Many will be aware of the new Hollywood film which has been recently released entitled: ‘Dracula Untold’. It might not be well known that, supernatural powers aside, the tale of Dracula is actually based on a real person. Unfortunately however, this film is such a fictitious remake that it speaks volumes about the rise of Islamophobia as well as it does about the West’s attempts to seek to rewrite history by glamourising mass murders whilst peddling the fear of the ‘Muslim invaders’. What follows is a summarised account of the real, well-known history of Dracula.
Vlad Dracula was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia (modern day Romania), ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, the period of the emergent Uthmani Khilafah, the Ottoman Caliphate, and its conquest of the Balkans. His father, Vlad II Dracul, was a member of the Order of the Dragon, which was founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe and was fashioned after the military orders of the Crusades requiring initiates to defend the Cross and fight the so-called “enemies of Christianity”, in particular the Muslim Ottoman Caliphate.
There was a time, when much of what is modern Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, the Balkans, the Crimea and almost all of southern Russia was ruled by Muslims. This was once part of the Muslim heartland of Islām, the Ottomon Empire and produced many great leaders and scholars. Today of course, the only majority Muslim community found in mainland Europe is in Bosnia, Kosovo and al-Baniya, Albania.
The Christian communities in Hungary and Wallachia wanted to fight against the Ottomans, however they were very weak and there was much disunity amongst them. In 1436, Vlad II Dracul ascended to the throne in Wallacia only to be dethroned by those loyal to the King in Hungary, János Hunyadi. Vlad II sought the help of the Ottoman Muslims who in turn sought payment of the Jiz’yah, a tax which non-Muslims pay to a Muslim ruler in return for their protection from outside nations. As part of this deal, Sultan Murad II asked that Vlad II send two of his four sons to Istanbul to be educated. Vlad II agreed and so he sent his two sons and he in turn was ascended to the throne again in Wallachia by the Ottomans.
The two sons who travelled back with the Muslims to Edirne were Vlad Dracula and his younger brother, Radu. Vlad is the one who we have now come to know as Dracula because the word Dracula means ‘son of Dracul’ which was the name of his father. The word ‘Dracula’ has of course since taken on a different meaning, being synonymous with a devilish evil, and we will see why this is.
Whilst under the tutelage of the Ottoman Muslims, the boys were provided with education including that of Islamic texts. Radu became Muslim and was a close friend with the young boy of the Sultan Murad II, Muḥammad (Mehmet II). Vlad however was rebellious and is recorded to have developed a well-known hatred for Muslims even though he too studied the Qur’ān, spoke Arabic, Persian, Turkish and of course Wallachian (Romanian).
In 1447 the King of Hungary attacked Wallachia and killed Vlad Dracula and Radu’s father and brothers. Given that Vlad’s father had paid the Jiz’yah, the Muslims defended them against the Hungarians and they installed Vlad Dracula in power.
In the meantime, Radu at the age of 22 became a leading Mujāhid (one who strives in the path of Allāh) within the Ottoman court and commanded the Janissaries (the foreign contingent of the army). He was sent by his good friend Muḥammad, who by this stage had become the Sultan at the age of 19, to subdue various rebellions such as that in Anatolia. Perhaps more importantly, he participated alongside Sultan Muḥammad in the Ottomon siege which eventually led to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople was the capital city for the Roman Byzantine Empire. Napoleon was quoted as once saying, “If the Earth were a single state, Constantinople would be its capital” . As for Sultan Muḥammad, he was from here on forever to be known as Muḥammad Fātiḥ (Muḥammad the Conqueror), and his new city was from here on forever to be referred to as Islambul, meaning the “City of Islām”. It should be noted that it was only during the secularisation process of Ataturk where it took on the name of ‘Istanbul’ which has no relevant meaning. Incidentally, there are coins in the British Museum from 1730 where the name of the city, Islambul is clearly imprinted . By conquering Constantinople, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ had also fulfilled the blessed words of the Messenger of Allāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) who said concerning this event:
“Verily, Constantinople shall be conquered. Its commander shall be the best commander ever, and his army shall be the best army ever.”
With the fall of Constantinople, Pope Pius II called for crusade in 1459 against the Ottoman Muslims, at the Congress of Mantua. In this crusade, the main role was to be played by Matthias Corvinus, son of János Hunyadi, the King of Hungary. To this effect, Matthias Corvinus received from the Pope 40,000 golden coins, an amount that was thought to be enough to gather an army of 12,000 men and purchase 10 warships. In this context, Vlad Dracula allied himself with Matthias Corvinus, whose family it should be remembered killed his family, with the hope of keeping the Ottomans out of the country.
