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Important Episodes in the History of Iran

Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 11th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 1304 AH, Mahmoud Ghazaan, the seventh ruler of the Mongol Empire's Ilkhanate division that was based in modern-day Iran, and included Iraq and parts of Central Asia and the Caucasus, died. He was the son of Arghun and grandson of Abaqa, continuing a line of rulers who were direct descendants of Genghis Khan. Considered the most prominent of the Ilkhans, he is best known for accepting the truth of Islam in 1295 when he ascended the throne, although he was born a Buddhist, and because of his mother was baptized and raised as a Christian. On conversion to Islam at the hands of Ibrahim Ibn Mohammad Ibn Hamwayh Khorasani al-Juwaini, he changed his first name to Mahmoud, and Islam gained popularity within Mongol territories beyond Iran. His principal wife was Kokechin, a Mongol princess sent to Iran by his distant cousin Kublai Khan the ruler of China, and escorted by the famous Italian traveler Marco Polo. Military conflicts during Ghazaan's reign included war with the Egyptian Mamluks for control of Syria, and battles with the Mongol Chaghatai Khanate of Central Asia. Ghazan also pursued diplomatic contacts with Europe. The Mongol capital was Maragheh in today's Zanjan Province west of Tehran.
On 12th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 1030 AH, the well-known Islamic scholar, theologian, astronomer, and mathematician, Baha od-Din Mohammad bin Hussain Ameli, popularly known as “Sheikh Bahai”, passed away in Isfahan at the age of 78. Born in Ba’lbak in Lebanon, in a family descended from Harres al-Hamdani, a loyal disciple of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), his father, Shaikh Hussain bin Abdus-Samad, was one of the prominent scholars who migrated to Safavid Iran with his young son. Given his sublime talents, the young Bahai soon honed his skills in sciences, such as theology, jurisprudence, Exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, hadith, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, literature, and history. He travelled extensively through Syria, Palestine, Hijaz, Egypt, Iraq, Azarbaijan and Khorasan. Because of his creative talents, he had actually become a walking encyclopedia. He is the first jurisprudent who wrote a handbook on Fiqh for simple layman in Persian language. The book, "Jame' Abbasi" still exists. In spite of his diverse interests, he trained great Fuqaha like Mullah Sadra Shirazi, Muhaqqiq Sabzevari, Fazel Jawad, and Mullah Mohammad Taqi, known as Majlisi the First, since he was the father of the famous scholar, Allamah Mohammad Baqer Majlisi, the author of the encyclopedic work, "Behar ul-Anwaar". After the death of his father-in-law, Shaikh Ali Minshar, he was made the Shaikh ol-Islam of Iran. He has left behind at least 100 valuable books and treatises. Among his works, mention can be made of the books: “Kashkol”, “Khulasat al-Hesab”, and “Tashrih al-Aflaak”.
On August 20, 1576 AD, Ismail II ascended the Safavid throne as the 3rd king of the dynasty and launched a campaign of fratricide in his brief 15-month reign that ended with his murder at the age of 40. Imprisoned by his father Shah Tahmasp I for plotting to seize the throne he was freed and declared king by a faction of the powerful Qizilbash guard in the dispute that ensued on the death of Shah Tahmasp. The Qizilbash were split between him and his younger brother Haydar Ali. The pro-Haydar faction was briefly successful in placing their candidate on the throne but Haydar was killed in the ensuing fight between supporters and opponents that made his tutor, the great scholar, Mir Momin Astarabadi to leave Iran for the safety of the Deccan in southern India, where he became Prime Minister of the Qotb-Shahi Dynasty of Iranian origin of Golkandeh and helped found the city of Hyderabad. Another faction tried to make a third son of Tahmasp as king, but was thwarted by Ismail's supporters. It seems the almost 20-year imprisonment of Ismail at the fortress of Qahqaha had affected his mind. As well as executing members of the faction that had opposed him, he also turned on his own supporters. He killed or blinded five of his own brothers and four other Safavid princes. He is known in Iranian history as "Ismail-e Murted" (Ismail the Apostate) for turning away from the path of the Ahl al-Bayt of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The Qizilbash began to regret their choice and plotted to assassinate Ismail with the help of his own sister Pari Khan Khanum. lsmail died after consuming poisoned opium on 24 November 1577 and was succeeded by his almost blind brother, Mohammad Khodabandah, the father of Shah Abbas the Great.
