This Day in History (26-4-1396)

Today is Monday; 26th of the Iranian month of Tir 1396 solar hijri; corresponding to 22nd of the Islamic month of Shawwal 1438 lunar hijri; and July 17, 2017, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.

1097 lunar years ago, on this day in 341 AH, the Iranian poet, Abu Ishaq Kesa-i Marvazi, was born in the Khorasani city of Marv (seized by Russia in 1884 and currently in Turkmenistan). He lived in the waning years of the Iranian Samanid Dynasty of Bukhara and the rise of the Turkic Ghaznavid Dynasty of Ghazna. Hence he has written poems in praise of the rulers of these two dynasties, before embracing the truth of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt. Thereafter he devoted his life to writing poetry on the merits of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) as well as his First Infallible Heir, Imam Ali (AS).

814 solar years ago, on this day in 1203 AD, Byzantine emperor, Alexios III Angelos, fled into exile as his capital Constantinople was sacked by savage hordes from western Europe that had banded together to launch the 4th Crusade on Egypt and Palestine. Scared of the power of Muslims the Crusader hordes turned instead upon fellow Christians to ravage and destroy centuries of civilization in a seditious move supported by Pope Innocent III, the head of the Catholic sect of Christianity in Rome, who despised the Greek Orthodox Church.

615 solar years ago, on this day 1402 AD, Zhu Di, ascended the throne of China as the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Though he favoured Confucianism, he called for the construction and repair of Islamic mosques during his reign. Two mosques were built by him during his 22-year reign; one in Nanjing and the other in Xi’an. They still stand today. Repairs were encouraged at other mosques. As part of his desire to expand influence abroad, he sponsored several long voyagers by Admiral “Zheng He” – real name Shams od-Din, who visited Arabia, East Africa, Egypt and the Persian Gulf. The first expedition was in 1405 – 18 years before Henry the Navigator began Portugal’s voyages of discovery. Seven expeditions were launched between 1405 and 1433, reaching major trade centres, as far as Tenavarai (Dondra Head), Hormuz and Aden, and Malindi in north-eastern Africa. After the death of Amir Timur, who intended to invade China, relations between the Yongle Emperor and Amir Shakhrukh’s kingdom of Persia and Transoxania improved, and the two exchanged official delegations on several occasions. Chen Cheng, the Chinese envoy to Samarqand and Herat, and the Iranian envoy, Ghiyas od-Din Naqqash, have left detailed accounts of their visits to each other’s realms. The Iranians spent 5 months at the court of the Yongle Emperor. According to Naqqash, the main handler at the Chinese court was one Mowlana Haji Yusuf Qazi, who held an important office in Nanjing and knew Arabic, Mongolian, Persian, and Chinese languages. Naqqash in his diary of travels took note of China’s wealthy economy, huge urban markets, efficient courier system, the hospitality of his hosts at the courier stations in providing comfortable lodging and food, and the fine luxurious goods and craftsmanship of the Chinese.

530 solar years ago, on this day in 1487 AD, Shah Ismail I, the Founder of the Safavid Empire of Iran, was born in Ardabil to the head of the Safaviyya Sufi order, Shah Haidar, and his wife Martha – daughter of the Aq Qoyounlu ruler, Uzun Hassan, by his Greek wife Theodora, known as Despina Khatun. In 1500, as the direct descendant of the famous mystic, Safi od-Din Ardabeli, he launched his campaign in Erzinjan (presently in Turkey). He crowned himself in Tabriz as king of all Azarbaijan after defeating Shirvan-Shah and taking control of Baku with a 7,000 force of the Turkic tribes of Rumlu, Shamlu, Ustajlu, Qajar, Afshar, Zul-Qadr, Tekulu, and Varsak, known collectively as Qizl-Bash or ‘Red-Heads’ from the colour of their caps. By 1509, he unified all of Iran, Iraq, parts of Anatolia, Caucasus, Central Asia, and western Afghanistan, assuming the title of Shah of Persia. After a 23-year reign he passed away at the age of 37. As an adventurous personality, it could be said he gave to Iran its present national and religious identity. The dynasty founded by him lasted 235 years and revived Iran’s Islamic glories in science, art, architecture, philosophy, culture, Persian literature, and promotion of the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt. He traced his lineage to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) through Hamza, a son of the 7th Infallible Imam, Musa al-Kazem (AS); hence he wielded spiritual influence outside Iran as well, amongst the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt in Iraq, Syria, Anatolia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Deccan Plateau of India. The Timurid prince, Babar, who later founded the Mughal Empire in northern India, regarded Shah Ismail as his suzerain, and so did the Deccan Sultanates of Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur, and Sultan Quli Qutb Shah of Golkandah. He checked the eastward expansion of the Ottomans despite the setback he suffered in the Battle of Chaldiran. Shah Ismail was an accomplished poet in both Persian and his native Azeri, and his penname was “Khatai”.