The Declaration of War
Later that year, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ sent emissaries to Vlad in Wallachia to urge him to pay a delayed jiz’yah which Vlad Dracula had put off paying. Unknown to the Ottomans, Vlad Dracula had already allied himself with the Hungarians and joined the Pope’s call for a Crusade against them. Vlad Dracula met with the emissaries and said to them, “If you want to step inside of my port, you have to take off your turban and bow.” The Muslims responded that they would not remove their turban and “we only bow to Allāh”. So Vlad once again demanded, “Take it off” and again they refused. Vlad Dracula then told someone to come with some very big nails and hammers and he said, “If they refuse to remove it for me then they will never remove it again.” And he commanded that their turbans be nailed into their heads. Of course, this resulted in them being killed – this act was a declaration of war against the Muslims which Vlad Dracula had been spoiling for.
Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ sent the Bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Pasha to eliminate Vlad Dracula. Vlad Dracula however planned an ambush. Hamza Pasha, the Bey of Nicopolis, brought with him 10,000 cavalry and when passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad Dracula launched a surprise attack. The Christians had the Muslims surrounded and defeated and almost all of them were caught and impaled, with Hamza Pasha impaled on the highest stake to show his rank. Impalement was Vlad Dracula’s preferred method of torture and execution and it was this which makes him stand out in being remembered as absolutely evil and barbaric. Impalement is the penetration of an organism by an object such as a stake, pole, spear or hook, by complete (or partial) perforation of the body, often the central body mass. What they would do is get a very long stick, make sharp one end and insert it through a person’s back passage, driving it through their body until it came out of their mouth. Often, the victims would be alive and this is how they would be killed. Then they would put this stick into the ground and impale others, putting them next to each other.
In the winter of 1462, Vlad Dracula crossed the Danube and devastated the entire Bulgarian land in the area between Serbia and the Black Sea. Disguising himself as Turkish, utilising the fluent Turkish he had learned whilst under the care of the Muslims, he infiltrated and destroyed Ottoman camps. In a letter to Corvinus of Hungary, he wrote:
“I have killed peasant men and women, old and young… We killed 23,884 Turks (Muslims) without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers… Thus, your highness, you must know that I have completely broken any peace with him (Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ).”
Vlad Dracula’s attack was celebrated by the then western Christendom; the Saxon cities of Transylvania, the Italian states and the Pope. A Venetian envoy, upon hearing about the news at the court of Corvinus, expressed great joy and said that the whole of Christianity should celebrate Vlad’s successful campaign. The Genoese from Caffa also thanked him.
In response to this, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in spring of 1462 headed towards Wallachia. This army was under the Sultan’s commandership and in its ranks was his friend and brave Mujāhid, Radu. Vlad Dracula was unable to stop the Ottomans from crossing the Danube on June 4, 1462 and on entering Wallachia, they found that on one of the very long roads leading to the capital of this area were 20,000 Muslims impaled along the sides of these roads. Imagine this, we suffer today no doubt but incidents of such brute are very rare indeed. You can imagine how Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ felt to see even one Muslim killed which was too much to bare, but to mutilate their bodies after this was something, which was beyond acceptable.
Vlad Dracula constantly organised small attacks and ambushes on the Muslims and adopted what we would call today ‘Guerrilla warfare’. Pausing for a moment and thinking of the current state of the Muslim world, it is clear that it is now the Muslims who usually adopt guerrilla tactics in view of their weakness and inferior military might whereas Muslims were in the time of Muḥammad Fātiḥ, the superpower of the day.
The End Game
After some time, Radu, who remained faithful to Islām and the Sultan and spent his entire life on the frontlines of Jihād and battle in protection of the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, was charged with the responsibility of pursuing his brother and thus showing the world that in Islām, brotherhood in faith is given priority over blood relations where they have an enmity towards the faith. Vlad Dracula was running out of funds and returned to Hungary to seek help from Corvinus, who instead of helping Vlad Dracula, imprisoned him as he was seen as a liability even for the Christians. In his absence, Radu defeated the remnants of Vlad Dracula’s army and became the ruler in Wallachia and he ruled from 1463-1473 when he died at the age of 40. Meanwhile, Vlad Dracula was released from prison and he returned to Wallachia once again and retook power in 1476 with Hungarian support. He immediately assembled an army and invaded Bosnia, slaughtering its Muslim population and impaling 8,000 on stakes in a forest of human bodies. Vlad Dracula had arisen from the darkness with the objective of eliminating Islām from the Balkans once and for all and installing Christianity. Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ invaded Wallachia and faced the forces of Vlad in Bucharest, Romania. Vlad’s army was overrun in a blitz and all were killed, including Vlad himself. His head was removed from his body and was taken back to Istanbul. They impaled his head and put it at the gates of Islambul where it stood for about 2 – 3 months to send a clear message to others. “If you want to be like this man, then dare wage war against us.”