Two Islamic Conquests: Salahuddin vs Mehmet II

Two Islamic Conquests: Salahuddin vs Mehmet II

A compilation by Abrar Baig inspired from the works of Sheikh Imran N. Hosein

“Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!” (Musnad Ahmad, Al Hakim)

Many Muslims believe that this conquest has already occurred and it is Mehmet II (Sultan Muhammad Fatih, the Ottoman Sultan who conquered Constantinople in 1453) who is praised by the Prophet (ﷺ) in the Hadith.

But that’s not true!

The issue emerges when Muslims take a single Hadith and form an opinion solely based on that Hadith despite the presence of other Ahadith which elaborate the subject. The same has happened with the Hadith that informs us about the conquest of Constantinople. There are many Sahih Ahadith which tell us that the conquest of Constantinople will only be after the Malhama i.e., The Great War (in which 99 out of 100 combatants will be killed).

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“When Jerusalem is being built up, Yathrib i.e., Madina will be in forlorn desolation and when you see that then the next thing to follow will be the great war and after the great war there will be the conquest of Constantinople and then Dajjal will emerge” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

“They [the Muslims] will then fight and a third of the army would run away, whom Allah will never forgive. A third which would be constituted of excellent martyrs in Allah’s eye, would be killed, and the third who would never be put to trial would win and they would be conquerors of Constantinople. And as they would be busy in distributing the spoils of war (amongst themselves) after hanging their swords by the olive trees, the Satan would cry: The Dajjal has taken your place among your family.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (ﷺ) is also reported to have said, with various weak narrations

“The great Malhama, the conquest of Constantinople, and the coming of the Dajjal occur in (the span of) seven months or seven years.” (Sunan Abi Dawud and Jami` at-Tirmidhi)

We hope it’s now clear that the Conquest of Constantinople which the Prophet (ﷺ) prophesised will take place after al-Malhama therefore the commander praised by the Prophet (ﷺ) is not Mehmet II, simply because it cannot be Mehmet II in view of the fact that the Great War has not yet taken place.

Mehmet II in fact did some grievous mistakes because of which there has been an ever-growing hatred towards Islam in that part of the world (Orthodox Christian World). What we want to do here in this post is to simply bring to light two major differences between two Muslim commanders i.e., Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi (رحمه الله) and Sultan Mehmet II.

The Quran orders that you cannot wage war on an enemy who inclines for peace:

وَاِنْ جَنَحُوْا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَي اللّٰهِ ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ السَّمِيْعُ الْعَلِيْمُ

And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing. (Surah Al-Anfal 8:61)

When Sultan Salahuddin conquered Jerusalem in 1187, he did so in accordance with the Quran.

When Balian (leader of the defence of the city during the siege of Jerusalem in 1187) was losing and the situation was only getting hopeless, Balian willed to accept the negotiated peaceful surrender of the city which Sultan Salahuddin had initially offered and Sultan Salahuddin agreed to a peaceful transition of power in the city. Later Balian haggled for the ransoms and Sultan with his generosity even agreed to that in fact many were freed without any ransom. It will only amaze us if we read about the kindness displayed by Sultan Salahuddin (رحمه الله) during and after the conquest.

But this was not the case with Sultan Mehmet II. Mehmet II defied the Quran. Here’s an appeal for peace and the final message from Constantine XI (last Byzantine Emperor) to Mehmet II.

“As it is plain thou desirest war more than peace, as I cannot satisfy thee by my vows of sincerity or by my readiness to swear allegiance, so let it be according to thy will. I turn now and look above to God.

If it be His will that the city should become thine, where is he who can oppose His will? If He should inspire thee with a wish for peace, I shall indeed be happy. Nevertheless I release thee from all thy oaths and treaties to me, I close the gates of my city, I will defend my people to the last drop of my blood. And so, reign in happiness till the Righteous and Supreme Judge shall call us both before the seat of His judgment.”

Constantine XI also laid some terms and said

“Retain as thy rightful possession the territories which thou has unjustly taken from us, and settle the amount of tribute, which we will do our utmost to pay every year, and then go in peace.”

