For eight centuries, the conquest of
Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey, was a dream for the Muslim commanders.
Ever since the era of the revered companion, Mu`aawiyah Ibn Abu Sufyaan,
there had been many attempts to conquer it, but none had succeeded.
Every Muslim commander wanted to be the conqueror praised in the narration
in which the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said:
conquer Constantinople. Its commander is the best and its army (that will
conquer it) is the best."
Who was then the person about whom the
Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, gave glad tidings? It was Mohammad
Al-Faatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, son of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II.
Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have
mercy on him, as a child and his excellent preparation:
Mohammad Al-Fatih was born on 27th Rajab, 835 A.H., 30th
He was brought up under the
supervision of his father, Sultan Murad II, the seventh Ottoman Sultan. His
father prepared and trained him to shoulder the responsibilities of the
position of a Sultan.
Mohammad Al-Fatih memorized all the Quran, learnt the Prophetic narrations,
Islamic jurisprudence, mathematics, astronomy and the skills required for
learnt Arabic, Persian, Latin and Greek languages. He joined his father in
his battles and conquests.
father appointed him as a ruler of a small emirate so that he could receive
practical training on administering state affairs under the supervision of
some of the top scholars of that time. This matter influenced the character
of the young prince and tinted his personality with Islamic morals and
Aaq Shamsd-Deen, one of the scholars who supervised the upbringing and
education of Mohammad Al-Faatih, managed to inculcate in his heart the
spirit of Jihaad and the desire to be a person with high ambition.
Shaykh also told Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, that he
may be the one referred to in the Prophetic narration mentioned above. All
this shaped the character of Mohammad Al-Faatih. He was devoted to Jihaad,
highly ambitious, widely cultured, and had deep knowledge of the skills of
war and combat.
Taking power and his efforts to achieve the
After the death of his father,
Sultan Murad II on 5th Muharram, 852 A.H., 7th
February, 1451 A.C., Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, took
over and became the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He was a strong young man,
only twenty years old, very enthusiastic and ambitious. He was thinking of
the conquest of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
This dream overwhelmed him to the
extent that he would not talk about any subject except for the conquest of
Constantinople. He would not even allow anyone who was sitting with him to
talk, except about the expected conquest.
The first step in achieving his
dream was to take control of the Strait of Bosporus so that he could prevent
any support or supplies that might come to Constantinople from Europe. So he
built a huge castle on the European seashore of the Strait of Bosporus.
Along with top senior officials, he personally participated in building the
castle. It took three months to build this castle that came to be known as
the Roman Castle. On the other bank of the Strait of Bosporus, there was the
Castle of Anatolia. It then became impossible for any ship to cross unless
it obtained permission from the Ottoman forces.
At that time, a talented engineer
managed to make a number of cannons for the Sultan, Mohammad Al-Faatih, may
Allaah have mercy on him. One of these cannons, never known before that
time, was 700 tons and its projectile weighed 1,500 kilograms.
The sound of its shell could be
heard from a long distance away. It was pulled by one hundred oxen aided by
one hundred strong men. This giant cannon was called the Sultanic Cannon.
of Constantinople and the realization of the glad tidings:
completing his preparations, Sultan Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have
mercy on him, marched to Constantinople with an army of two hundred and
sixty-five thousand fighters. This army had infantry forces as well as
horsemen. Huge cannons supported this army. The army besieged Constantinople
and the Ottoman cannons started to fire their missiles at the fortified
walls of the city day and night. From time to time, the Sultan surprised the
enemy with a new war plan until the city defenders lost control and their
forces gave up.
of Tuesday, 20th Jumaadaa Al-Awwal, 827 A.H., 29th
May, 1453 A.C., the Ottoman forces managed to penetrate the walls and drive
away the defenders who fled. The people of Constantinople were taken by
surprise when they saw the Ottoman flags waving on their walls and the
soldiers flooding into the city.
the Ottoman forces conquered the city, Sultan Mohammad, may Allaah have
mercy on him, arrived on his horse in a great procession that included his
ministers and army commanders. Ever since that time, the Sultan was known as
Mohammad Al-Faatih (the Conqueror). The soldiers were shouting:
Mash-Allaah! Long live our Sultan! Long live our Sultan!
