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Friday, 26 February 2016 06:02

This Day in History (07-12-1394)

This Day in History (07-12-1394)

Today is Friday; 7th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1394 solar hijri; corresponding to 17th of the Islamic month of Jamadi al-Awwal 1437 lunar hijri; and February 26, 2016, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.

 

2763 solar years ago, on this day at noon in 747 BC, the “Anno Nobonassari” began in the reign of King Nabu-Nasir of Babylon, which the ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy, calls in his work “Almagest”, as beginning of the world’s first recorded calendar based on astronomical calculations. The Babylonian Chronicle covering the years 747 to 668 BC, the best preserved exemplar of this genre, was possibly collated from Babylonian astronomical diaries. The lists of celestial phenomena started with the lunar eclipse of 747–746 BC, a spectacular conjunction of the moon and the planets that may have inspired the commencement of recording of accurate astronomical observations. Although it is claimed that it was from the reign of Nabu-Nasir onward that the movements and duration of the stars were recorded, according to Islamic texts, it was Prophet Idris (Enoch), who centuries before the Great Deluge of the days of Prophet Noah, taught astronomy and devised the calendar. This is more or less confirmed by the 3rd century BC Hellenized Babylonian priest, Berossus, who in his work Babyloniaca, writes: “Nabu-Nasir gathered the records of his predecessors and destroyed them, thus ensuring that the history of the Chaldean kings began with him.”  In view of these facts, it could be said that Nabu-Nasir’s reign marks the reform of the Babylonian calendar, introducing regular calculated intercalary months, the eighteen-year cycle texts and perhaps even the zodiac. Over two centuries later with the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great of Persia, the astronomically advanced calendar of the Mesopotamian civilizations was adopted and fully Persianized by the Iranians.

1157 lunar years ago, on this day in 280 AH, the Iranian linguist and poet of Arabic language, Abu’l-Fazl Ahmad, known as Ibn Abi Taher Tayfur, passed away at the age of 76. Born in Baghdad to Tayfur, who hailed from the Khorasani city of Marv (presently in Turkmenistan), he played an important role in the revolutionizing of Arabic literature. He was the first writer to devote a book to writers. He was buried in the Bab ash-Sham cemetery in the section reserved for notables. His works include “Kitab al-Manthour wa’l-Manzoum” (or Book of Prose and Poetry), in three volumes, which is the first attested multi-author anthology. He also authored “Kitab Baghdad” (or Book of Baghdad), in 6 volumes, of which only one volume has survived. He also compiled “Balaghat an-Nisa” (or Eloquence of Women), in which he has cited the famous sermon of Omm Kolthoum, the daughter of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (AS), delivered in the aftermath of the tragedy of Karbala.

1156 lunar years ago, on this day in 281 AH, the Iranian polymath, Abu Hanifah Ahmad ibn Dawoud Dinawari, passed away at the age of 70 in his birthplace Dinawar – a Kurdish region halfway between Hamadan and Kermanshah in western Iran. He studied astronomy, mathematics and mechanics in Isfahan and Arabic philology and poetry in Kufa and Basra. He also excelled in agriculture, botany, metallurgy, history and geography. His most renowned contribution is “Kitab an-Nabaat” or Book of Plants, for which he is considered the founder of Islamic botany, for his scientific classification and listing of thousands of varieties of different plants, with detailed discussion from their evolution to birth and subsequent death. He is also among the very first writers to discuss the ancestry of the Kurdish people. He wrote a book on this subject titled “Ansaab al-Akraad” (Ancestry of the Kurds). All his works are in Arabic including “Kitab al-Kusouf” (Book of Solar Eclipses), “Kitab al-Akhbar at-Tiwaal” (General History), “Kitab al-Boldaan” (Book of Lands – Geography), and “Kitab ash-She'r wa'sh-Shu'ara” (Book of Poetry and Poets). Dinawari's works also deal with astronomy and meteorology to agriculture. It describes the astronomical and meteorological character of the sky, the planets and constellations, the sun and moon, the lunar phases indicating seasons and rain, the atmospheric phenomena such as winds, thunder, lightning, snow, floods, valleys, rivers, lakes, wells and other sources of water.

862 solar years ago, on this day in 1154 AD, King Roger II of Sicily died at the age of 59 in his capital Palermo. Sicily, which for over three centuries was a Muslim island and part of the empire of the Fatemid Shi’ite Muslim Dynasty, was seized by his father, Roger I – a Norman adventurer from Normandy in northern France. Influenced by the rich culture and civilization of Islam, Roger II drew around him distinguished Muslim scientists, architects, statesmen, and even soldiers. The famous Islamic geographer Seyyed Mohammad al-Hassani al-Idrisi and the Spanish Muslim polymath Abu Salt al-Andalusi – who had formerly served the Fatemids in Egypt – were among the dignitaries at the Norman court in Palermo. Idrisi – a descendent of Imam Hasan (AS), the elder grandson and 2nd Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) – wrote for Roger the book “Nuzhat al-Mushtaaq fi-Ikhteraaq al-Afaaq”. Known in Latin as “Tabula Rogeriana”, it is a description of the world and the first world map ever drawn in Europe that later enabled navigators like Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan and others to rediscover the Americas. It took Idrisi fifteen years to write this monumental work which contains commentaries and illustrations as well as the first perfect map of the Eurasian continent including its link to North Africa. Roger II also hired many Muslims who were trained in long-established traditions of centralized government. These included Abdur-Rahman an-Nasrani, a Greek convert whose name was Latinized as Christodulus and who served as the Emir of Palermo with the title ammiratus-ammiratorum (a corruption of Amir al-Omara), and later Amir al-Bahr (navy commander), which gave rise to the English word Admiral.

