The authentic hadith we posted about the conquest of Constantinople is usually interpreted to refer to the conquest that already took place at the hand of Muhammad Fatih -- may Allah be well-pleased with him. However, in the light of the Qur'an and other hadiths this narration has also received another interpretation which places its occurrence in the future.
"Verily you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will her leader be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!"
Narrated from Bishr al-Khathʿami or al-Ghanawi by:
Ahmad, al-Musnad 14:331 #18859 [sahih chain according to Hamza al-Zayn] al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak 4:421-422 [sahih according to him and al-Dhahabi concurred] al-Tabarani, al-Muʿjam al-Kabir 2:38 #1216 [sahih chain according to al-Haythami 6:218-219] al-Bukhari, al-Tarikh al-Kabir 2:81 and al-Saghir 1:306 Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istiʿab 8:170 [hasan chain according to him] al-Suyuti, al-Jamiʿ al-Saghir [sahih according to him]
Some of the people of knowledge in our time said: This is a reference to one of the battles to be waged by al-Mahdi -- peace upon him -- and his army after the descent of ʿIsa -- Allah bless and greet him. The Latter-Day sequence of events that emerges from the reports is thus:
1- The conclusion of all the "minor signs of the Hour." These signs are between 65 and 100 signs depending on the strength of the reports, and they have all taken place. Insha Allah we will post them at some later point.
2- The truce and joint Christian-Muslim campaign against a common enemy -- this is referred to as the "Battle Between the Two Great Armies" or Armageddon (at the conclusion of which all war technology shall become unusable) -- followed by a Christian vs. Muslim war -- this is called the "Great Slaughter" (al-malhama al-kubra) -- as stated in the following hadith:
"You will make a firm truce with the Christians (al-Rum) until you and they wage a campaign against an enemy that is attacking them. You will be granted victory and great spoils. Then you will alight in a plain surrounded by hills. There, someone among the Christians shall say: 'The Cross has overcome!' whereupon someone among the Muslims shall say: 'Nay, Allah has overcome!' and shall go and break the cross.
The Christians shall kill him, then the Muslims shall take up their arms and the two sides shall fall upon each other.
Allah shall grant martyrdom to that group of Muslims. After that the Christians shall say to their leader: 'We shall relieve you of the Arabs,' and they shall gather up for the great battle (al-malhama). They shall come to you under eighty flags, each flag gathering 12,000 troops." [approx. 1 million]
Narrated with sound chains from Dhu Mikhbar al-Najashi by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim who declared it sahih and al-Dhahabi concurred. See Shaykh Shuʿayb Arna'ut's documentation of this hadith in his edition of Sahih Ibn Hibban (15:101-103 #6708-6709).
3- The Muslims shall pledge their loyalty to the Prophet's descendent Muhammad ibn ʿAbd Allah al-Mahdi between the Corner of the Black Stone and Ibrahim's station, against his will. He shall then come to Madina. At that time the Anti-Christ (al-Masih al-Dajjal) shall come out.
4- The Christian army shall be the aggressor, and they will come to a place called al-Aʿmaq or Dabiq in al-Sham as stated in Sahih Muslim. During that time a large number of the Christians shall defect and enter Islam.
5- Between the time of the initial Christian treachery and their coming out to Dabiq, the Prophet said ﷺ that nine months will elapse, during which the Mahdi will wage two campaigns initiated by the Dajjal, one against the Arabs that shall not recognize him, and one against the Persians of Khurasan i.e. Iran that shall not recognize him. Both campaigns are mentioned in Sahih Muslim. Included in the former group will be all the so-called followers of "Qur'an-only" who will reject the Mahdi on the pretext that he is not mentioned in the Qur'an. Among the latter group will be all the so-called lovers of Ahl al-Bayt who will reject the Mahdi on the pretext that he is not their disappeared twelfth Imam, al-ʿAskari, whose reappearance they presently await.
6- Al-Mahdi will come out of Madina at the head of a huge army to face al-Dajjal and the Christians for the Great Slaughter. This shall take place in Sham.
7- The Mahdi will find himself surrounded by the armies of the Dajjal. ʿIsa shall descend, lead the Muslim armies out, and kill the Dajjal. The rest of the Muslim campaigns shall remove all trace of unbelief from the face of the earth.
8- At this time Constantinople shall be taken by peaceful means. The army that will conquer it shall consist in seventy thousand of the Banu Ishaq i.e. Western Muslims and their sole weapons will be Shahada and Takbir as stated in Sahih Muslim. This is the event referred to in the hadith we cited initially.
9- The Mahdi shall defeat the following in rapid succession: the last third of the Jews (two thirds having perished at Armageddon); the "Turks" -- also called "Khawz and Kirman" in the hadith -- whose features in the hadith are applicable to both Central and Far-Eastern Asians; Gog and Magog.
10- Other major signs* follow before the rising of the Hour, such as the coming out of the Beast and the rising of the Sun in the West, at which time the gate of repentence shall be closed shut forever, and Allah knows best.
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