Despite of Constantine XI calling for peace many a times, Sultan Mehmet II rejected the appeal and took the city of Constantinople by force thinking he is the commander praised by the Prophet (ﷺ) and slayed the Emperor showing no mercy, this act was in defiance of the command in the Quran i.e., Surah Al-Anfal, ayah 61.

Allah commands to protect the Churches, Synagogues and Masajid in Surah Al-Hajj:

وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللّٰهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُمْ بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَّصَلَوٰتٌ وَّمَسٰجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيْهَا اسْمُ اللّٰهِ كَثِيْرًا ؕ

And were it not for the fact that He repels one people by means of another there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. (Surah Al-Hajj 22:40)

Allah commands that we should fight if necessary to protect the Churches, Synagogues and Masajid.

Sultan Salahuddin acted on behalf of the Quran and protected the Churches and Cathedrals upon conquering Jerusalem.

Salahuddin preserved Christian places of worship, including Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Hospital of the Order of St John. More than five centuries before his time, the second Caliph of Islam, Amirul Muminin Umar (رضي الله عنه) had taken the church under his protection, and Salahuddin could not have done otherwise.

Below is the treaty Hazrat Umar (RA) signed with Sophronius

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety which the servant of God, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem. He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion. Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.”

It is recorded that Umar (RA) was given a tour of the city, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When the time for prayer came, Sophronius invited Umar (RA) to pray inside the Church, but Umar (RA) refused. He insisted that if he prayed there, later Muslims would use it as an excuse to convert it into a Masjid – thereby depriving Christendom of one of its holiest sites. Instead, Umar (RA) prayed outside the Church, where a mosque called Masjid Umar (RA) was later built.

And below is what Sultan Mehmet II did after taking the city of Constantinople, forcefully so.

Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered the city late in the afternoon of that same day, Tuesday 29 May, and rode slowly through the streets of the city to Hagia Sophia. He dismounted at the door of the church and bent down to take a handful of earth, which he then sprinkled over his turban as an act of humility before God. Sultan Mehmet II, on surveying more closely the church of Hagia Sophia was astonished at the solidity of its construction, the strength of its foundations, the height of its cupola, and the skill of its builder. He caused the ancient building to be cleared of its Christian objects and converted it into a masjid that very hour.

For those who don’t know, Hagia Sophia was and is the greatest Cathedral for the Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox Christians have been mourning the loss of Hagia Sofia since the Turks took it from them by force, turning it into a masjid was a great offense to Christianity. What Sultan Mehmet II did at this instance was also in a clear defiance of the Quran i.e., Surah Al-Hajj 22:40.

And if you ever hear that the Cathedral was actually purchased by Mehmet II then know that it is an unadulterated and a blatant lie. In fact because of this incident the hearts of Orthodox Christians bleed till this day, they mourn till this day and they hate Islam till this day.


The Quran also says or to be more precise prophesizes about a Christian people who will be the closest in love and affection to the Muslims in time to come, here is the ayah:

لَتَجِدَنَّ اَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوا الْيَهُوْدَ وَالَّذِيْنَ اَشْرَكُوْا ۚ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ اَقْرَبَهُمْ مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوا الَّذِيْنَ قَالُوْۤا اِنَّا نَصٰرٰي ؕ ذٰلِكَ بِاَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيْسِيْنَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَّاَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُوْنَ

You will surely find the most intense of the people in animosity toward the believers [to be] the Jews and those who associate others with Allah; and you will find the nearest of them in love to the believers those who say, “We are Christians.” That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant. (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:82)

We have explained oftentimes that this ayah is speaking about the Orthodox Christian World; please do check that out if you haven’t done so yet.

Final word

We believe that the conquest of Constantinople will lead to the fulfilment of this prophecy of the Quran [5:82] as it’s our opinion that the Muslim Conqueror (of Constantinople) will return Hagia Sophia to the people to whom it rightfully belongs i.e., to the Orthodox Christian World and this would again cement the relationship between Muslims and Christians and therefore this was the exact reason why the Prophet (ﷺ) praised that commander and praised that army (which will conquer Constantinople).”


Categories: History, Islam

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