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Fixing the Warped Narrative of Hamza Yusuf and his Misuse of the Hadith: “Verily, you shall conquer Constantinople”

Compiled
Abu Sinan
Abu Khuzaimah Ansari

 

Setting the Foundations

Hamza Yusuf in a youtube video attempts to misue the hadith, “Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her (army) leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be” to claim Allah’s Messenger Prophecised this blessed leader will be Sultan Muhammad Fatih (Mehmed II) and since he was a Maturidi, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ blessed the Maturidiyyah!!!

Hamza Yusuf begins by stating the Muslims had no councils to determine what orthodoxy is and isn’t, this sets the foundations for his later claim that the Ummah agreed upon 3 schools of Aqidah (Ash’ariyyah, Maturidiyyah, Athariyyah), and all praise is for Allah who gave us proofs to follow the Salaf in his Majestic Book:

And the foremost to embrace Islâm of the Muhâjirûn (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansâr (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhâjirûn) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allâh is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success. [At-Tawbah : 100]

And as has come in the Sunnah regarding the excellence of the Salaf:

A man asked the Prophet ﷺ which of the people are best, He ﷺ said, “The generation I am in, then the second (after) then the third (after them).” (Sahih Muslim no.2536)

So once the superiority of the Salaf has been established, we can return to the works of the Salaf and their students who wrote Ijma’ (consensus) works establishing the true Aqidah of Ahlus-Sunnah and compare this to the Aqidah of the latecomers of the Asha’irah and Maturidis who followed their forefathers from the Jahmiyyah in the Sifat of Allah (attributes).

Abu Hatim and Abu Zur’ah (Ar-Raziyayn) said:

“We reached the scholars of all the cities of Hijaz, Iraq, Egypt, Sham, and Yemen, and this was from their madhab (position): Iman is speech and action, increasing and decreasing….And they also prohibited from joining the sittings of Ahlul-Kalam and looking into the books of the Mutakallimin, and they both would say: “Sahibul Kalam will not be successful, ever.” (Aqidah ar-Raziyayn: Sharh Usool Al-I’tiqad Ahlus Sunnah of Lalaka’i 1:137, (Dar Al-Hadith: Cairo, 1420H/2003CE)

This shows agreement of the Salaf on matters of belief and the fundamentals of Islam; this was the orthodoxy of the Muslims and what they unanimously agreed upon on matters of belief.

And Imam Harb b. Isma’il, the Scholar of Kirman, companion of Imam Ahmad, said,

“This is the madhab of Imams of knowledge and the people of athar and Ahlus Sunnah who are known to hold onto it and who are followed in it from the Companions of the Prophet Sallalahu alayhi Wasallam until our time. And I met whoever I was able to meet from the scholars of Iraq, Hijaz, Sham and other lands and whoever opposed anything from these Madhahib or critices them or faults those who adopt it then he is an opposer, an innovator who leaves the Jama’ah and deviated from the Manhaj of the Sunnah and the path of truth…” (Harb b. Isma’il al-Kirmani, Ijma’ As-Salaf Fil I’tiqad of (p.33-34), Dar Al-Imam Ahmad, 2nd Edition, 1433H/2012CE)

He continued and said,

“Al-Iman is in speech, deeds, intention, and holding onto the Sunnah.” And “Whoever claims that ma’rifah (i.e. acknowledgment of iman) in the heart benefits even if he does not speak with it then he is a Jahmi” (Ijma As-Salaf fil I’tiqad, (p.35-39)

This book by Imam al-Kirmani who died in 280H was authored as based on the consensus of the Salaf on matters of Aqidah or Creed, which again shows the Salaf and Ahlus Sunnah had an established, clear and well outlined belief system which nullifies the need to have some Christian equivalent counsel!

And Imam Al-Bukhari says in his Sahih, a book which has been accepted by the entire Ummah,

“And it [Iman] is Speech and action, and it increases and decreases.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab ul-Iman, (1:193), Dar At-Ta’seel, 1433H/2012CE)

And Abu Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Sallam wrote,

“And I looked into the ikhtilaf of the two groups (on the matter of Iman), then I found that the Kitab and Sunnah both confirm the group that deemed Iman to be Niyyah and Speech and Action, entirely.” (Abu Ubayd Al-Qasim bin Sallam: Kitab ul-Iman of (p.10), Maktabah Al-Islami, 2nd Edition, 1403H/1983CE)

And verily this work of his (Kitab Al-Iman) was authored before Al-Maturidi was even born.

