Will you explain the hadith informing about the conquest of Istanbul?

The Details of the Question

Will you explain the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) informing about the conquest of Istanbul?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to what was reported from Bishr al-Ghanawi, he heard the Prophet (pbuh) say,

"Istanbul will definitely be conquered. What a good commander is the one who conquers it and what a good army is his army!"1

References: The hadith that definitely informs us about the conquest of Istanbul without giving rise to any hesitation about eight and a half centuries before its conquest exists in the period of Kutub as-Sitta and even in the resources compiled before. Ahmed b. Hanbal’s (d. 241/855) Musnad, Bukhari’s (d. 256/870) at-Tarikhul-Kabir wa-Tarikhus-Saghir, Ibn Abi Haythama’s (d. 279/892) Kitabut-Tarikh and Bazzar’s (d. 292/905) Musnad are the resources of the hadith in the period of compilation.

In the later periods, Tabarani's al-Mu'jamul-Kabir, Ibn Qani’s (d. 351/962) Mu'jamus-Sahaba, Hakim’s (d. 405/1014) Mustadrak are important resources for that hadith. From Khatib Baghdadi’s (d. 911/1505) at-Talkhis (I, 283) to Suyuti’s (d. 911/ 1505) al-Jamius-Saghir, the latest period works also include the hadith.

On the other hand, the hadith is also mentioned in the biographies of the Companions like al-Istiab, Usdul-Ghaba and al-Isaba in the item of Bishr al-Ghanawi. It should not be thought that the hadith is not sound because it does not exists in the six hadith books (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasai, Ibn Majah).

For, in terms of methodology, as the great scholar Qasim b. Qutlubugha states appropriately, "The soundness of a hadith is determined by checking the states of the people who narrated it, not by looking at in which book it exists."3

The chain of narrators of the hadith is almost the same in all resources. The result obtained from the narrators in the chain separately is that the chain is uninterrupted.

Therefore, Hakim says, "the chain is sound"; Dhahabi, the famous scholar on narrators agrees with the view of Hakim and says that the hadith is "sound". Besides, there are several more hadiths mentioning that Istanbul will be conquered and some of them are included in Kutub as-Sitta.4

The following fact should never be forgotten: That a hadith does not exist in Kutub as-Sitta does not mean that it is not sound (sahih). There are many sound hadiths in the resources other than Kutub as-Sitta too. That hadith is one of them.

None of the scholars who wrote books about "the statements fabricated as hadiths"  claimed that the hadith we mention was "fabricated" but Mahmud Abu Rayya, who regards himself as more knowledgeable than Abu Hanifa and Shafii, 5, and who is closer to orientalists and Shiites put forward the following claim: "It is probable that this hadith was fabricated for Yazid b. Muawiya because he was the commander of the army in the war of Qustantiniyya."6 Thus, he shows what a baseless, unserious and partial approach he has. For, the glad tiding in the hadith is not for the army that besieged Qustantiniyya but the commander and army that conquered it. This approach shows how arbitrary Abu Rayya can be in his other views.

Nasiruddin al-Albani, who acts in a very relaxed way while evaluating hadiths says that Ibn Hibban's positive view about Abdullah b. Bishr al-Ghanawi does not satisfy him and hence he says, "In my opinion, this hadith is not sound." Thus, he indicates that it is “weak”.7

It is clear that a personal view that is based on such a reason has no aspect to be taken into consideration.


1. Ahmad bin Hanbal, IV, 335; Bukhari, at-Tarikhul-Kabir, I (part two), 81; at-Tarikhus-Saghir, I, 341; Tabarani, al-Mu'jamul-Kabir, II, 24; Hakim, Mustadrak IV, 422; Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, VI, 219; see Hadislerle Gerçekler, Vol. 2; p. 251-254)
2. See Ali Yardım, "Fetih Hadisi Üzerinde Bir Araştırma", Diyanet dergisi XIII, 2. p, 116-123, Ankara, nd.
3. Qasimi, Kawaid, p. 82.
4. See Bukhari, Jihad, 93, 157; Abu Dawud, Jihad, 22; Fitan, 6; Malahim, 3-4; Tirmidhi, Fitan, 5; Ibn Majah, Jihad, 11; Fitan, 35; Darimi, Muqaddima, 43.
5. See P. Murtaza ar-Razawi, Ma'a Rijalil-Fikr fil-Kahira. p. 292.
6. See Muhammedî Sünnetin Aydınlatılması, p.145.
7. See Silsilatul-Ahadithid-Daifa, II, 268-269.

(Prof. Dr. İsmail Lütfi ÇAKAN)

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