429 solar years ago, on this day in 1588 AD, Me’mar Sinaan, the chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer for the sultans Suleiman, Selim II, and Murad III, died at the age of 99. He designed over three hundred major structures such as mosques, caravanserais, public baths, and libraries, including the Selimiyeh Mosque in Edirne, the Suleymaniyeh Mosque Complex in Istanbul, the Rustom Pasha Mosque, and the Shahzadeh Mosque. He was a contemporary of Italian Renaissance architects and sculptors, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo.

326 lunar years ago, on this day in 1112 AH, the renowned scholar, Seyyed Ne’matollah Jazayeri passed away at the age of 61 in Pol-e Dokhtar in south-western Iran, where his mausoleum is a site of pilgrimage. He traced his lineage to Imam Musa Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Born in an island in the estuary of the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers near Basra; hence his epithet ‘Jazayeri’; he and his brother Seyyed Najm od-Din had their education in Shiraz. He transcribed books, corrected the transcriptions and wrote glosses, simultaneous with his studies, under great scholars as Sheikh Ja’far Bahrani, the celebrated Mullah Sadra Shirazi, and Seyyed Hashem Ehsai. After marriage, for higher studies he shifted to the Safavid capital, Isfahan, where his teachers were Mirza Rafi Tabatabaei, Sheikh Emad Yazdi, Mohaqeq Sabzevari, Sheikh Horr Ameli, Mullah Mohsen Faiz Kashani, and the famous Allamah Baqer Majlisi. He soon became a great scholar and groomed several students, besides writing books on a wide variety of subjects. After 8 years in Isfahan, he left for Iraq but because of restrictions placed by the Ottoman occupiers he did not stay there for long. Invited by the governor of Khuzestan, he moved to southwestern Iran where he established many mosques and religious schools. He served as Sheikh ol-Islam in the Shustar region, and also preached in southern Iraq where he strove to abolish the enmity amongst Arab tribes. His books include an exegesis of the holy Qur’an titled “Oqoud al-Marjaan”, “Riyadh al-Abraar fi Ma’refat al-Aimmat al-Athaar” (on biographies of the Infallible Imams), “Qissas al-Anbiyya” (Accounts of the Prophets), “Madinat-al-Hadith”, “Hedayat al-Mo’menin” and “al-Anwar an-Nu’maniyya fi Ma’refat an-Nishaat al-Insaniyya”. He also wrote a commentary on “Sahifat as-Sajjadiyya”, the collection of supplications of the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS). Among his descendants are prominent religious scholars, academicians, and statesmen, spread over Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and the Subcontinent, including his great grandson, Seyyed Abu’l-Qassim Jazayeri Shushtari, titled “Mir Alam”, the early 19th century prime minister of the state of Haiderabad-Deccan in southern India. In Lucknow in northern India, his descendants included the scholar Mufti Seyyed Mohammad Abbas Jazayeri Shustari (1809-1869) and his equally scholarly son, Mufti Seyyed Ahmad Ali. 

286 lunar years ago, on this day in 1151 AH, the Iranian Islamic scholar, Mohammad Hussain Khatoun-Abadi, passed away. He was an authority in theology, literature, and hadith. Among his valuable compilations, mention can be made of “al-Alwaah-us-Samawiyyah” (Heavenly Tablets).

246 solar years ago, on this day in 1771 AD, the Bloody Falls Massacre occurred in what is now the Arctic region of Canada, when scores of men, women, and children of the Amerindian Inuit tribe were massacred in cold blood by the party accompanying British explorer Samuel Hearne on his travel to Coppermine River.