Picture 1

 

Picture 2

 

And Abu Mansur Al-Maturidi in his Kitab At-Tawhid discussing Iman, says it is ‘Tasdeeq’ i.e. belief of the heart, and it is clear that the Maturidis are in agreement with the Jahmiyyah that Iman is a matter of the heart alone, with slight differing (i.e. Ma’rifah or Tasdeeq), and from these points it is evident that the Maturidis (along with their Ash’ari counterparts) are most definitely not from some sort of 3 standardised schools of Ahlus-Sunnah as the Sufi Hamza Yusuf tries to claim, rather they are from the extreme murji’ah and directly went against the consensus of the Salaf in many matters pertaining to Aqidah. Now we have established that the Salaf and their students indeed did pen down works on what is Orthodox Islamic Creed, and the latecomers from Ahlul-Kalam were in clear opposition to this creed.

Imam al-Bukhari in on record for saying,

“I met more than 1000 men from the people of knowledge, from the people of Hijaz, Makkah, Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, Wasit, Baghdad, Sham and Misr…..and not a single one of them differed regarding these affairs….” (Al-Lalaka’i, Sharh Usul I’tiqad, 1:361+ (Riyadh/Madinah, an-Nashiral-Mutamayyiz/ Dar un-Nasihah, 1436H/2015CE)

Imam al-Bukhari mentions some of the names of the great scholars he met and took Aqidah from and details his visitation to the various Muslims lands, even the number of times he visited the vast Muslim cities, all to show the unanimous agreement of the Muslims on aspects of belief or what Hamza Yusuf refers to as orthodoxy.

Imam Al-Lalaka’i himself in his book Sharh Usul al-I’tiqad sets out to establish the clear belief the Companions and Successors were upon with clear and precise evidence and he has entries for numerous scholars and their orthodox beliefs and he died in 418H.

From the time before Imam al-A’jurri was from 360H and he clarifies in his book ash-Shari’ah the deviation of the misguided sects and the group or the Jama’ah upon the correct belief system, way before the structured formation of the Ash’ari or Maturidi creedal systems.

There are a plethora of books that establish and clarify the agreed and ratified belief system of Ahlus Sunnah, much earlier and before the Ash’ari or Maturidi schools were established!

Hamza Yusuf further contradicts himself when he said in the introduction of his translation of The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi where he said, “For centuries, Muslims followed simple, concise doctrinal texts that unified them and prevented from falling prey to those who would challenge the central tenets of faith.” (The Creed of Imam al-Tahahwi, (p.8)

Hamza Yusuf continues and says,“So, the Prophet was praising a Hanafi, Maturidi, Naqshbandi…” Verily, you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful army that army will be, and what a wonderful commander that commander will be. [The narration used]

It is not uncommon to see Ahlul Kalam – Ash’ari and Maturidis desperately citing this narration as the Prophet ﷺ praising a Maturidi, and thus evidence the Maturidi creed is upon the truth and an acceptable school of Aqidah. Those that possess any intellect would be able to see through this faulty appeal on multiple levels. In reality this has become somewhat of a compulsive and repugnant behaviour with them which is ultimately the result of bigoted partisanship and blind following

A Look at the Sanad

The narration transmitted in Al-Bukhari’s, at-Tarikh al-Kabir (2:441 no.1754) (an-Nashir al-Mutamayyiz: Riyadh:1440H/2019) and in Musnad Ahmad (31:287 no.18957) (ar-Risalah al-A’lamiyyah: Dimashq, 1436H/2015CE) is with the following chain

قَالَ لِي مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْعَلاءِ ، قَالَ : حَدَّثَنَا زَيْدُ بْنُ حُبَابٍ ، حَدَّثَنَا الْوَلِيدُ بْنُ الْمُغِيرَةِ الْمَعَافِرِيُّ ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ بْنِ بِشْرٍ الْغَنَوِيِّ ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ ، سَمِعَ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ : ” لَتُفْتَحَنَّ القسطنطينية فَلَنِعْمَ الأَمِيرُ أَمِيرُهَا وَلَنِعْمَ الْجَيْشُ ذَلِكَ الْجَيْشُ 

 

Zayd b. Hubab (Trustworthy, Kufan)

from

Walid b. Mughira (Trustworthy, Egyptian)

from

Ubayd b. Bishr (Majhool, Kufan)

One can immediately see that a Kufan is narrating from an Egyptian, from a Kufan again, the first point we can ponder on. Furthermore, Zayd b. Hubab is alone in narrating this from Walid, i.e., he is the exclusive narrator. Furthermore, Walid b. Mughira is exclusively narrating from Ubayd or Abdullah b. Bishr, who is Majhool.

