Sultan Muhammad II (Al-Fatih), the Conqueror of Constantinople in 1453 CE

Picture source :
The Ottoman Empire, with its capital in Istanbul, is a historical witness to the glory of Islam. Originally named Constantinople, this city was prophesied by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be conquered by the best of leaders and armies. More than 560 years ago, in the year 1453 CE, Sultan Muhammad II, also known as Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih, successfully proclaimed the call to prayer there, opening the gates of Constantinople at the age of 21. Imagine, a young leader at the age of 21 conquering the significant city of the Byzantine Empire, a feat that even his great-grandfather, with decades of military experience, couldn't achieve.

The Prophet's prophecy had long been a motivating force. Attempts to conquer Constantinople began as early as the time of Muawiyah in 669 CE when he sent forces, including the noble companion Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, to conquer the city. Despite their efforts, Muawiyah's attempt failed, and Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari attained martyrdom on the battlefield. Abu Ayyub, a noble companion whose house served as a resting place for the Prophet during his migration from Mecca to Medina, expressed his wish before his death: "I want to hear the clashing of swords of the best army with its best leader who will liberate this land." He was buried not far from the walls of Constantinople.

Other attempts were made, including one by Tariq bin Ziyad, who aimed to conquer Constantinople from the west after successfully liberating territories in the Iberian Peninsula. However, Tariq bin Ziyad also faced challenges, realizing that Constantinople possessed a formidable naval fleet. The struggle continued with subsequent leaders, specifically by Utsman Al-Ghazi and his descendants, until Sultan Muhammad II finally achieved the conquest.

Sultan Muhammad II, born on March 29, 1432 CE, played a pivotal role in realizing the prophecy. His birth was accompanied by a significant event – his father, Sultan Murad II, reciting Surah Al-Fath from the Quran, containing Allah's promise of victory for the Muslim community. This beautiful twist of fate led to the glorious name "Al-Fatih" being bestowed upon Sultan Muhammad II, a name that has been immortalized in history.

Originally, Sultan Muhammad II (Al-Fatih) was not intended to succeed his father as Sultan. Sultan Murad II had two elder sons, Ahmed and Ali. At the age of 6, Al-Fatih was entrusted with the governorship of Amasya, replacing his deceased elder brother Ahmed. After two years, he swapped places with his second brother, Ali, in Manisa. Unfortunately, Ali was killed, causing deep sorrow to Sultan Murad II, who had envisioned Ali as his successor. This event led to Sultan Murad II's decision to step down and pass the throne to Sultan Muhammad II when he was just 11 years old.

Sultan Murad II, known for his kindness, intelligence, and courage, spent much of his life in jihad for the sake of Allah. However, he passed away at the age of 47, leaving the throne to his son, Sultan Muhammad II. This transition of power was seen as an opportunity by the enemies of Islam, who considered a young ruler as a potential weakness. Paus Eugene IV persuaded King Ladislas to betray his peace agreement with the Ottoman Empire, leading to turmoil between the two powers.

Feeling that he was not yet ready to lead, Sultan Muhammad II sent a famous letter to his father, Sultan Murad II, expressing his doubts. In essence, the letter stated that if his father considered himself the Sultan, he should come and lead the army. However, if Sultan Murad II saw him as the Sultan, then he requested his father to come and lead his forces. In response, Sultan Murad II led an army in the Battle of Varna on October 17, 1448 CE, achieving victory. After the battle, Sultan Murad II returned to the throne, while Sultan Muhammad II resumed his governorship in Manisa.

Sultan Muhammad II had harbored the ambition to conquer Constantinople since childhood, a dream internalized at every step. His teachers, Ahmad bin Ismail Al-Kurani and Sheikh Aaq Shamsuddin, motivated him, reinforcing the belief that he was destined to liberate Constantinople. This conviction drove Sultan Muhammad II to lead the best army and become the best leader, fulfilling the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

On June 1, 1453 CE, a historic moment arrived when the first call to prayer echoed in Constantinople. Sultan Muhammad II posed a series of questions to his troops, asking who had missed obligatory prayers, sunnah prayers, and tahajjud prayers since reaching maturity. Each time, the soldiers who admitted to any lapses sat down. Sultan Muhammad II, however, remained standing, exemplifying his commitment to prayer. This affirmed his position as the best leader with the best army, aligning with the Prophet's prophecy of Constantinople's conquest.

The Ottoman Empire was a formidable nation in its prime, dominating two-thirds of the world's territories. From Egypt, the Hijaz, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine to Morocco, Bulgaria, Hungary, and even the regions of the Indonesian archipelago, the Ottomans left a significant impact. Aceh, in the Indonesian archipelago, maintained friendly relations with the Ottoman Empire, and Istanbul once sent troops to aid Aceh against the Portuguese.

Today, the legacy of the Ottoman Empire is still tangible. Despite its decline almost a century ago, iconic structures like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace stand as reminders of its historical grandeur. Let us hope that Islam once again inscribes its history in golden ink, achieving glory and creating peace in the world. Amen.

Mushpih Kawakibil Hijaj, Shariavest Writer.