214 solar years ago, on this day in 1802 AD, the acclaimed French poet and author, Victor Hugo, was born. He was a freedom-seeker and a supporter of social reforms in favor of the disadvantaged strata. He joined the French Academy at the age of 25, and was concurrently elected as a lawmaker. During the reign of Napoleon III, he stepped aside from the political scene due to his opposition to the repressive monarchic rule, and spent 20 years in exile. During this period, Hugo penned valuable works and can be considered as the pioneer of the Romanticism style. His important works include “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Les Miserables”. He died in 1885.

201 solar years ago, on this day in 1815 AD, Napoleon Bonaparte, along with 1,200 of his men, escaped from his 10-month confinement on the Island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea, to start the 100-day re-conquest of France, before his final defeat in the Battle of Waterloo on June 15 and the exile to St. Helena Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, where he died in May 1821 – presumably by poison administered by the British.

156 solar years ago, on this day in 1860 AD, white-skinned European encroachers massacred a band of Wiyot Amerindians at the village of Tuluwat on Indian Island near Eureka, California. At least 60 women, children and elders were killed in cold blood. The US has a bleak and bloody record of genocide and ethnic cleansing of the native people.

113 solar years ago, on this day in 1903 AD, Richard Jordan Gatling, US inventor of the Gatling Gun, the forerunner of the machine gun, died at age of 84. In 1861 he invented his gun, a crank-operated, rapid-fire multi-barrel design combining reliability, high firing rate and ease of loading into a single device. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 spurred him to design firearms.

95 solar years ago, on this day in 1921 AD, the Soviet Union entered into an agreement with Iran four years after triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring all treaties imposed on Iran by Czarist Russia as null and void. The Soviet Union was under threats from all directions and the main purpose of the treaty was to ensure prevention of any anti-communist activities from Iranian soil. However, despite canceling all Czarist imposed treaties, the Soviet Union did not return to Iran the lands which the Czars had seized in the Caucasus, including what is known today as the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan, Daghestan, and parts of Central Asia such as the region of Marv in what is now the Republic of Turkmenistan.

82 lunar years ago, on this day in 1355 AH, the Source of Emulation, Grand Ayatollah Allamah Mirza Mohammad Hussain Na'ini, passed away at the age of 79. He was born in the central Iranian city of Na'in in a religious family. He completed his preliminary studies in his hometown before leaving for Iraq for higher studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf. He studied under such prominent ulema as Ayatollah Mirza-e Shirazi, whose historic fatwa against tobacco saved Iranian economy from British exploitation. Besides theology, Na'ini was well versed in mathematics, philosophy, and mysticism. Among his most important compilations, mention can be made of “Tanbih al-Ummah va Tanzih al-Millah” which outlines the duties of ulema and people and the necessity of campaign against tyrannical regimes. This was an effective step by Grand Ayatollah Na'ini in awakening the Iranian people, whose struggles against local despotism and foreign hegemony triumphed under the guidance of the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA). Among his other books mention could be made of “Wasilat an-Najaat”.

81 solar years ago, on this day in 1935 AD, the feasibility of ‘RADAR’, which is the abbreviation of “Radio Detection And Ranging” was demonstrated for the first time at Daventry, England, by Scottish physicist Robert Watson-Watt. While working on methods of using radio-wave detection to locate thunderstorms in order to provide warnings to airmen, he realized that it could be used to track enemy aircraft for air defence. The test showed that a British bomber flying in the main beam of a BBC short-wave radio transmitter gave back reflected signals to the ground on three occasions that the aircraft passed overhead. By 1939, the outbreak of WW II, the military installed a chain of radar stations along the east and south coasts of England to prevent a German invasion.

60 solar years ago, on this day in 1956 AD, the great Iranian lexicographer, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda died at the age of 76. Born in Tehran, after completing his studies he went to Europe for higher studies, and on returning to Iran five years later, he actively involved himself in the Constitutional Movement against the decadent Qajarid dynasty. He launched his literary career by writing critical and satirical articles in the Persian newspapers and magazines against the unjust conditions of the time. He was an authority on Iran's culture and Persian language, and wrote the 4-volume work "Imsaal wa Hakam" which contains over 4,000 proverbs and their meanings. His magnum opus is "Lughat-Namah", a voluminous lexicon of the Persian language.

24 solar years ago, on this day in 1992 AD, Armenian militiamen and the 366th rifle regiment of the Russian army massacred in cold blood at least 613 Muslim men, women, and children in the town of Khojaly in the Qarabagh autonomous region of the Republic of Azerbaijan on its seizure by Armenia. As confirmed by Human Rights Watch and other international observers, the "Khojaly Genocide" and its aftermath shocked the civilized world, and later many dead bodies of Azeris trying to flee the massacre were found in the surrounding mountains and forests as a result of freezing temperatures. In addition, the Armenians imprisoned the survivors of the tragedy. The Caucasus region, including the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, were an integral part of Iran’s successive empires for over two millenniums until the occupation by Russia in the 19th century.

23 solar years ago, on this day in 1993 AD, the prominent jurisprudent, Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli, passed away in Iran. He was from the city of Amol in Mazandaran Province, and after completing his religious studies in holy Qom he left for Iraq for higher religious studies at the famous seminary of holy Najaf. He reached the degree of Ijtehad and his classes were attended by a large number of scholars and students. He was known for his piety and among his works is the book "Kashf al-Haqa'eq". Ayatollah Mirza Hashem Amoli was the father of Iran's present judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, and Iran's current Speaker of the Legislature, Dr. Ali Larijani.

AS/ME

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