 

Picture 3

Ali b. Al-Madini in Tarikh Ad-Dimashq (58:36), (Dar ul-Fikr: Beirut, 1418H/1997CE)

 

Picture 4

Shaykh Al-Albani in Silsilatul Ahadith Ad-Da’ifah (2:269 no.878), (Riyadh: al-Maktabaj al-Ma’rif, 1420H/2000CE)

 

Picture 5

Shaykh Shu’ayb Arna’ut in his Tahqiq of Musnad Ahmad (31:287 no.18957) (ar-Risalah al-A’lamiyyah: Dimashq, 1436H/2015CE)

 

Considering these factors, the narration has been weakened by Shaykh Al-Albani, Shaykh Arna’ut, and Shaykh Ahmed Shakir. Nothing more than Ahlul-Bid’ah clutching straws to find ways to defend their beliefs.

The narrations authenticity is doubtful and at the very most it is questionable. Although some people like Muhammad Hamud at-Tasamani said the hadith was Hasan in al-Fawa’id as-Saniyyah Min al-Hadith al-Waridah Fi al-Qustantiniyyah (p.72), Shirkah Dar ul-Basha’ir al-Islamiyyah: Beirut, 1440H/2019CE). He further repeats the claim of this prophecy is for Sultan Muhammad Fatih al-Uthmani who conquered Constantinople  

Other narrations regarding the Conquest of Constantinople

Abu Hurairah Radhi Alahu Anhu reported Allah’s Messenger Sallalhu Alayhi Wasallam saying:

You have heard about a city, one side of which is on land and the other is in the sea (Constantinople). They said: Allah’s Messenger, yes. Thereupon he said: The Last Hour would not come unless seventy thousand persons from Bani lshaq would attack it. When they would land there, they will neither fight with weapons nor would shower arrows but would only say: “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest,” and one side of it would fall. Thaur (one of the narrators) said: I think that he said: The part by the side of the ocean. Then they would say for the second time: “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest” and the second side would also fall, and they would say: “There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest,” and the gates would be opened for them and they would enter therein and, they would be collecting spoils of war and distributing them amongst themselves when a noise would be heard saying: Verily, Dajjal has come. And thus they would leave everything there and go back. (Sahih Muslim (no.2920)

This authentic narration regarding the conquest of Constantinople can be found in Sahih Muslim, and this narration establishes that that the conquest will be during end-times.

Another authentic narration from Anas b. Malik:

“Constantinople will be conquered with the coming of the Hour.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi (no.2239), Sahih in Mawqoof form)

Shaikh Zubair Ali Za’i was asked,

Question: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “The first army from my Ummah that wages jihad on the sea, Paradise is guaranteed for them”. (Sahih al-Bukhari (no.2924). Was Mu’awiyyah (Raḍi Allāhū ʾAnhū) the first to wage Jihad on the ocean (/sea)?

Answer: Mu’awiyyah b. Abi Sufyan (Raḍi Allāhū ʾAnhū) participated in this first Jihad on the ocean. (Sahih al-Bukhari, (no.2799-2800).

This Jihad occurred during the Caliphate of Mu’awiyyah (Raḍi Allāhū ʾAnhū). (Sahih al-Bukhari, (no.6282-6283) Wal-Hamdulillah. (Al-Hadith Magazine, Issue 27)

Shaikh Zubair Ali Za’i further explains in his Tahqiqi Maqalat (1:305+).

War Expedition to Constantinople and the Virtue of Mu’awiyyah RadhiAllahu Anhu

 

حَدَّثَنِي إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ يَزِيدَ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ حَمْزَةَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي ثَوْرُ بْنُ يَزِيدَ، عَنْ خَالِدِ بْنِ مَعْدَانَ، أَنَّ عُمَيْرَ بْنَ الأَسْوَدِ الْعَنْسِيَّ، حَدَّثَهُ أَنَّهُ، أَتَى عُبَادَةَ بْنَ الصَّامِتِ وَهْوَ نَازِلٌ فِي سَاحِلِ حِمْصَ، وَهْوَ فِي بِنَاءٍ لَهُ وَمَعَهُ أُمُّ حَرَامٍ، قَالَ عُمَيْرٌ فَحَدَّثَتْنَا أُمُّ حَرَامٍ أَنَّهَا سَمِعَتِ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‌‏ أَوَّلُ جَيْشٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَغْزُونَ الْبَحْرَ قَدْ أَوْجَبُوا ‏”‌‏.‏ قَالَتْ أُمُّ حَرَامٍ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَنَا فِيهِمْ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏‏ أَنْتِ فِيهِمْ ‏”‌‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ أَوَّلُ جَيْشٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَغْزُونَ مَدِينَةَ قَيْصَرَ مَغْفُورٌ لَهُمْ ‏”‌‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ أَنَا فِيهِمْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏لاَ

