Sultan Mehmet Fatih

Okay so i cheated with my last post- i put up photos of Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Fatih meaning the "opener". He's known as that because in 1453 he conquered a little city called Constantinople and annexed it into the Ottoman Empire.

Now i didn't study all the Ottoman Sultans as well as i should have, i only read up on the ones that had relevant world impact and something about the nature of Fatih really stuck with me.

Even though his claim to fame was laying siege to Constantinople, his merit to me comes from his military prowess, uber-confidence at the very young age of 21.

in 1444, his father Sultan Murat II, willingly gave up authority to Mehmet when he was 12. Mehmet in turn ordered his father to lead the army in the "battle of Varna" and Murat complied. Murat kept the seat of the Sultan until he died in 1451, when Mehmet succeeded him at age 19.

He opened constantinople two years after that and did it in a quite interesting way. He had his naval fleet in the Sea of Marmara south of Constantinople and controlled a fortress/castle to the north blocking any access to the Black Sea. Constantinople was effectively "embargoed". The Byzantines controlled the Golden Horn and thus Mehmet couldn't actually get access to the city ports. He ended up transporting his ships overland which put him in position to take the heart of the city. He broke into the citywalls by employing the largest cannons constructed at the time.

Here's a fun 10 minute video courtesy of the History Channel:

I pulled this out of Wikipedia by a contemporary Greek historian, George Sphrantezes:

On the third day after the fall of our city, the Sultan celebrated his victory with a great, joyful triumph. He issued a proclamation: the citizens of all ages who had managed to escape detection were to leave their hiding places throughout the city and come out into the open, as they were remain free and no question would be asked. He further declared the restoration of houses and property to those who had abandoned our city before the siege, if they returned home, they would be treated according to their rank and religion, as if nothing had changed.

Here i'll stop with the historical junk and put in my reflections.

Imagine that in the present day! A human at the age of 21 has mastered military, strategic and practical world techniques to conquer one of the Gem cities of a Great Empire! This is nothing to do with a Muslim conquering a Christian capital, rather i'm talking about the caliber of Human capacity. Whenever I learn about a notable figure and discover their age i'm surprised at what they've achieved when i at the same age haven't really mastered any technique.

Someone much more contemporary that amazes me is Lebron James, or any of these guys in the NBA from the last 5years who are roughly my age and have reached a pinnacle of greatness. I think that observing greatness or something close to perfection is something anyone can enjoy, regardless of what is- music, sports, writing, science just because its beautiful.

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Getting back to Mehmet Fatih, the district in Istanbul that bears his name also bears his namesake mosque and tomb.

I went and visited the fatih district with the one and only lotta chan and i loved the mosque complex and the neighborhood. When we got inside the camii (mosque) some dude swindled us into giving him money. I was really angry at the time, and i think i still would be if went back and he deceives people like that again.

Basically we were oohing and aahing at the mosque interior and i was taking my photos. This guy beckons to us, brings us to a side room and sits us down. He asks about where we're from, and asks us if we know the history of Istanbul. He tells us he's a history teacher, and in very generic terms tells us how Mehmet "opened" the city in 1453. He goes on to tell us how the Mosque underwent reconstruction thrice because of earthquakes and that Fatih is actually buried underneath the minbar(pulpit). He gives both of us regular tasbihs (rosary beads) and walks us to the door. He then drops the line that he's collecting funds for a school adjacent to the camii and that if we wish we can pay a little tribute when we leave. I'm like oh okay, and then he puts his hand out wanting money from us. I was reluctant to give so, and Chan quickly pulled out some loot. Dude now REALLY REALLY pisses me off by saying something along the lines "Oh you are a Muslim brother, you should give money to other Muslims" I just stared at him, not budging. Chan gives over money, and he asked for a specific amount, like 10 liras. Then he says not at me "Oh it is all right, he doesn't trust me, he does not have to give me money" Out of spite, and i knew that he achieved his goal of unsettling my duty as a Muslim i gave him 2 liras or something and walked away. I wanted to call him out, on the basis first of all for begging, second for judging my personal resoluteness to God, and thirdly for purposely manipulating my beliefs/emotions into getting money for himself. It killed me.

It doesn't really matter what he does with the money, that wasn't my concern. It is in our Islamic tradition to give away freely without putting conditions on those whom you give to. What matters most is the means in which you do something. Ends never justify the means. The means must be moral and must not hurt people. I know it easier said than done, but its still something we should strive for rather than disregard.

For an individual to approach us kindly, treat us with a little gift, then aggressively ask for tributes are not the right means. But God does know best, maybe i was blind by my own standards for righteousness and failed the lesson of giving freely.

Okay! i'll finalllllly end with a photo link!

Fatih District Photos

Goru Suruz arkadaslar!