On August 23, 1514 AD, the decisive Battle of Chaldiran was fought between Shah Ismail Safavi I of Iran and Sultan Salim I of the Ottoman Empire in the plain of the same name between the two northwestern Iranian cities of Tabriz and Khoy. The Safavids, while on the verge of victory against the Ottomans, who were all prepared to flee the battlefield in the face of cavalry charges, faltered at the last moment when confronted by canons, which enabled the Turks to defeat the Iranians. The Ottomans briefly occupied Tabriz, but retreated on news of regrouping of the Safavids for the counterattack. Another factor that influenced the outcome of the battle was the calm on the subdued European front of the Ottoman Empire in the west, in contrast to the invasion of Iran's northeastern frontier in Khorasan by the Uzbeks that forced the Safavids to divide their forces to confront the threat at the other end of the empire. Chaldiran was the first battle between the two empires which intermittently fought each other for over 250 years for control of the Caucasus, parts of Anatolia and Iraq. Chaldiran is considered one of the decisive battles, and if the Iranians had won it they would have easily gained control of Anatolia and Syria where the Safavid Sufi order had large number of adherents amongst the Turkic speakers. In fact, it was this popularity of the Safavids in what is now Turkey that made a frightened Sultan Salim ruthlessly persecute and kill the followers of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt – as many as 70,000. Two years later in 1516, despite his treaty with the Mamluk Dynasty, Selim deceptively attacked Syria and occupied Egypt in 1517, as pre-emptive measures to prevent any tilt towards the Safavids, especially after Shah Ismail sent a diplomatic delegation to the Republic of Venice through Syrian ports on the Mediterranean Sea.
On 7th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 1080 AH, the prominent Iranian Islamic scholar, Seyyed Rafi od-Din Mohammad ibn Seyyed Haidar, known popularly as Mirza-e Rafi'a, passed away. He was the teacher of the famous Safavid era scholar, Allamah Baqer Majlisi, and among his works is the book titled “Hamla-e Haidari”.
On10th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 328 AH, the famous calligrapher, Abu Ali Mohammad Ibn Ali Ibn Muqlah Shirazi, was torturously executed by the usurper Abbasid regime in his hometown Baghdad at the age of 59 years. He is regarded as inventor of the "thuluth" script, the first cursive style of Arabic, though none of his original work remains. Ibn Muqlah was also a government official. By age 22 he was a scribe as well as holding two other important jobs. He was the vizier three times under the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad. After years of fighting for causes he believed in, he was publicly disgraced and imprisoned. After four years of maltreatment, he was executed, with his tongue chopped off and right hand amputated by the executioners. Along with Ibn al-Bawwab and Yaqut al-Musta'simi, he is considered the founder of the modern style. Among his valuable books, mention can be made of “Risalah fi Ilm al-Khat wa'l-Qalam”.
On August 18, 1414 AD, the prominent Persian poet and literary figure, Noor od-Din Abdur-Rahman Jami, was born in the city of Jam, in Khorasan Province. He went to Samarqand to learn Islamic sciences, literature and history, and visited several other lands, before settling in Herat. He has left behind a large number of works in prose and verse, including “Baharestan”. Abdur-Rahman Jami who died at the age of almost 80, has also composed beautiful odes in praise of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and the Ahl al-Bayt.
On 14th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 573 AH, the well-known Iranian Imami theologian, jurisprudent, hadith scholar, and exegete of the Holy Qur’an, Qotb od-Din Rawandi, passed away and was laid to rest in the courtyard of the holy mausoleum of Hazrat Ma’souma (SA), the daughter of Imam Musa Kazem (AS), the 7th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He was from Rawand near Kashan and spent several years acquiring knowledge under the prominent Islamic scholars of his day. He has left behind 80 compilations, including an exegesis of the Holy Qur'an, and exegesis of the Nahj al-Balagha and several other books including “Risalat al-Fuqaha”, and “Ayaat al-Ahkaam”.
