Wednesday, 8th April, 2015

8th April

​1798 solar years ago, on this day in 217 AD, Roman Emperor Caracalla was assassinated after a 6-year reign by his guards while urinating at a roadside in Edessa in northern Mesopotamia, a year after he tricked the Iranians into believing that he was sincere in his peace and marriage proposal to the daughter of Parthian Emperor, Artabanus V (Ardavan in Persian), but then had the bride and guests massacred at the wedding celebrations at the royal palace in Arabela – present day Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Of mixed Punic and Syrian descent, he was named Lucius Septimius Bassianus on his birth in Lyon, France, to the Emperor Septimius Severus. Of mean character, on the death of his father in what is now York in Britain, he was proclaimed joint emperor with his brother, Publius Septimius Antoninus Geta, whom he soon treacherously murdered in front of his mother. A contemporary account of Caracalla’s massacre of the Iranians says that a huge gathering had stood about casually, eager to see the bridegroom and expecting nothing out of the ordinary. Then the signal was given by the Roman emperor to his army to attack and massacre all. Totally astounded at this onslaught the people fled – wounded and bleeding. Artabanus managed to escape with a few companions, while the rest of the Parthians, lacking their indispensable horses, were cut down – for they had sent the horses out to graze and were standing about. The Roman army then carried out a campaign of massacres in northern Mesopotamia and around Media, where Caracalla dug open the royal tombs of the Parthians, and scattered their bones. The Iranians, however, soon regrouped and fought the Romans to a bloody standstill at the Battle of Nisibis (in today’s southeastern Turkey), making them pay war reparations of 200 million sestertii.

1139 solar years ago, on this day in 876 AD, the usurper Abbasid caliphate survived annihilation when pride and overconfidence cost the Iranian general, Amir Yaqoub ibn Laith Saffari, victory in the Battle of Dayr al-Aqoul at Estarband, 80 km southeast of Baghdad. Yaqoub Saffari, who from his base in Zaranj in Sistan, after taking control of Sindh, Baluchestan and Kabul, had carried the banner of Islam to the then Buddhist ruled areas of Bamiyan, Balkh, Badghis, and Ghor (in present-day Afghanistan), now turned towards the west, and swept through Khorasan, conquering Fars and Khuzestan on his way to Iraq. Mu’tamid-Billah, the 15th self-styled Abbasid caliph and murderer of Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS) – 11th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) – terrified at the idea of the Saffarids joining the raging Zanj revolt in Basra and southern Iraq, offered Yaqoub the governorships of Khorasan, Fars, Tabaristan, Gorgan, and Rayy, if he spared Iraq. Yaqoub, however, sensing the weakness of the caliphate, from which Egypt, North Africa, Syria and Central Asia, had already broken away, resolved to end Abbasid rule. He advanced north of Waset, but here the clever tactic of the pro-Abbasid Iranian general, Masrour al-Balkhi, in flooding the adjoining lands slowed down his march. This provided the Abbasids ample time to gather troops and Turkic mercenaries, and thus save their rule that had been established a century and 26 years ago in 750 by Abu’l-Abbas Saffah by overthrowing the Omayyads with Iranian help. The result of the battle, completely halted Yaqoub’s advance, as he fell back broken-hearted after a valiant fight, and in the next three years that he was alive, did not make any campaigns in Iraq. In 879, his brother and successor, Amr ibn Laith concluded peace with the caliph. The Abbasids, who had become puppets of Turkic slave generals, continued to be in power, until all executive authority was taken away from them by the Iranian general, Moiz od-Dowla Daylami on the fall of Baghdad in 945 to the Buwaiyhids, who ruled Iraq, Oman and most of Iran for 110 years. Next the Seljuq Turks reduced the Abbasids to vassals. Finally in 1258, the Abbasid caliphate was thrown into the dustbin of history with the sack of Baghdad by the bloodthirsty Buddhist Mongol hordes of Hulaku Khan, the grandson of Chingiz Khan.

