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Islamic History in August

This month, the biggest news in the Muslim world is the end of the occupation of Afghanistan. It shows that anything can happen but lets look at what else happened in August historically.


Restoration of Abbasids

On 6 August, 1158 CE {1/2 Rajab, 553 AH}), the 34th Abbasid Caliph – Al-Nasir li-Din Allah or Al-Nasir – was born in the city and capital of the Abbasid Caliphate: Baghdad.

He was the son of the 33rd Abbasid Caliph Hassan al-Mustadi ibn Yusuf al-Mustanjid or Al-Mustadi, and ruled from 1180 CE until his death in 1225 CE.

His (regnal) name literally means “The One who Gives Victory to the Religion of God” and he attempted to restore the power of the Abbasids who at this point had been made subordinates/vassals of many various other dynasties.

He managed to achieve a degree of success and not only held the capital Baghdad but managed to expand into Mesopotamia and Persia. In fact, according to historians, Al-Nasir was the last effective Abbasid Caliph.


Death of Ahmad Deedat

On this day (8 August, 2005 {2/3 Rajab, 1426 AH}), the Indian-born South African Muslim writer and debater known as Ahmed Hoosen Deedat passed away after being bedridden for the final 10 years of his life.

Sh. Ahmed Deedat (Allah have mercy on him) was best known for his dawah activities and debates against prominent Christian personalities.

Like many others who had some sort of interest in dawah and comparative religion, Ahmed Deedat had a huge influence on me in my mid-to-late teens, and was very much the precursor to me being exposed to further areas of dawah. I think he had a profound impact on Muslims in the West in particular, and brought about a sense of pride in being Muslim and possibly even being publicly Muslim. May Allah accept all of his efforts and forgive him for any of his shortcomings. Aameen.


A Leader was Born

On this day (10 August, 847 CE {18/19 Dhul Hijjah, 232 AH}), the 9th Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaʿfar Harun ibn Muhammad or (known by his regnal name) Al-Wathiq Billah (He who trusts in Allah/God) passed away in the city of Samarra in modern day Iraq.

Al Wathiq was a relatively unknown individual both prior to and during his reign as Caliph, with his reign being viewed as a continuation of his father and the 8th Abbasid Caliph: Al-Mu’tasim Billah (He who seeks refuge in Allah/God).

Al Wathiq was named after his grandfather and arguably the most prominent of all Abbasid Caliphs, Harun al Rashid (5th Abbasid Caliph).

Al Wathiq reigned between the years 842 and 847 CE with the most noteworthy events occurring during his reign being a suppression of a Bedouin rebellion in the Hejaz in 845 CE and a failed uprising in Baghdad in 846 CE; the Abbasids also secured a victory against the Byzantines in the Battle of Mauropotamos in 844 CE under his reign.


Second Seige of Constantinople

(1) On this day (15 August, 717 CE {26/27 Dhul Hijjah, 98 AH}), the Second Umayyad Siege of Byzantine Constantinople began. The siege would last a whole year (15 August, 718 CE {8/9 Muharram, 100 AH}) with the Byzantines achieving a decisive victory.

(2) On this day (15 August, 1064 CE {21/22 Sha’ban, 456 AH}), Muhammad ibn Hazm – the Andalusian-Arab Muslim polymath, historian, jurist, philosopher, and theologian – passed away at the age of 69 in the city of Niebla, modern-day southern Spain.

(3) On this day (15 August, 1947 CE {27/28 Ramadan, 1366 AH}), the partition of the Indian subcontinent (British-controlled Indian subcontinent) into India and Pakistan took place. The event was fateful in many ways and was marked by the death and displacement of millions of people.


Victory and Defeat

(1) On this day (18 August, 636 CE {7 Rajab, 15 AH}), the Battle of Yarmouk between the Rashidun Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire began. The Rashidun victory on 20 August, 636 CE (12 Rajab, 15 AH) would lead to the Muslim annexation of the province of Syria from the Byzantines.

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On this day (18 August, 1487 CE {17/18 Sha’ban, 892 AH}), after a four month siege, the Andalusian port city of Málaga was conquered by Castilian and Aragonese forces, five years before the fall of Granada in 1492 CE.

Málaga was the second city in the Emirate of Granada (Nasrid Kingdom of Granada) and its conquest dealt a severe blow to the Nasrid Dynasty (the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninusula).

Málaga itself was a prosperous city, with elegant architecture, gardens, and fountains, and was surrounded by fortifications which were in very good condition. Above it was the citadel known as the Alcazaba of Málaga, built by the Berber-Arab Hammudid Dynasty.

