Lifestyle

A Month in Muslim History

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Many Muslim histories have been black-out throughout the centuries. Because history contains ideas which can awaken the hearts and minds.

Those who try to burn, crush and bully ideas are those who have weak minds. Al Ghazali

This is a series of articles by Ammar Abdul Azeez who dedicates his time to create awareness about little known Muslim heritage. We start this monthly series with the historical event in October.

October 2:

On this day (2 October, 1187 CE), the founder of the Ayyubid DynastySalahudeen al-Ayyubi or known in the West as Saladin – liberated Jerusalem thereby ending 88 years of Crusader occupation.

The re-taking of Jerusalem by Salahuddin was in stark contrast to that of how the Crusaders brutally took the city 88 years prior (1099 CE), and cemented the legacy of Salahuddin in both the East and the West.

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October 8:

On this day (8 October, 1912 CE), the Kingdom of Montenegro declared war on the Ottomans which was followed up by the Kingdoms of Greece, Bulgaria & Serbia (all of them combined were known as the Balkan League) on October 17, 1912 CE.

This began what is known as the first Balkan War between the Ottomans (now a shadow of their former selves) and the aforementioned Balkan League (the Kingdoms of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro).

The war lasted approximately 7 months (October 1912 to May 1913) with the Ottomans ultimately being defeated and which resulted in the loss of most of their territories in Europe (Treaty of London: 1913 CE).

It is said that during this war and prior, there were significant cases of ethnic cleansing of Muslims in these former Ottoman territories.

Picture Credit: Mental Floss

Map after First Balkan War

October 10:

On this day (10 October, 1470 CE), Ottoman Sultan Selim I or Yavuz Sultan Selim Han was born in Amasya, modern-day Turkey.

Selim I was the son of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II, most known for welcoming Andalusian Muslims & Jews fleeing from Spanish persecution into Ottoman domains; the grandson of Sultan Mehmed II or Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han, the conqueror of Constantinople; and the father & predecessor of Sultan Suleiman Kanuni.

Sultan Selim I was not only the 9th Ottoman Sultan/Padishah but the first-ever Ottoman Caliph after he had brought much of the Middle East including Makkah, Madinah & Jerusalem into Ottoman control in 1516/1517 CE.

Sultan Selim’s efforts laid the foundation for further expansion under his aforementioned son & successor and arguably the Ottoman’s greatest Sultan: Suleiman Kanuni/Suleiman I.

Pictured is Sultan Selim Han with his Grand Vizier (Sadrazam) Piri Mehmed Pasha.

Ottoman Sultan Selim I

October 14:

On this day (14 October, 1092 CE), the famous Persian scholar and Seljuk vizier Abu Ali al-Hasan bin Ali al-Tusi or more simply known as Nizam al-Mulk – passed away in Nahavand, modern-day Iran.

He served both Sultan Alp Arslan and his son Sultan Malik-Shah I. He also wrote a treatise on governance titled Siyasatnama and was responsible for founding madresahs (schools of higher learning) throughout the Great Seljuk Empire called “nezamiyehs”; he is credited as the originator of this type of institution which in many respects continues till today.

His death came at the hands of a member of the Hashshashin or Order of Assassins (the basis for the video game Assassin’s Creed) who upon the order of Hassan as-Sabbah (its leader), stabbed and killed Nizam al-Mulk while he was making his way to Baghdad by disguising himself as a Sufi dervish. You can watch the series about Nizam al Mulk at The Great Seljuk Empire

The Character Nizam Al Mulk (centre) in Buyuk Selcuklu

October 21:

On this day (21 October, 1096 CE), the Anatolian Seljuk State under Sultan Kiliç Arslan I decisively defeated the so-called People’s Crusade led by Peter the Hermit, at what came to be known as the Battle of Civetot (in Nicaea/Nicea/İznik, modern-day Turkey).

The People’s Crusade – also known as the Peasants’ Crusade, Paupers’ Crusade or the Popular Crusade – was the first, largest and most well-documented Crusade but is not typically considered an official Crusade/an official part of the First Crusade, as it was not (officially) sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

The People’s Crusade began in April 1096 CE and was put to an end in October 1096 CE by the Seljuks of Rum under the aforementioned Kiliç Arslan I: the first Muslim commander to fight against the Crusaders.

A year later on this very same day (21 October, 1097 CE), the Crusaders began the Siege of Antioch (in modern-day Turkey). They would capture the city around 7 months later (June 1098 CE) thereby paving their way into Palestine and the eventual capturing of Jerusalem in July 1099 CE.

Pictured is a map of Anatolia prior to the Crusader Siege of Nicaea/Nicea in 1097 CE (via MapMaster).

Seljuks of Rum - Kilic Arslan I

October 24:

On this day (24 October, 1775 CE), Bahadur Shah Zafar (Bahadur Shah II), the last Mughal Emperor was born.

Bahadur Shah Zafar’s reign was very much just in name as the Mughal domains had been effectively reduced to Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad).

Pictured is the Zafar Mahal complex in modern day New Delhi (India) considered to be the last Mughal monument and constructed firstly by Akbar Shah II and then by (his son) Bahadur Shah II himself.

Zafar Mahal Complex

October 27:

On the 27th of October (8th of Ramadhan) in the year 1449 (570 years ago), the Timurid Sultan Padishah Ulugh Beg, the grandson of Amir Timur (Tamerlane), was executed under the orders of his rebellious son Abdal Latif Mirza.

Ulugh Beg was a pious Muslim, an accomplished mathematician, and widely known to be one of the greatest astronomers in history.

An unrivalled patron of the arts and sciences. Under him Samarkand (in Uzbekistan) became one of the world’s great intellectual centres of its day.

Credit: Mughal Imperial Archives

Samarkand, Uzbekistan

October 30:

On this day (30 October, 637) the city of Antioch surrendered after the Battle of the Iron Bridge which was fought between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire.

In addition to being one of the last battles between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantines, the battle itself took its name from a nearby nine-arch stone bridge known as Jisr al-Hadid spanning the Orontes River which had gates trimmed with iron blades.


October 31:

On this day (31 October, 1661 CE), Köprülü Mehmed Pasha Sadrazam/Grand Vizier of the Ottoman State between 1656 to 1661 CE – died in Edirne, modern-day Turkey at the age of 86 years old.

He was appointed Grand Vizier of the Ottomans by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed IV (grandson of Sultan Ahmed I) in September 1656 CE at the age of 81.

Köprülü Mehmed Pasha was also the founder of the Köprülü political dynasty of the Ottomans; a family of statesmen, viziers & even warriors with origins from modern-day Albania and who dominated the Ottoman administration in the last half of the 17th century.

Köprülü Mehmed Pasha’s appointment saw him granted many powers and his time as Grand Vizier saw a reform of the Ottoman government that placed more power in the hands of the bureaucracy instead of the Sultan.

He helped rebuild the power of the Ottomans by rooting out corruption and reorganizing the Ottoman army; under his watch the Ottomans also experienced continued geographical growth in Eastern Europe.

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