227 solar years ago, on this day in 1790 AD, the Scottish philosopher and economist, Adam Smith, died at the age of 67. His book “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” catapulted him to fame, earning him the title of Father of Modern Economics.

206 lunar years ago, on this day in 1232 AH, the jurisprudent and theologian, Mullah Ali Akbar Eiji Isfahani, passed away. He groomed students and authored several books, including “Zubdat-al-Ma’aref”.

108 lunar years ago, on this day in 1330 AH, the Ottomans withdrew from Libya in conformity with the Treaty of Ouchy after losing the war with invading Italy.

105 solar years ago, on this day in 1912, French mathematician and biologist, Henri Poincare, died. His analysis on light, electricity, algebra, geometry, and possibilities calculus are important till this day. His “Poincare Conjecture” holds that if any loop in a given three-dimensional space can be shrunk to a point, the space is equivalent to a sphere. It remained an unsolved problem until Grigori Perelman proved it in 2003. He wrote books in different scientific fields.

104 solar years ago, on this day in 1913 AD, French Muslim thinker, Professor Roger Garaudy, was born in Marseilles. He had PhDs in philosophy, literature, mysticism, and culture and civilizations. During the German occupation of France in World War 2, he was locked up in labour camps from 1940 to 1943 for activities against Fascism and Nazism. For 36 years he was a senior member of the French Communist Party, before his conversion to Islam as a result of the impact on Europe of the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. His courage in exposing the evil of the Zionists made him a target of the enemies of humanity. The release of his book: “The Case of Israel: A Study of Political Zionism” led to his trial, while his other book: “The Founding Myths of Modern Israel” once again infuriated the Zionists. Professor Garaudy was tried in a kangaroo court in France for exposing the myth of the Holocaust. He wrote several books, including “Promesses de I’Islam”. He passed away on June 13, 2012 at the age of 99.

99 solar years ago, on this day in 1918 AD, Russia’s Last Tsar, Nicholas II, was executed at Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks under orders from Vladimir Lenin. His wife, son, 4 daughters, and 4 servants were also executed. The family mass grave was discovered by a former KGB agent in 1979 in the Urals and only 9 bodies were found. The bodies were dug up in 1991. A reburial of the family was carried out in St. Petersburg on July 17, 1998.

81 solar years ago, on this day in 1936 AD, the prominent Iranian calligrapher, Mirza Mohammad Hussein Saifi Qazvini, known popularly as “Emad al-Kuttab”, passed away. In addition to learning the common sciences of his day, he was well versed in Arabic and French, and produced several calligraphic works including “Shahnamah”, of the renowned Iranian poet, Ferdowsi.

81 solar years ago, on this day in 1936 AD, an army rebellion led by General Francisco Franco against the elected leftist Popular Front government of Spain started the civil war that lasted till 1939. Franco ruled as military dictator until his death in 1975 and restoration of the monarchy.

72 solar years ago, on this day in 1945 AD, at the end of World War II, the leaders of Britain, the US, and the USSR held the Potsdam Conference in the German city of the same name to carve up zones of influence in Germany.

49 solar years ago, on this day in 1968 AD, a coup hatched in Baghdad with British help removed Col. Abdur-Rahman Aref and put in power the repressive Ba’th minority party, with Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr as president and Saddam as vice president. For 35 years the Ba’thists terrorized Iraq, in addition to imposing the 8-year war on Iran, until their ouster by their own master, the US in 2003.

44 solar years ago, on this day in 1973 AD, King Mohammed Zaher Shah of Afghanistan was deposed by his cousin, brother-in-law, and former Prime Minister, Mohammed Daoud Khan, while in Italy for eye surgery, after a 40-year reign. Five years later in 1978, Daoud who abolished the monarchy and ruled as president, was killed in a communist coup. In 2002, after an absence of 29 years, Zaher Shah returned to Kabul as private citizen, and died in 2007 at the age of 93.

30 solar years ago, on this day in 1987 AD, France unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran after years of open hostility against the Islamic Revolution and military and financial support for the MKO terrorist outfit as well as the repressive Ba’th minority regime of Saddam throughout the US-imposed war. At the same time, France refused to pay the one-billion-US dollar loan which it had borrowed from Iran before the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

AS/MG

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