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Sunday, 06 March 2016 07:10

This Day in History (16-12-1394)

This Day in History (16-12-1394)

Today is Sunday; 16th of the Iranian month of Esfand 1394 solar hijri; corresponding to 26th of the Islamic  month of Jamadi al-Awwal 1437 lunar hijri; and March 6, 2016, of the Christian Gregorian Calendar.


1157 lunar years ago, on this day in 280 AH, the Iranian linguist and poet of Arabic language, Abu’l-Fazl Ahmad, known popularly 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 revolutionizing the 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” (Book of Prose and Poetry), in three volumes, which is the first attested multi-author anthology. He also authored “Kitab Baghdad” (Book of Baghdad), in 6 volumes, of which only one volume has survived. He also compiled “Balaghat an-Nisa” (The 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 Hamedan 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 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.

1055 solar years ago, on this day in 961 AD, Byzantine Greek forces occupied the Muslim island of Crete in the Aegean Sea, thus ending the nearly 135-year rule of the Islamic emirate founded by Spanish Muslim migrants under Abu Hafs after their eviction in 827 from the Egyptian port city of Alexandria by the Abbasid Iranian general, Abdullah ibn Taher Khorasani, who equipped them with ships and supplies for the expedition to Iqritish – as the island was called in Arabic. The Greek invaders led by Nikephoros Phokas pillaged the cities, destroying mosques, libraries, baths, bazaars, and irrigation canals. The capital Rabz al-Khandaq, where currently the city of Heraklion stands, was totally destroyed. Cretan Muslims were either killed or carried off into slavery, while the emir, Abdul-Aziz ibn Shu’ayb, and his son Nu’man were taken captive to Constantinople and forced to become Christians. The survival of numerous gold, silver and copper coins, of almost constant weight and composition, testifies to a strong economy and a high living standard among the population of the Emirate of Crete, which had extensive trade ties with the rest of the Muslim world. The Muslims developed a flourishing agriculture, introducing a variety of crops including sugarcane. It was in 654 that Islam made its first advent in Crete, the 5th largest island of the Mediterranean, where Muslims have seen fluctuating fortunes for the past millennium. The last period of Muslim rule – 252 years – ended in 1898 when West European powers seized Crete from the Ottoman Empire and merged it with Greece. The more than 60-percent Cretan Muslims, many of whom followers of the Bektashi Sufi order founded in the 13th century in Khorasan by Iranian mystic of the school of the Prophet’s Ahl al-Bayt, Haji Bekash Vali of Neishabour,  were expelled and the island was Christianized. The Cretan Muslim Diaspora today lives in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. It is worth noting that the Hussainid Dynasty (1705-1957) of Tunisia was Cretan Muslim and originally governors of the Ottoman Empire.

541 solar years ago, on this day in 1475 AD, Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and poet, Michelangelo, was born in Caprese near Arezzo, Tuscany. He created several works of art. The huge statues which he named Moses and David (not to be confused with the Prophets as he wrongly claimed), and the painting of the so-called Last Judgment are considered as his most important works.

464 solar years ago, on this day in 1552 AD, the second major battle between the Christian sects of Catholics and Protestants in Europe ended with another failure for the latter, following their defeat six years earlier. In this battle which took place in Austria, the Spanish, Prussian, and Austrian Emperors, led the Catholics against the French-backed troops of the princes of the Protestant cities of Prussia and Austria. The motives behind these battles were sectarian disputes that flared up when Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church in protest.

257 solar years ago, on this day in1759 AD, the British, led by Colonel Francis Forde, laid siege to Machli-Bandar (Masulipatam), and a month later captured this port city on the Bay of Bengal coast of the Deccan through treachery, before the forces of Nizam ul-Mulk Salabat Jang could arrive from Aurangabad and Haiderabad. This was part of the struggle for supremacy by the British against the French allies of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty during the 7-year-war. Colonel Forde was later drowned in the Mozambique Channel off the coast of Africa. Machli-Bandar (literally “Fishing-Port”), which the British briefly returned to the Nizam, was the fiefdom of the Iranian family of Najm-e Sani, who were appointed governors – first by the Mughal Emperors and later by the Asaf Jahi Persianate Dynasty. It was a thriving port and conduit to Iran, of the Qutb-Shahi dynasty of Iranian origin of Golkandah, before falling to the Mughals and subsequently becoming part of the Asaf Jahi Dynasty of Haiderabad, which finally lost it, along with the rest of the Northern Sarcars (present day Andhra) to the British colonialists in 1823.

237 solar years ago, on this day in 1779 AD, Karim Khan Zand, the founder of the Zand Dynasty of Iran, died in his capital Shiraz at the age of 74 after a reign of 29 years, during which he restored stability to the country in the chaotic aftermath of Nader Shah Afshar’s assassination in 1747, ruling almost all of Iran, along with Basra and parts of the Caucasus, except for Greater Khorasan. To legitimize his rule, he placed the Safavid prince, Ismail III, as a figurehead, and never took the title of Shah, contenting himself with the honourary epithet “Wakil ar-Ro’aya” (Representative of the People). As a general of Nader Shah, he had taken active parts in most of the military campaigns, and on assuming rule of the country, he devoted himself to the rebuilding of the economy and administration based on social justice. To this day, Karim Khan Zand has a reputation as one of the most just and able rulers in Iranian history. On his death, civil war broke out once more, his sons died in mysterious circumstances, and none of his successors were able to rule the country as effectively as he had. The last of his heirs, Lotf Ali Khan Zand, was treacherously killed by Agha Mohammad Khan, who founded the Qajar dynasty in 1794.

116 solar years ago, on this day in 1900 AD, German inventor, Gottlieb Daimler, died at the age of 64. His profession was making guns. His industrial activities led to invention of the motorcycle. He set up the auto industry and built a type of bus.

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”.

59 solar years ago, on this day in 1957 AD, Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence. At a time when Islam was fast spreading in West Africa, Ghana was occupied by the Portuguese, who named it the Gold Coast, plundered its rich resources, and imposed Christianity on its people. The British next seized it and carried on the plunder. In the mid 20th century, freedom movements emerged, resulting in uprisings against colonial rule and forcing the British to hold in 1952 the first legislative elections in which Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was elected prime minister. In 1957, he declared the independence of Ghana which three years later adopted a republican system of government. In 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup master-minded by the US, Britain and France, while he was on a state visit abroad. Thereafter, the country has seen several coups. Ghana covers an area of more than 238,000 sq km. It has a coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and shares borders with Togo, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. Of its fast growing 20-percent plus Muslim population, many are followers of the School of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).

52 solar years ago, on this day in 1964 AD, Afro-American boxing champion, Cassius Clay, embraced Islam, and officially changed his name to Muhammad Ali. His spectacular winning of numerous world titles and his refusal, as a Muslim, to be drafted by the US regime in the Vietnam War made constant headlines.

41 solar years ago, on this day in 1975 AD, the Algiers Accord was inked in the Algerian capital for resolution of the Iran-Iraq border dispute regarding the Shatt al-Arab/Arvand Roud waterway. The agreement ended the Shah’s support for Iraqi Kurds, while Baghdad agreed to fix the southern border of the two countries in the middle of the waterway. In Algiers, the signatory was the then vice president of the Ba’th minority regime, Saddam, who five years later in September 1980, tore the accord  in front of TV cameras to launch his invasion of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Saddam’s US-supported 8-year war ended in 1988 without any victory for him, and two years later in 1990, he had to eat the humble pie and officially admit the validity of the Algiers Accord.


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