CONSTANTINOPLE, the much sought capital city of East Roman Empire (Byzantium) was finally conquered in 1453 by the 'Uthmaniyah' (Ottoman) Turks led by their devout king, Sultan Muhammad II or Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror.
To conquer Constantinople which was said to be founded by King Byzas and made a capital city by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 340 AD, it 'needed' hundred years of 'sabur' (patience) and sacrifice from the Muslims and on their sides they had great leaders like Abu Ayub Al-Ansari and Sultan Muhammad II.
Abu Ayub was a 'sahabah' (companion) of the Prophet s.a.w. (571-632 AD) who took part in one of the great mission of the Arab-Muslims to invade the city during the earlier era of the Muslims civilization.
The campaign failed and not long after that Abu Ayub died; before he passed away he told his companions he longed to be buried in the city. Only nearly a thousand years later, the 'dreams' of Abu Ayub was fulfilled - Constantinople finally felt into the hands of the Muslims and he was reburied in the city.
A few days ago while in 'Constantinople' I visited the mausoleum and 'masjid' of Abu Ayub Al-Ansari which in its public burial ground, the body of a young Malaysian student, Ammar Azam, 20, was laid to rest there after he died in a road accident. The student was given a touching farewell by hundreds of local Turks.
Reflecting the lives of Abu Ayub Al-Ansari, Sultan Muhammad II and even Ammar, I felt so small in my live as a Muslim. Subhanallah what have I done for the benefits of the Muslims; perhaps for own self too I failed miserably what to talk about the trust put upon me as a husband, father or even a son.
I too did an excursion along 'Constantinople' famous straits, the Bosphorus not only to appreciate the unique city skyline and coast, but also the history of this city of 20 million inhabitants.
About 500 years ago Constantinople was conquered and renamed Stimbol, Estanbul, Istambol and then the name 'Istanbul' is attested. Istanbul was the seat of the Ottoman Empire until 1923.
On the Bosphorus cruise, the well-preserved Walls of Constantinople come into view as does the the architecture of landmarks such as Masjid Ortakoy, a signature sight with the Bosphorus Bridge in the the background. And it's one way to be right in the bustle of the waters of the Golden Horn Inlet, the imposing Masjid Sulaiman rising in the distance.
Discussing the subject on 'Constantinople' during this era of 'fitna' (hardship) put upon to Muslims by certain quarters especially by Western 'big shots' - the latest one was Donald Trump who call to ban Muslims from entering the United States - I thought it was great to share the 'lovely things' done by the Conqueror of Constantinople, Sultan Muhammad II.
In the book 'All Istanbul - City of Civilizations' authored by Erdem Yucel, he noted: "Mehmet (Muhammad) II, the Conqueror is well known for his religious tolerance and the Orthodox Church was taken under the protection of the Ottomans.
"Restoration and reconstruction works stated in Istanbul after the conquest of the city were intensified at the surrounding of the Sultanahmet Square. Arrangements of the residential areas and structures were given priority. City walls were restored, mosques, 'kulliyes' (complex of buildings), inns, 'hammams' were constructed next to the places and the churches.
"The population of Istanbul, which was around 40,000 - 50,000 before the conquest was decreased during the siege. So in order to increase the population, people from Anatolia and Rumelia were brought to the city.
"Turks were settled in Eyup and Uskudar, Greeks were settled in between Balat abd Cibali and in Galata. Jews were settled between Haskoy and Balat and the Amenians were settled in Kumkapi and Samatya."
Sultan Muhammad II had done 'great things' to non-Muslims especially to the Orthodox Christians and Jews. Today the Jews are one of the successful people in Istanbul especially in the field of business...well, what have the Western world talk about 'the good Sultan'?
I had read books that dictated the life of Sultan Muhammad II. He was a very devout person - it was said he never missed his five times compulsory prayers (jemaah or in congregation) and the after mid-night 'tahajjud' (recommended) prayers.
Perhaps Muhammad Al-Fatih suited the person mentioned in a 'hadith' -
“Constantinople would fall into the hands of Islam. Leaders who conquer it, is the best of leaders and the troops under his command is the best of troops.” (Narrated by Ahmad bin Hanbal)
Who was this conqueror? Muhammad Al Fatih (1431 – 1481 AD), the son of Sultan Murad II was the sultan who ruled the Ottoman Empire since the year 1451 AD.
As a boy he had very good teachers such as Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ismail al-Kurani and Sheikh Aag Syamsudin. From them, Muhammad Al Fatih studied religion, language, skills, physical geography, astronomy, and history.
Muhammad Al Fatih grew into someone who was an expert at war and was smart at riding, an expert in the field of science and mathematics, and master of six languages since the age of 21. Muhammad Al-Fatih was a intelligent young man who had the willpower to reach his goal, especially for conquering Constantinople as the words of the Prophet Muhammad which he knew since he was 12 years old.
A writer noted that the success of Muhammad Al Fatih in conquering Constantinople was not coincidence. Muhammad Al Fatih was strengthening Ottoman military power by choosing and selecting troops ever since they were small. A special team was ordered to spread throughout Turkey and the surrounding area to search for the children of the most intelligent, the most diligent of worship, and the most powerful physique.
Then the parents are given the offer that their children can be guided in the early age. Once agreed, the chosen children were given coaching of religion, science, and military, as their daily needs borne by the state. So, it made sense why no single soldier had ever left prayers since 'baligh' (come to age), even half of them had never left the tahajjud prayer since 'baligh'.
Muhammad Al Fatih himself was mentioned never leaving tahajud and rawatib prayers since baligh until his death. Narrated in the first prayer that will be held after the conquest, Muhammad Al Fatih said: “Those who feel never 'masbuq' (late comers) in prayer please be our prayer leader.” After a long wait, there was no one going forward. Then steadily Muhammad Al Fatih led his men.
Maybe that’s the secret of success of Muhammad Al Fatih in realizing its goals and ideals of Islam, not physical strength, but the closeness to Allah SWT. The secret that he distributed to troops by keeping the obligatory prayers, tahajjud prayers and 'rawatib' prayers. At the age of 22, Muhammad Al Fatih conquered the city which the Prophet promised eight centuries earlier. Once captured, the city of Constantinople was replaced with the name Islambul (city of Islam).
Comrades even opponents admired the leadership of Muhammad Al Fatih and his strategies of wars. He played a major role in the expansion of Islamic territory, setting the lands, making improvements in the economic, educational, and very concerned about the welfare of its people. In his leadership, the center of government Islambul was being very beautiful, advanced, and economically successful.
Muhammad Al Fatih, the person who had tremendous energy and became a noble. So what about us? What achievements that we are already obtained in our growing age, asked the writer.
As for me (this writer), if Muhammad Al-Fatih was given a full 100 marks for all his efforts, perhaps I could not even get 1...so to Muslims all over the world, to conquer ''more Constantinople' we all needed to produce perhaps a thousand or a million 'Muhammad Al-Fatih'...'insya-Allah' (God willing)...in this way we would be able to bring back the glory of Islam and of course to shut the big and foul mouth of the likes of Donald Trump would be like 'kacang putih' (means nothing to us)! - ES