Omar Fakhreddin Pasha – The Defender Of Medina!
During World War I, Ottoman governor Fahreddin Pasha upon the orders of Djemal Pasha on 23 May 1916 moved toward Medina in Hejaz to defend it. He was appointed as commander of Hejaz Expeditionary Force on 17 July 1916.
Fahreddin Pasha was besieged by Arab forces who betrayed the Ottomans with the help of England but tenaciously he defended the holy city. Fahreddin Pasha not only had to defend Medina but also protect the single-track narrow gauge Hejaz Railway from sabotage attacks by T. E. Lawrence and his Bedouin forces, on which his entire logistics depended.
Ottoman garrisons of the isolated small train stations withstood the continuous night attacks and secured the tracks against increasing number of sabotages. (around 130 major attacks in 1917 and hundreds in 1918 including exploding more than 300 bombs on April 30, 1918).
With the resignation of Ottoman Empire from the war with the Armistice of Mudros between Ottoman Empire and Entente on 30 October 1918, it was expected that Fahreddin would also surrender. But he refused to do so and simply refused to accept the armistice.
According to eye-witness memoirs of Turkish author Feridun Kandemir, who was a Red Crescent volunteer of that time in Medina, one Friday in the spring of 1918, after prayers in Masjid al-Nabawi, Pasha ascended the steps of the pulpit, stopped halfway, and turned his face to the Prophet’s tomb and said loud and clear:
“Prophet of God! I will never abandon you!”
He then addressed the men:
“Soldiers! I appeal to you in name of the Prophet, my witness. I command you to defend him and his city to the last cartridge and the last breath, irrespective of strength of the enemy. May Allah help us, and may the prayers of Muhammad be with us”
“Officers of the heroic Turkish army! O little Muhammads, come forward and promise me, before our Lord and the Prophet, to honor your faith with the supreme sacrifice of your lives.”‘
Fahreddin Pasha had said that he had a vision in a dream that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had ordered him not to submit. In August 1918, he received a call to surrender from Sharif Husain of Mecca.
Fahreddin Pasha replied him in these words:
“Fakhr-ud-Din, General, Defender of the Most Sacred City of Medina. Servant of the Prophet.
In the name of Allah, the Omnipotent.
To him who broke the power of Islam, caused bloodshed among Muslims, jeopardized the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful, and exposed it to the domination of the British”
“On Thursday night the fourteenth of Dhu’l-Hijja, I was walking, tired and worn out, thinking of the protection and defense of Medina, when I found myself among unknown men working in a small square. Then I saw standing before me a man with a sublime countenance. He was the Prophet, may Allah’s blessing be upon him! His left arm rested on his hip under his robe, and he said to me in a protective manner, ‘Follow me.’ I followed him two or three paces and woke up. I immediately proceeded to his sacred mosque and prostrated myself in prayer and thanks [near his tomb]”.
“I am now under the protection of the Prophet, my Supreme Commander. I am busying myself with strengthening the defenses, building roads and squares in Medina. Trouble me not with useless offers.”
Fahreddin refused to hand over his sword even upon the receipt of a direct order from the Ottoman minister of war. The Ottoman government was upset upon his behavior and the Sultan Mehmed VI dismissed him from his post.
He refused to do so and kept the flag of Ottoman Sultan high in Medina until 72 days after the end of the war. After the Armistice of Moudros the closest Ottoman unit was 1300 km (808 miles) away from Medina.
Fahreddin was arrested by his own men and brought to Abdullah on 9 January 1919 at Bir Darwish. Abdullah entered Medina shortly after the surrender, followed by Ali who entered the city on 2 February 1919.
”I come out of Madina, only with my dead body” ~ Fahreddin Pasha