On August 30, 1377 AD, Shah Rukh, ruler of Central Asia and Iran was born. He was the fourth and youngest son of the fearsome Turkic conqueror, Amir Timur, and succeeded him to the eastern portion of the empire, while the western portion was lost to the Qara Qoyunlu (Black Sheep) and Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep) Turks. His mother was Iranian and his rule lasted for 42 years from 1405 to 1447. His empire controlled the main trade routes between East and West, including the legendary Silk Road, and became immensely wealthy as a result. Shah Rukh chose to have his capital not in Samarqand, but in Herat. This was to become the political centre of the Timurid Empire and residence of his principal successors, though both cities benefited from the wealth and privilege of Shah Rukh's court, which was a great patron of arts and sciences. His wife, Gowhar Shad, who was an Iranian lady, funded the construction of two outstanding mosques and theological colleges in holy Mashhad and Herat. He died during a visit to Rayy (near modern Tehran) and was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Ulugh Beg, the famous scientist.
On 22nd of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 1151 AH, the Iranian Islamic scholar, Mohammad Hussein Khatoun-Abadi, passed away. He was an authority in theology, literature, and science of hadith. Among his valuable compilations, mention can be made of "Alwaah-us- Samawiyyah" (Heavenly Tablets).
On September 3, 1748 AD, the 3rd ruler of the Afsharid dynasty, Mohammad Ibrahim Khan, was deposed by Nader Shah Afshar’s grandson, Shahrukh Afshar, less than two months after he had usurped the throne of Iran from his brother, Adel Shah, the elder nephew and successor of Nader Shah. Shahrukh, who made Mashhad his capital, was deposed and blinded a year later by Shah Suleiman II, who in turn was blinded the next year in 1750 and replaced by the blind Shahrukh. The eastern parts of Khorasan seceded from Iran during his rule to become the new country of Afghanistan, while Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar seized Mazandaran on the Caspian Sea, and Karim Khan Zand of Shiraz took over most of the country. In 1796, after decisively defeating the Zands and founding the Qajar Dynasty, Agha Mohammad Khan tortured Shahrukh to death.
On 27th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 300 AH, the pious scholar, Sa'd bin Abdullah al-Ash'ari al-Qomi, passed away in Qom. He had the privilege of meeting Imam Hasan Askari (AS), the 11th Infallible Heir of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). He wrote several books including "Basa'er ad-Darajaat" and was an active missionary in Iran for promotion of the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt.
On 27th of the Islamic month of Shawwal in 381 AH, the renowned Iranian Islamic theologian and philosopher, Abu'l-Hassan Mohammad ibn Yusuf al-Ameri, passed away in his hometown Naishapur in the northeastern province of Khorasan. He believed that Islam was the perfection of all religions, and the revealed truths of Islam were thus superior to the conclusions of philosophy, however logical, although the two did not contradict each other. He also believed that the Greeks, who produced such philosophers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, did not have a final say because they as a society, lacked a prominent prophet, who ought to have a final say in all forms and matters. Ameri lived in a half century period between two other Iranian Islamic geniuses, Abu Nasr al-Farabi and Abu Ali Husain ibn Sina. He first studied under Abu Zayd al-Balkhi in Khorasan, before moving to Rayy near modern Tehran and then to Baghdad, where he met such noted intellectuals as Abu Hayyan Ali ibn Mohammad at-Tawhidi and Abu Ali Ahmad ibn Mohammad Ibn Miskawayh. After several years he returned to Iran and took up residence in Bukhara, where he had access to the royal library of the Iranian Samanid Dynasty. His works include: "al-E'laam be Manaqeb al-Islam" (An Exposition on the Merits of Islam), and "Inqadh al-Bashar min aj-Jahr wa'l-Qadar" (Deliverance of Mankind from the Problem of Predestination and Free Will).
On September 4, 1746 AD, The Treaty of Kerden was signed between the Ottoman Empire and Nader Shah Afshar of Iran, reaffirming the border drawn in the Treaty of Zuhab and allowing Iranian pilgrims to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz, which was under Turkish occupation.

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