1384 solar years ago, on this day in 632 AD as per the Gregorian calendar, the Almighty’s Last Messenger to mankind, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), delivered his memorable sermon on 9th Zilhijja 10 AH at the plane of Arafat during his Farewell Hajj Pilgrimage (Hajj-at-al-Weda). The Prophet directed his speech to all humanity for all time, as is evident by his use of the terms “O People” and “O Mankind”, rather than “O Muslims” or “O Believers”. His intention was to address all people, regardless of their creed, colour of skin, class distinction, languages spoken, eras, and geographical locations around the world (until the Day of Judgement). The sermon, recorded in all reliable books of hadith and history by all denominations of Islam, consists of a series of general exhortations to be followed after him, especially his emphasis on the “Hadith Thaqalayn”. He said in clear words:
"O People! I have been summoned (to God’s presence from the mortal world) and am leaving behind among you the Thaqalayn (Two Weighty Things); the Book of Allah (holy Qur’an) and my progeny the Ahl al-Bayt. Hold fast to them and you will never go astray, for you will be questioned regarding your attitude to them, since the two never part with each other even when they return to me at the Fountain (of Kowsar on the Day of Judgement)."
1129 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).
562 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.
163 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.
158 lunar years ago, on this day in 1279 AH, the Arabic literary figure and poet, Abdul-Baaqi bin Suleiman Farouqi, passed away. He was a devotee of the Infallible Household of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and has written odes in this regard, He has left behind several books on the Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt, including “al-Baqiyaat as-Salehaat”.
119 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.
82 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.
71 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.
29 lunar years ago, on this day in1408 AH, Iraqi religious leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahdi Hakim, was martyred on the orders of Saddam of the repressive Ba’th minority regime of Baghdad, in the lobby of a hotel in Khartoum, Sudan, where he was attending an international Islamic conference. Son of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohsin Hakim, he was politically active against the Ba’th regime and was living in exile in Dubai. His body was brought to holy Qom in Iran for burial.
27 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).
24 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.
4 solar year ago, on this day in 2011 AD, the Iranian bibliographer and Iranologist, Dr. Iraj Afshar, passed away at the age of 86. Born in the central city of Yazd, he studied law at Tehran University. His PhD thesis was on “Minorities in Iran”. In 1952, he launched the cultural magazine “Farhang-e Iran Zamin”. In addition to lecturing, he carried out extensive research on Iranology and bibliography, as is evident by his writing of at least 2000 articles. He also published 300 books on Iran’s culture, history, and literature.