744 solar years ago, on this day in 1271 AD, the 4th Turkic Mamluk Sultan (slave-king) of Egypt and Syria, Rukn od-Din Baybars al-Bandouqdari, conquered the impregnable fortress of Krak des Chevaliers by defeating the crusader occupiers and expelling them back to Europe. Known to Muslims as “Hisn al-Akraad” (Castle of the Kurds), it sits atop a 650-metre (2,130 ft) high hill east of Tartus, Syria, in the Homs region on the way to Tripoli in what is now Lebanon. The castle was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006. Recently this fortress was liberated by Syrian troops from the Takfiri terrorists who are backed by US, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Baybars, earlier as a general, had taken part in the resounding defeat of the 7th crusade led by the French king, Louis IX, at the Battle of Fareskour in Egypt (1250) and the decisive Muslim victory over the Mongols at Ain Jalut in Palestine (1260).

667 lunar years ago, on this day in 769 AH, the acclaimed Persian poet Mahmoud ibn Amir Yameen od-Din, popularly known as Ibn Yameen Faryumadi, passed away at the age of 84. Born in Faryumad near Sabzevar in Khorasan, northeastern Iran, he is said to have been the court poet of the Shi’a Muslim Sarbedar dynasty. Over 5,000 of his poems, mainly aphorisms, have survived, including qasidas (panegyrics) and mathnawis (long odes) of a philosophical and mystical nature.

554 solar years ago, on this day in 1461 AD, Austrian mathematician and astronomer, Georg von Peurbach, died at the age of 37 in Vienna. He studied the Islamic scientist, Ibn Haytham’s book “On the Configuration of the World”, and replaced the Greek scientist Ptolemy’s chords in the table of sines with the Islamic Arabic numerals that were introduced 250 years earlier in place of Roman numerals and which today are in use in the whole world (e.g. 1,2,3,4,5 etc.)

489 lunar years ago, on this day in 947 AH, a treaty was signed in Istanbul between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice, ending the 3-year naval war between the two sides, with the Venetians paying three million gold liras as war damages to the Turks, in addition to ceding all islands in the Aegean Sea as well as key mainland holdings in the Peloponnese Peninsula. The war had started over a Venetian insult to Sultan Sulaiman, prompting the Ottoman navy, led by Khair od-Din Pasha (Barbarossa or Redbeard to the Europeans), to raid Apulia in southern Italy. In response, a combined fleet of 81 Venetian ships, 50 Spanish ships, and 36 papal ships of the Holy Roman Empire, launched an attack on the Ottoman fleet. Khair od-Din Pasha retaliated with further raids up and down the coasts of the Aegean and Adriatic seas, capturing numerous Venetian-controlled islands and trading outposts, and staging a major raid on Crete. Next, with 120 warships he took on the might of the combined European fleet and inflicted a stunning defeat at Prevesa, forcing the allies to admit defeat and conclude a peace treaty.

417 lunar years ago, on this day in 1019 AH, the famous Iranian scholar, Seyyed Noorollah Shoushtari Mar’ashi, was martyred in Agra, India, at the age of 63, due to the jealousy of pseudo jurists, who framed up false charges against him for being promoted to “Qazi al-Quzzat” (Chief Judge) of the Mughal Empire. Born in Shoushtar in Safavid Iran, after initial studies in his hometown, he travelled to Mashhad in Khorasan for higher studies at the age of 23. In 993 AH, he migrated to Hindustan (northern subcontinent) on the invitation of Emperor Jalal od-Din Akbar Shah, and steadily rose to become the Chief Judge in Lahore. A prolific writer, he wrote several books, including“Majalis al-Momineen” and “Ahqaq al-Haq”, before being martyred on the insinuation of the enemies of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). Emperor Noor od-Din Jahangir Shah was under the influence of alcohol when he signed the decree drafted by court mullahs for Seyyed Noorollah’s execution. Later, the emperor rued his decision and with the help of his Iranian wife, Empress Noor-Jahan, he executed the plotters for the murder of this eminent Iranian scholar, who is known as “Shaheed Salles” (3rd Great Martyr), and whose tomb is a site of pilgrimage.

156 solar years ago, on this day in 1859 AD, Austrian-German philosopher, Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl, who established the school of phenomenology, was born in Prostejov (presently in Czech Republic). He broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, and elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic. Not limited to empiricism, but believing that experience is the source of all knowledge, he worked on a method of phenomenological reduction by which a subject may come to know directly an essence. He died in Nazi Germany in 1938.

