. Earlier in 1212 he had ordered a crusade involving Christian mercenaries against the al-Muwahhadin Muslim rulers of Islamic Spain that resulted in the unmanly ambush of Las Navas de Tolosa (Battle of al-Uqab in Arabic), and huge massacre of civilians, incidentally on July 16.   

334 solar years ago, on this day in 1683 AD, the Manchu Qing Dynasty naval forces under the traitorous commander Shi Lang defeated the Kingdom of Tungning in the Battle of Penghu near the Pescadores Islands. Founded in 1642, the Qing Dynasty lasted till 1912, and in 1917, the monarchy was abolished.

145 solar years ago, on this day in 1872 AD, Norwegian explorer, Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen, was born. In his twenties, he interrupted his studies in medicine to join the first winter expedition to the Antarctic, sailing in 1897 as first mate on the Belgica, a Belgian expedition. On his next voyage (1903-06) he established the Northwest Passage. In 1904 he located the site of the North Magnetic pole. When he turned his attention to the Antarctic, he achieved his quest to be the first to reach the South Pole (14 Dec 1911). After three unsuccessful attempts, he was among the first to cross the Arctic by air in 1926 when he made a flight by dirigible from Spitsbergen, across the North Pole, to Alaska. He died in another flight over the Arctic in June 1928 at the age of 57 during a search for survivors of a shipwreck.

127 solar years ago, on this day in 1890 AD, the Parkinson Disease and how it develops were identified by English physician, James Parkinson. The main reason for this illness is brain malfunctions, and still no certain treatment has been found for it.

108 solar years ago, on this day in 1909 AD, Iran’s Constitutional Revolution forced out Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar as king and replaced him by his son, the young Ahmad Shah. The ousted Shah, who had earlier hired Cossack mercenaries to shell the parliament and attack its members, took refuge in the Russian embassy, which was stormed by the angry people, but he managed to escape and fled to Istanbul, Turkey. British agents derailed the Constitutional Revolution from its goal and the result was abolishment of the weak Qajar dynasty in 1925 and installation of the illiterate and brutal soldier, Reza Khan, as king of the new Pahlavi regime.

72 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD, the US misused science and technology to explode the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico, thereby triggering a race for weapons of mass destruction to the detriment of humanity. The atomic bomb was invented by two refugee German scientists, Professor Rudolph Peierls and Otto Frisch. They designed a “blueprint” for making an atom bomb in 1940 after fleeing to the US from Nazi Germany. It actually began when the Italian-born physicist Enrico Fermi, working in the US, invented an apparatus which produced the first atomic chain reactions. In 1940 both the Americans and British were researching the atom bomb and when the United States entered WW2, the British joined the American “Manhattan Project” and production of the bomb went on ahead in the US, which is the only power to have criminally used the atomic bomb on the hapless Japanese people as field test, when World War 2 was virtually over.

69 solar years ago, on this day in 1948 AD, following resistance, the Palestinian city of an-Nasserah (Nazareth), revered by Christians as the childhood hometown of Prophet Jesus (PBUH), fell to the Israeli troops, and ever since has been under Zionist occupation. The population of this city is still predominantly Arab (99 percent), with Muslims making up 69 percent and Christians 30 percent.

66 solar years ago, on this day in 1951 AD, landlocked Nepal got independence from Britain, which had annexed it in 1816. Nepal, which until 2008 was a monarchy, is now a republic. It covers an area of 140,000 sq km, and borders India and China.

63 solar years ago, on this day in 1954 AD, Henri Frankfort, Dutch-American archaeologist who established the relationship between Egypt and Mesopotamia and documented reconstruction of ancient Mesopotamian culture and art, died at the age of 57. The excavations he directed in Egypt (1922, 1925-29) and Iraq (1929-37) were conducted with exemplary archaeological scholarship. In 1925, Frankfort resumed work which had been started by Naville at Abydos excavating the Osireion, discovered by Petrie (1902) who named it from his interpretation as a symbolic tomb of Osiris. Frankfort’s initial project site was situated to the West of Seti’s Temple but expanded to record the fine reliefs of the temple of Seti itself. He wrote 15 books and monographs and about 73 articles for journals about ancient Egypt, archaeology and cultural anthropology, especially on the religious systems of the Ancient Near East. Among his books are “Kingship and the Gods” and “Review of Cylinder Seals: A Documentary Essay on Ihe Art and Religion of the Ancient Near East”.

38 solar years ago, on this day in 1979 AD, Iraq’s first president of the repressive Ba’th minority regime, General Hasan Ahmad al-Bakr, was ordered by his masters in London and Washington to resign and hand over power to his more brutal vice-president, Saddam, five months after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Saddam instantly launched a reign of terror by imprisoning and murdering prominent religious and political leaders of the long-suppressed Arab Shi’ite majority, including the reputed scholar, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Baqer as-Sadr. He also suppressed the ethnic Sunni Kurds of the north and expelled tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens on the pretext of being of Iranian origin. In September 1980, at the behest of the US, he imposed a brutal war on the Islamic Republic of Iran which raged for 8 years. In 1990, he occupied Kuwait and was driven out seven months later by an international coalition. With his downfall in 2003 at the hands of his own backers, the Americans, 34 years of brutal Ba’th minority rule came to its end.

12 solar years ago, on this day in 2005 AD, in Iraq a terrorist bomber blew up a fuel truck near a crowded vegetable market outside a Shi’a Muslim mosque in Musayyeb town, martyring 98 people. Takfiri terrorists, financed by the US, the Zionist entity and Saudi Arabia, carry out such cowardly attacks in Iraq, Syria and other countries. 

9 solar years ago, on this day in 2008 AD, Lebanon’s legendry anti-terrorist movement, the Hezbollah, in return for the handover of the bodies of two Zionist soldiers, made Israel release five Lebanese prisoners and the bodies of some 200 martyrs. The exchange was the result of indirect negotiations, with the mediation of Germany. Among the liberated Lebanese, were persons from other groups, such as Samir Qantar, who spent almost thirty years in Zionist dungeons, and who was martyred by the Israelis in July 2015 in the Golan Heights of Syria.

AS/ME

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