Arguably one of the most significant events to occur in all of recorded human history, a military achievement that changed the course of history, April 6th, 1453, 568 years ago today, the siege of Constantinople began.
Known to the west as Mehmed II, he was an Ottoman Sultan who would accomplish
one of the greatest military achievements in history. The Conquest of Constantinople is nothing less than an astonishing feat that was reached by a leader like him. After defending the city for the majority of a thousand years facing dozens of besieged, many which were rendered failures, Sultan Mehmed with his brilliant military planning, sharp tactics and faith in Allah, did what would have been known to be impossible and earned the title of Muhammad Al-Fatih or Mehmed the Conquerer.
At its peak, the city state of Constantinople under Roman rule was the center of civilization with its many sea and land trading routes that went through it, the flourishing of society, and so much more. This was not the first time Muslims attempted to take this great city. During the time of the Umayyads, in the early days of Islam when it was beginning to spread. So early that the four schools of thought had not yet been instituted and the main Sunni books of Hadith had not yet been standardized, so it is no wonder we were not prepared to face such a challenge.
But Sultan Mehmed’s focus was just that, to prepare. From an early age as a young
man, Mehmed showed great enthusiasm in the pursuit of knowledge especially in Islamic sciences, history and the Prophetic Tradition. For over 800 years Constantinople had withstood attacks from all kinds of enemies so conquering such a place would be no easy task. What set Muhammad Al-Fatih apart was his keen sense of awareness and ability to adapt as well as formulate pre-war strategies. He signed peace treaties with surrounding powers to uphold the ceasefire during the siege and regulated the trading markets to draw up funds for the war. He recruited foot soldiers, gunmen, and cavalry from all across the Muslim world. He was setting up the stage for one of the most formidable Muslim armies the world had ever seen. He was not willing to take any risks and very meticulously sketched all his strategies on maps with the greatest care. In order to spot and dismantle any flaws in his plans he would work on them for days. He would study previous failed attempts on conquering the city and learned from their flaws.
So the siege begun and one wave after the other the Ottomans attacked the city.
The initial offenses of the invasion were ineffective and the Sultan had to get to the Golden Horn of the city if he were to be victorious. He managed to get his fleet there using land over a road of greased logs which he ordered to be built thus bypassing the chain barriers which were hindering the fleet to get to the Golden Horn. When the forces reached the city’s outer walls, the Byzantine defences were overwhelmed and began to collapse and surely enough the Ottoman flags were flying on top of the gates.
Finally after 53 days, May 29th 1453, Muhammad Al-Fatih conquered Constantinople. Similar to King Salahuddin when he took back Jerusalem, Mehmed protected the Jews and Christians and respected their rights as the citizens of Constantinople.
One of the most important lessons we learn from Sultan Mehmed’s great achievement is that in order to be successful in this world, we have to rely on Allah first and foremost, as well as putting in the effort ourselves. By taking this city under Islamic rule, the Sultan set up a grand frontier for the spread of Islam in the west of which the impacts we see to this day.
There is not one authentic world history book that doesn’t mention his name. This is how Allah blessed him. May Allah bless every single Muslim that gave his life then so the Ummah could see that triumphant day.