155 lunar years ago, on this day in 1281 AH, the great Islamic scholar, Ayatollah Shaikh Morteza Ansari Dezfuli, passed away in holy Najaf, Iraq, at the age of 67. He was born in Dezful, southwestern Iran. At the age of twenty while on pilgrimage to the holy cities in Iraq, he decided to stay in Karbala, where for four years, he studied Islamic sciences. When the holy city was besieged by the Ottoman Turkish forces of Dawoud Pasha, he along with the scholars of Karbala and other students moved to Baghdad and the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazem (AS). He then returned to Iran before going again to Iraq a year later to study for two years at the Najaf Seminary under Shaikh Kashef al-Gheta. He again returned to Iran for pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad, where he encountered Ahmad an-Naraqi, an authority in “Fiqh” (Jurisprudence) and “Irfan” (Gnosis), and decided to study with him for a further four years. After a few years of travelling, Shaikh Ansari went back to holy Najaf to complete his studies under Kashef al-Gheta and the famous Shaikh Mohammad Hassan Najafi, the author of the brilliant book, “Jawaher al-Kalaam”. He settled in Najaf, began teaching and was soon universally recognized as the ‘most learned Mujtahid and Marja or the Source of Emulation for the Shi’a Muslim world. His classes became incredibly popular, attracting hundreds of students. In spite of the tremendous prestige attached to his position, Shaikh Ansari lived the life of an ascetic. The author of some thirty books and treatises, his works are noted for their clarity and readability. Most of his works centre on Fiqh (Jurisprudence). His most important works are the “Rasa’el”and the “Makaseb”, of which the latter is a book of detailed Islamic Commercial Law, and is still taught today in the Hawza. Among his students was Mirza Mohammad Hassan Shirazi, who issued the famous “fatwa” against the British monopoly on tobacco that saved Iran from an intricate plot. Another prominent student was the pan-Islamist thinker, Seyyed Jamal od-Din Asadabadi.

147 lunar years ago, on this day in 1289 AH, the concession to exploit Iran’s vital sources was granted to a British colonialist agent, Julius De Reuters, by the Qajarid King, Nasser od-Din Shah. It included exploitation of Iran’s mines and forests, building railway, and setting up a bank, post office and telegraph lines to serve London’s vested interests. The people and religious scholars, led by Mullah Ali Kani, unanimously opposed the grant to Reuters. As people’s opposition under the leadership of the ulema grew, the concession was annulled, but as compensation Reuters was given the right to set up the Imperial Bank and print currency notes in Iran for sixty years.

65 solar years ago, on this day in 1950 AD, India and Pakistan inked the Liaqat-Nehru Pact in New Delhi after six days of talks. The signatories were Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and Pakistani Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan. The treaty sought to guarantee the rights of minorities in both countries after the partition of the Subcontinent – Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India.

45 solar years ago, on this day in 1970 AD, the Bahr al-Baqar massacre was carried out by aircraft of the illegal Zionist entity, which deliberately bombed an Egyptian school in the eastern province of Sharqiyya (80 km north of Cairo), resulting in the martyrdom of 46 children and injury to 50 others. Earlier, on February 12 the same year, Israeli warplanes had bombarded an Egyptian factory, martyring and wounding 168 workers. On March 31, 1970, Zionist warplanes pounded the city of Mansurah, martyring 12 civilians and wounding 35 others. The usurper state of Israel has a bleak and bloody record of crimes against humanity.

21 solar years ago, on this day in 1994 AD, in Rwanda more than 1,400 Tutsis were massacred by Hutu militia at a church atop a hill in Kesho. About this time, when the commander of UN forces in Rwanda warned Ghana’s Kofi Annan, the head of the UN Peacekeeping operations that the Kigali government was planning to slaughter Tutsis, Annan’s office ordered General Romeo Dallaire of Canada against protecting the informant or confiscating arms stockpiles of the Hutus. Annan, who went on to become the UN Secretary-General in 1997, later claimed that he lacked the military might and political backing to stop the slaughter of more than 500,000 people.

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