The aftermath of the siege and conquest of the city by the Catholic Monarchs resulted in either the enslavement or death of much of the surviving population.


Mughal Emperor

On this day (20 August, 1685 CE {19/20 Ramadan, 1096 AH}), the 9th Mughal Emperor Muin ud-din Muhammad Shah Farrukh-siyar or simply Farrukhsiyar was born in the modern Indian city of Aurangabad.

Farrukhsiyar was the son of Mughal Prince Azim-us-Shan and the grandson of the 7th Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah I, and reigned between the years 1713 and 1719 CE.

He was said to of been of a handsome countenance but was too easily swayed by his advisors and lacked the character, knowledge and ability necessary to rule the Mughals independently and effectively.

He was brought to power with the aid of the highly influential Sayyid brothers, and it was during his reign that the brothers’ authority and control of the Mughal state reached its peak.

Pictured is said to be Farrukhsiyar on his balcony.


Ottoman Sultan

On this day, (22 August, 1703 CE {8/9 Rabi al-Thani, 1115 AH}), ended the reign of the 22nd Ottoman Sultan – Sultan Mustafa II – and by extension, the beginning of the reign of his brother and 23rd Ottoman Sultan: Sultan Ahmed III.

Both Sultan Mustafa II and Ahmed III were sons of Sultan Mehmed IV, the 19th Ottoman Sultan.

Sultan Mustafa II also had the interesting position of being the successor of Sultan Ahmed II and the predecessor of Sultan Ahmed III.

He reigned between the years 1695 CE until 1703 CE and he was involved in a range of military battles including the so called Great Turkish War or War of the Holy League; recapturing the island of Chios from the Venetians and wars against the Habsburg Empire.

The most traumatic event of his reign was the loss of modern Hungary due to the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 CE after the Ottomans were defeated in the War of the Holy League/Great Turkish War, resulting in their first major territorial loss after hundreds of years of expansion and marking the end of Ottoman control in much of Central Europe.


Sultan Selim I Defeated the Mamluks

On this day (24 August, 1516 CE {14/15 Rajab, 922 AH}), the Ottoman State led by Sultan Selim I decisively defeated the Mamluk Sultanate at the Battle of Marj Dabiq in modern day northern Syria.

The battle led to the fall of the Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman annexation of Greater Syria, Egypt, and the Hejaz, and which would remain part of the Ottoman territories until World War 1.

This battle had huge ramifications for the Muslim majority world at the time and in many ways still shapes our world today.

By gaining control of the former Mamluk territories, it allowed for the Ottomans to gain control of the 3 holiest cities in Islam: Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem, thereby opening up the way for the Ottomans to claim the title of Caliph of the Muslims (away from the Mamluk-controlled Abbasid Caliphs) and hence making Sultan Selim I the first Ottoman Caliph.


Battle of Malazgirt

On this day, (26 August, 1071 CE {20/21 Dhul Qa’dah, 463 AH}), the Great Seljuk Empire led by Sultan Alp Arslan won a decisive victory over the Byzantine Empire in a clash referred to as the Battle of Manzikert or Battle of Malazgirt.

This Seljuk victory hereby opened the gates of Anatolia/Asia Minor to the Muslim Turks and also led to the capture of Byzantine Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, who was later released in exchange for a ransom.

Sultan Alp Arslan had previously proposed a favorable peace treaty to Emperor Romanos IV but it was rejected as Romanos was eager for a decisive military victory.

In essence, this battle not only laid the foundations for the eventual decline of the Eastern Roman Empire/Byzantine Empire but the formulation of the Ottoman State under Osman Gazi in 1299 CE, and by extension, the eventual Ottoman conquest of the Byzantine capital Constantinople under Sultan Mehmet II in 1453 CE.


The Last Caliph

On this day (August 31, 1876 CE {25/26 Dhul Hijjah, 463 AH), began the reign of Ottoman Sultan-Caliph Abdülhamid II.

Sultan Abdülhamid II was the 34th Ottoman Sultan and the last effective Ottoman Sultan. He took over the reigns of the Ottoman dynasty after his brother and 33rd Ottoman Sultan – Murad V – and they both were the sons of the 31st Ottoman Sultan: Abdülmejid I.

Sultan Abdülhamid ascended to the throne after the deposition of the aforementioned Murad V and reigned until his deposition by the Young Turk movement in April 1909 CE.

It is said his reign kept the declining Ottomans afloat for at least 30 more years and he adopted a policy of ‘Pan-Islam’ in order to combat Western intervention into Ottoman affairs.

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