Narrated Khalid b. Madan: That Umayr b. Al-Aswad Al-Anasi told him that he went to Ubadah b. As-Samit while he was staying in his house at the sea-shore of Hims with (his wife) Umm Haram. Umayr said. Umm Haram informed us that she heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “Paradise is granted to the first group of my followers who will undertake a naval expedition.” Umm Haram added, I said, ‘Oh Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Will I be amongst them?’ He replied, ‘You are amongst them.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, ‘The first army amongst’ my followers who will invade Caesar’s City (Constantinople) will be forgiven their sins.’ I asked, ‘Will I be one of them, Oh Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?’ He replied in the negative.” (Sahih al-Bukhari (no.2924)

There were attacks on Caesars city (i.e. Constantinople) during the era of the Companions. Historically we find the following expeditions,

1. Mu’awiyyah RadhiAllahu Anhu

He led an expedition in 32H (Tarikh Tabari (4/304), al-Ibar of al-Dhahabi (1/24), al-Muntazam of Ibn al-Jawzi (5/19), al-Bidayah (7/166).

We also learn that he attacked the Constantinople and other Roman lands 16 times between the years 48H and 52H. (Al-Bidayah 8/133).

2. Sufyan b. Awf RadhiAllahu Anhu

In 48H (al-Isabah 2/56). This view was also mentioned by Muhammad al-Khudayri in his book Muhadharat al-Umam al-Islamiyyah (2/114). He was sent by Mu’awiyyah RadhiAllahu Anhu.

3. Abd al-Rahman b. Khalid b. Al-Walid

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ السَّرْحِ، حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ، عَنْ حَيْوَةَ بْنِ شُرَيْحٍ، وَابْنِ، لَهِيعَةَ عَنْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ أَبِي حَبِيبٍ، عَنْ أَسْلَمَ أَبِي عِمْرَانَ، قَالَ ‏:‏ غَزَوْنَا مِنَ الْمَدِينَةِ نُرِيدُ الْقُسْطَنْطِينِيَّةَ، وَعَلَى الْجَمَاعَةِ عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ خَالِدِ بْنِ الْوَلِيدِ وَالرُّومُ مُلْصِقُو ظُهُورِهِمْ بِحَائِطِ الْمَدِينَةِ، فَحَمَلَ رَجُلٌ عَلَى الْعَدُوِّ فَقَالَ النَّاسُ ‏:‏ مَهْ، مَهْ، لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ، يُلْقِي بِيَدَيْهِ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَبُو أَيُّوبَ ‏:‏ إِنَّمَا نَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الآيَةُ فِينَا مَعْشَرَ الأَنْصَارِ لَمَّا نَصَرَ اللَّهُ نَبِيَّهُ وَأَظْهَرَ الإِسْلاَمَ، قُلْنَا ‏:‏ هَلُمَّ نُقِيمُ فِي أَمْوَالِنَا وَنُصْلِحُهَا، فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى ‏{‏ وَأَنْفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلاَ تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ ‏}‏ فَالإِلْقَاءُ بِالأَيْدِي إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ أَنْ نُقِيمَ فِي أَمْوَالِنَا وَنُصْلِحَهَا وَنَدَعَ الْجِهَادَ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِمْرَانَ ‏:‏ فَلَمْ يَزَلْ أَبُو أَيُّوبَ يُجَاهِدُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ حَتَّى دُفِنَ بِالْقُسْطَنْطِينِيَّةِ

Aslam Abu Imran said: We went out on an expedition from Medina with the intention of (attacking) Constantinople. AbdurRahman ibn Khalid ibn al-Walid was the leader of the company. The Romans were just keeping their backs to the walls of the city. A man (suddenly) attacked the enemy. Thereupon the people said: Stop! Stop! There is no god but Allah. He is putting himself into danger. Abu Ayyub said: This ayah was revealed about us, the group of the Ansar (the Helpers). When Allah helped His Prophet (ﷺ) and gave Islam dominance, we said (i.e. thought): Come on! Let us stay in our property and improve it. Thereupon Allah, the Exalted, revealed, “And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your hands contribute to (your destruction)”. To put oneself into danger means that we stay in our property and commit ourselves to its improvement and abandon fighting. Abu Imran said: Abu Ayyub continued to strive in the cause of Allah until he (died and) was buried in Constantinople.” (Sunan Abi Dawud (no.2512), authenticated by Shaykh al-Albani. It has also been cited in al-Mustadrak of al-Hakim (2/84-85), Tafsir al-Tabari, (2/118-119), Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim (1/330-331), Ahkam al-Quran of al-Jassas (1/326-327)

Another Hadith in Abu Dawud (no.2687), which although has weakness in it, establishes the expedition of Abd al-Rahman and Abu Ayub RadhiAllahu Anhu.

These hadith and reports show Constantinople was conquered during the era of the Companions and therefore Hamza Yusuf’s warping the true narrative to fit the maturidi belief system is disingenuous. Those who are truly deserving of these glad tidings are the noble Companions.

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