Monday, November 30, 2009

Ottomon Defenders part 2

On the second Friday in April 1918 after the prayers in Madinah, a Turkish officer slowly ascended the steps of the pulpit, draped in the Ottomon flag. Omer Fahruddin Pasha (also spelt as Fakhri Pasha or Umar Fakhr ud-Din Pasha) was the general commanding Ottomons in Madinah. Halfway up the steps, the general turned to face the congregation, which included many officers and men. A witness described the scene like this - "Stillness reigned in the Mosque. Waves of amber and musk rose from the silver censers behind the railing surrounding the Apostle's grave. For a moment, the General's eyes seemed absorbed in the contemplation of the candles burning besides the mausoleum. Then he raised his right hand and declared 'Apostle of God, I will not abandon you'. Turning to the uniformed men he said "Soldiers, I appeal to you in the presence of the Apostle who lies in his grave, but hears the words spoken here. I invite you to engage yourselves to defend him, to our last cartridge and our last breath, no matter how strong our enemies may be. God help us, and may the Apostle's spiritual aid be with us!" You officers of the heroic Turkish army and you little Muhammads (appellation for Turkish soldiers) who are used to paying your debt to your faith with your lives, come, take with me this engagement before our Lord.'"

Immediately, the Turkish soldiers rushed towards the Prophet's (peace be upon him) grave to make their pledge.

The defense of Madinah from Arab forces had become next to impossible for the Ottomons as they besieged from all sides of the empire. Emil Esin in her book mentions that Jamal Pasha (Commander in Damascus) asked his men whether they should give up on Madinah. Mustafa Kamal Pasha, now known as Ataturk, replied that he did not want to go down in history as the man who abandoned Madinah. Ironically, he abandoned the religion! Emil Esin is Turkish and perhaps Ataturk is shown positively, or maybe he did actually think so back then.

Back to Fahruddin Pasha. This man was continued to ignore orders from his superiors to surrender - even that of the Ottomon Caliph. His men had started eating locusts due to shortage of food and supplies from Damascus. But, he was oblivious to his situation. He had started building and repairing the Mosque and other surrounding areas. Women and children had already evacuated the Holy City.

One night while Fahruddin Pasha was keeping long vigils, a group of officers overpowered his comrades and and came in to the Pasha's quarters. They begged him to surrender and end this senseless resistance, especially when they had received orders from the Caliph. Sharif Husain's party had specified that the surrender of Fahruddin Pasha was necessary and thus the officers forced him out, but he broke free from them and rushed towards the Apostle's grave and laid down his sword, thus claiming sanctuary.

Emel Esin writes, that unfortunately, Fahruddin Pasha lived in an age when Knightly behavior could be mistaken for lack of judgement. The broken-hearted man and now silent man was taken away to captivity and exile, watched by the crowds who shouted their farewells to him.

The last Ottomon was thus relieved of his watch in the Apostle's mosque. And an era came to an end.

More on Pasha and his picture:

More details of the event here, including the letter he sent to Sharif Hussein, and the vision he had of the Prophet (peace be upon him) :

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