The commander referred to in the hadeeth: You will conquer Constantinople ...
Fatwa No: 290122

Question

Assalamu alaykum. First of all, I would like to ask that Allaah reward you with the best. I have asked you questions many times and you answered them. I love you and all the other scholars worldwide for the sake of Allaah. May Allaah be pleased with all of you. My questions today are about the Ottomans. Many muslims mention the hadith, "You will conquer Constantinople. Its commander is the best, and its army (that will conquer it) is the best," and they refer it to Muhammad Al-Faatih (may Allah have mercy on him). I would like to know whether this hadith is authentic or not and if it really refers to this sultan? Many Sufis say that, and they say he was a Maturidi, but how would the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, praise someone with a false creed? Secondly, I would like to know about the creed of the sultans of the Ottoman empire. Some say that they were all grave worshippers while the Sufis say they were also Sufis. Lastly, I ask you to supplicate to Allaah for me and my family. May Allaah bless you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The hadeeth that was reported about praising the conqueror of Constantinople was reported by Imaam Ahmad  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him in his Musnad and it was narrated by Abdullaah ibn Bishr Al-Khath’ami, from his father that he heard the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) say, “You will conquer Constantinople. The best commander is its commander and the best army is its army." There is a difference of opinion about the authenticity of this hadeeth; Al-Haakim and Ath-Thahabi classified it as saheeh (sound), while Al-Albaani and Al-Arnaa’oot classified it as weak.

Nonetheless, the conquest of Constantinople is confirmed in Saheeh Muslim and other works, but without praising its army and commander.

Shaykh Hammoud At-Tuwaijri, in his book It-haaf Al-Jamaa’ah, has the view that the conquest of Constantinople that is meant in the ahaadeeth is what will happen at the end of time shortly before the emergence of the Dajjaal  (Anti-Christ) and that this conquest did not yet occur and that it was not the conquest that occurred at the hands of Muhammad Al-Faatih. He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

"Constantinople was conquered in 857 AH at the hands of the Ottoman Turkman Sultan Muhammad Al-Faatih (he was called Al-Faatih - the Conqueror - because he was the one who conquered Constantinople), and Constantinople is still in the hands of the Ottomans in our time at the end of the fourteenth century AH. This conquest is not the one that was mentioned in the ahaadeeth that have been mentioned above because that [conquest] can only take place after the great battle and shortly before the emergence of the Dajjaal, as already discussed in several ahaadeeth in this chapter, as will be mentioned in the hadeeth by Mu’aath and Abdullaah ibn Bishr  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them. The conquest of Constantinople will be with tasbeeh (saying, Subhaan Allaah), tahleel (saying, La illaaha illa Allaah) and takbeer (saying, Allaahu Akbar) and not with an abundant number (of soldiers) or having abundant weapons, as explicitly stated in many ahaadeeth in this chapter. Constantinople will be conquered at the hands of the Arabs and not at the hands of the Turkmen. This is evidenced by the saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) narrated by ‘Amr ibn ‘Awf  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: “...then the strong youth of the Muslims of Hijaaz, who do not fear the blame of a critic in the Way of Allaah, will come out to them, until Allaah makes them conquer Constantinople and Rome with tasbeeh and takbeer.” Also, the hadeeth by Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him in Saheeh Muslim reads: “...then an army from Madeenah will come out to them who will be the best of the people of the entire Earth at that time.” Besides, the hadeeth of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar reads: “The Muslims will help each other until the people of Adan Abian will provide them with help.” Also, the hadeeth narrated by Makhmar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him: “The Romans will say to their leader: We will suffice you from the Arabs, then they will betray [their covenant with the Arabs], and they will gather for the battle.” This proves that the great battle will take place between the Arabs and the Romans and it is those who will fight in this great battle who will conquer Constantinople. The commander of the army who will conquer it at the end of time when the Dajjaal will emerge is the one who is praised along with his army, as already mentioned in the hadeeth narrated by Abdullaah ibn Bishr Al-Khath’ami from his father. The hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him mentioned earlier, which was reported by Al-Khateeb in ‘Al-Muttafiq wal-Muftariq’, reads: "The Commander of the army at that time shall be from the household of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ).” What should be mentioned here is that the conquest mentioned in the ahaadeeth in this chapter has not yet happened, and it will take place at the end of time, when the Dajjaal will emerge. The scholars who interpreted it to mean what happened in the year 857 AH have erred and said what they had no knowledge of.” [End of quote]

If we presume that the conquest mentioned in the hadeeth refers to the conquest of the Commander Muhammad Al-Faatih  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him then there is no evidence in it about the validity of the methodology of the Ash'ari, Matureedi or Sufi sects. Praising a person does not necessarily mean absolute praise for him or that all his affairs are the truth – if we presume that the hadeeth is authentic, but there is a difference of opinion about that, as we have already mentioned.

Moreover, the Companions were praised in hundreds of ahaadeeth, so they are worthy to be imitated, followed in their way and taken as an example.

As regards your question regarding the belief of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, then this is a historical question, and not an Islamic one, and there is not much benefit for a Muslim in his religion in knowing this matter. The fact that the sultans of the Ottoman Empire were Sufis or were grave worshippers (i.e. calling upon the dead) is not evidence for any sane person to say that these innovated ways are authentic.

There is no doubt that innovations, whether grave worshipping or other ones, have become widespread in the last era and have affected many people, including rulers and  common people.

Allaah Knows best.

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