Q: What is the most used chemical product these days we are using all around the world?
Q: Who discovered the alcohol?
A: Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī.
Q: Where was he from?
A: Iran. (Of course, if he was not Iranian, why should we have started our newsletter with such a question?!)
Zarakiyayya Razi (854-925 AD) was from Shahr-e Ray, today’s south of Tehran. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Mr Razi was among the first physicians to distinguish one contagious disease from another and providing clinical characterization for diseases like measles and smallpox. However, he was not only a famous chemist and physician, but also an important philosopher.
In fact, although people in the western world assign philosophy to the Greek and other European countries, during the Golden Age (8th to 13th century) several fundamental thoughts were born in the Middle East.
That’s why the list of the Persian great thinkers during those centuries is quite rich. Some of these philosophers, like al-Fārābī, Avicenna had deep influence on Western philosophy, particularly in natural philosophy, psychology and metaphysics, but also logic and ethics. From the top Muslim philosophers between 800 to 1770, 70 percent were Iranian.
Indeed, somehow as if many Iranians were born to become philosophers right from birth! The reason is perhaps because of having the most accurate calendar in the world, i.e. Solar Hijri Calendar, which is used in Iran and Afghanistan. (Therefore, our Afghan brothers should equally be potentially philosophers!)
The Solar Hijri Calendar, which is a modified version of Jalali Calendar was defined by the Persian astronomer Ommar Khayyam under the reign of Jalaledin Malik-Shah I of Seljuk in 1079.
Ommar Khayyam, the prominent Persian poet and mathematician was a philosopher himself.
The Persian Calendar is quite regular and compatible with the seasons.
- The first day of the year is the first day of the Spring.
- Every three months belong to one season; i.e. the fourth month, Tir, starts with Summer; Mehr, the 7th month, starts with Autumn and the first day of Day, the 9th month, is coincident with the first day of winter.
- The very moment of new year is precisely calculated. Each 2820 year great grand cycle contains 2137 normal years of 365 days and 683 leap years of 366 days, with the average year length over the great grand cycle of 365.24219852. This average is just 0.00000026 (2.6×10−7) of a day shorter than Newcomb’s value for the mean tropical year of 365.24219878 days, but differs considerably more from the mean vernal equinox year of 365.242362 days, which means that the new year, intended to fall on the vernal equinox, would drift by half a day over the course of a cycle.
- The first six months all have 31 days (not like Georgian calendar where you must memorize the number of days each month has!)
- The snext 5 months all have 30 days. And the 12th month, Esfand, has 29 days on normal years and 30 days on leap years.
And this is how Iranian babies get involved in philosophy from the day they are born.
The fact is that according to our Iranian calendar, our birthdays are fixed, but on leap years, the Georgian date of our birthday shifts for one day.
For example, someone born on 5th of the 5th Iranian month, has normally the birthday on 27th of July. However, on leap years (like 2020) it happens to be 26th of July.
Then the big question comes to our minds: on which day we are actually born?! If this girl was an Iranian girl born outside Iran, would have only one birthday. But being Iranian, she becomes confused every four years so as to what is the very meaning of birthday?! And that might be another proof for “the time to be relative”!
Let us stop this discussion here, before we go through mixing philosophy and the science.
We have found a better solution to celebrate our birthdays twice on leap years and have some holiday! That’s why we kept this newsletter quite easy going this week.