Sultan's procession marched until it reached Hagia Sophia church where the
people of the city had gathered. When they knew that the Sultan had arrived,
they bowed and prostrated and they were all weeping and crying because they
did not know their fate; what Sultan Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have
mercy on him, would do to them.
Sultan arrived, he dismounted from his horse and prayed two Rak`ahs thanking
Allaah Who had blessed him with this conquest. Then the Sultan addressed the
people of the city who were still bowing and prostrating in tears:
up! I am Sultan Mohammad and I would like to tell you, your brothers, and
all the people present that your lives and freedoms are protected.
Sultan ordered that the church be turned into a mosque and for the first
time, the call for prayer was heard from this place. Until now, this mosque
is still known as the Mosque of Hagia Sophia. He also decided to take
Constantinople as a capital of his country. It was called Islambul, meaning
the House of Islam. Later on the word was viciously twisted to become
Sultan was very tolerant and merciful with the people of the city, and acted
according to the teachings of Islam. He commanded his soldiers to treat
their prisoners of war in a good manner. The Sultan himself paid the ransoms
for a large number of prisoners of war from his own money. He also allowed
those who left the city when it was under siege to return home.
The aftermath of the conquest of
Al-Fatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, attained this victory when he was
twenty three years old. This indicated his early military genius. He also
deserved the glad tidings of the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, who
foretold that a good person would conquer that city.
on, Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, headed to complete his
conquests in the Balkan. He managed to conquer Serbia, Greece, Romania,
Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. He also looked forward to conquering Rome so
that he would have another source of pride in addition to the conquest of
to achieve this great hope, he needed to conquer Italy. He prepared a
tremendous fleet for this mission. He managed to land his forces and a large
number of cannons near the Italian city Otarant. Consequently he managed to
capture its castle in Jumaadaa Al-Awwal 885 A.H., July 1480 A.C.
Al-Fatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, decided to take Otarant as a base
for his northern military operations until he could reach Rome. The European
world was terrified because of this attempt and they expected the fall of
the historical city, Rome, into the hands of Mohammad Al-Fatih, may Allaah
have mercy on him. However, he died suddenly (on 4th Rabee' Al-Awwal,
886 A.H., 3rd May, 1481 A.C.) while he was preparing to realize
this dream. All Europe was very happy when they knew about his death. The
Pope of Rome ordered that thankfulness prayer be held in churches as a means
of expressing joy and happiness over the news.
Mohammad Al-Fatih, may Allaah have
mercy upon him, as a statesman and a sponsor of civilization
the reign of Mohammad Al-Faatih and because of his wise leadership and
well-planned policy, the Ottoman State reached boundaries that it had never
All these conquests were not the only achievements of Mohammad Al-Faatih may
Allaah have mercy on him. Through the help of some of his loyal men, he
managed to establish a constitution based on the Book of Allaah and the
Sunnah of His Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam,
and the Ottoman state adhered to this
constitution for about four centuries.
he was very busy, he managed to establish more than 300 mosques, 192 of
which were in Istanbul alone. He also built 57 schools. Among his most
famous architectural monuments are the Mosque of Sultan Mohammad, the Mosque
of Abu Ayyoob Al-Ansaari, and Sarai Tub-Qabu Palace.
Al-Faatih, may Allaah have mercy on him, was known for his love for
literature. He was a good poet and a regular reader. He liked the company of
scholars and poets and made some of them ministers. Whenever he heard about
a great scholar in any field, he would help and support him or ask him to
come to Istanbul in order to benefit of his knowledge.
The character of Mohammad Al-Faatih, may
Allaah have mercy on him:
Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have
mercy on him, was a committed Muslim who abode by the rulings of Islamic
jurisprudence. Because of the way he was brought up, he was a pious man. As
for his military conduct, it was very civilized and it was unfamiliar to
Europe in its Medieval Ages.
Owing to his ambition fostered by
his teachers who always encouraged him to be the conqueror of
Constantinople, he managed to make the greatest of his achievements by
conquering this city.
Mohammad Al-Faatih, may Allaah have
mercy on him, managed to realize his dreams through hard, continuous work,
and well-organized planning.
For example, before besieging
Constantinople, he prepared for the war by making cannons, preparing his
fleet, and making use of all the factors that might render him victorious.
Through high ambition,
determination, and the effort to achieve his goals, he managed to
materialize his dream, make his hope an existing reality which made him one
of the great Muslim heroes and conquerors.