The Ottoman Sultan and the Cannon of heaven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
It is about the mystic Sufi and the gun with the nose ring

Submitted: September 17, 2019

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Submitted: September 17, 2019



The Ottoman Sultan and the Cannon of heaven

It is about the mystic Sufi and the gun with the nose ring



"Some said it is a Cannon of heaven because it is somehow landed from the sky to help ottomans liberate us from the Persian occupation," the elderly Baghdadi told the gathering looking at the retired field gun that centered Al-Medan square in the capital Baghdad.

"When was that?" somebody asked

"That was a long time ago, in 1638 after 15 years of Baghdad being devastated by the Persian occupation", the elderly replied.

"But some say that the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV brought it with him from Istanbul," another man commented.

Murad IV ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1623 to 1640 whose strict and severe rule put an end to rebelliousness. He commanded the continuing war against Persia and re-gained lost territories. Among these was Baghdad.

"What is the story of the Iron ring attached to the Cannon?" another watcher asked

"You mean the one like the nose ring?"

"Exactly," the man confirmed.

"The Ottomans called it burun halkas?. It is used to attach the Cannon carriage to the limber", the elderly replied.

A limber is two-wheeled cart support the trail of a Cannon that enables its towing. Horses were harnessed in pairs on either side of the limber pole. The trail is the hinder end of the stock of a gun-carriage, which rests or slides on the ground when the carriage is in rest.

Interestingly, Farmers fix a metal nose ring through the nasal septum of domestic animals to control and direct them. In such farm animals, nose rings are pierced through the rim of the nose to assist the handler in controlling the powerful, aggressive or unpredictable animals like Bulls. The ring exerts stress on the usually sensitive nose. Historically, the use of nose rings for controlling animals is known as an ancient practice in Mesopotamia.  The Sumerians used them on Cattle and Horses as illustrated on the archeological artifacts.

Ironically, some women, especially in the countrysides of the East, used to wear gold nose rings as decorating cosmetics before the trend gradually subsided. Decorating the nose may be unconsciously based on the belief of the sixth sense, which is supposed to be the brainwave focus, located just above the end of the nose. However, nose ring trend reappeared among Metropolitan youth in the West. 

Baghdad inhabitants called the Ottoman Top ile burun halkas as Top Abo Khazzama (Top means Cannon whereas Khazzama means nose ring). The public was impressed with the role of the big gun and bestowed holiness upon it. They used to visit it in its first citadel location for a blessing and tie small pieces of green or colored cloths on its shaft or on the iron chain surrounding its base (so that it won't escape!). They also dedicated Henna (Lawsonia) to stain portion of the gun and light candles on Friday eves.

The old mothers in Baghdad thought that the Sant Top (Cannon) could reveal secrets, cures some illnesses, open gates and bring miracles the way it did with liberating their city from the Persians. What made such practices inherited and sustained over centuries is the association of Top Abo Khazzama with legends and supernatural stories. In passing such certainty, these mothers were continuously modifying the topic's idea in their flashbacks and nostalgia.


In 1508, the founder of the Persian Safavid dynasty Ismail Shah (reigned 1501–1524), invaded Baghdad, ending the rule of the Aq Qoyunlu dynasty (White Sheep Turkomans).  The Shah then began Sectarian Cleansing, killing clerics and destroying Sunni sites in Baghdad, including tombs of the Abbasid Caliphs, tombs and shrines of Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Gelani and Abo Hanifa Al-Numan. 

Sheikh AbdulQader (1078-1166) is widely known as Albaz Al-Ashhab. This epithet means the Grey Falcon, which always does the bidding of its master, without question, and returns directly to his hand. This bird symbolizes the faithful servant of God. The Sheikh was great preacher, mystic, theologian, and founder of Al-Qaderya Sufi order. He lived in Baghdad where he founded a school of thought. When he died, his followers entombed him in a shrine within his School on the east bank of the Tigris River.

Al-Imam Al-Adham (The Great Imam) Abo Hanifa Al-Numan Ibn Thabit (699-767) was a theologian, Jurist, and founder of the Hanafi School of Sunni jurisprudence, which has remained the most practiced Muslim's law discipline. His most prominent Mosque in Baghdad was built in 986 beside his tomb in Al-Adhamyah district in Baghdad, which is named after his reverential epithet Al-Imam Al-Adham.  In 1067, Abo Saad Al-Khwarizmi (Al-Mustawfi), the Grand Vizier of the Seljuk Empire, built a shrine in the mosque with a white dome and a school named the Great Imam School. This was probably the first teaching institution in Baghdad, long before the famous Al-Mustansrya School founded by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustanser in 1233.

In any case, the Ottomans solidified their control of the region, incorporating it into their empire in 1534. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (also known as Al-Kanuni which means the Lawgiver for his reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system) seized Baghdad from the Persian Safavids. The Sultan repaired Abo Hanifa mosque and had a dome built over Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Gelani shrine before he returned to his capital Constantinople (Istanbul), leaving a strong garrison force in Baghdad.

As nothing is consistent but change whether unexpected or planned, within a century, the Persians were back. In 1623, the Safavid Shah Abbass pretended to be making a pilgrimage to the holy shrines of Kerbala and Najaf but used his army to re-capture Baghdad.Betrayal is not uncommon even within the ruling dynasty. Shah Abbass, for example, became suspicious of his sons and had them killed or blinded.

Shah Abbass and his successor Sam Mirza (Shah Safi), were ruthless so as their appointed Baghdad' ruler Baktash Khan.  He drained the city from its wealth and did what his ancestors and masters did; demolished Baghdad' sacred shrines especially those of Abo Hanifa Al-Numan and Sheikh AbdulQader Al-Gelani.


The Ottoman Sultan Murad IV personally commanded his army to re-capture Baghdad from the Persians. However, he couldn’t break through the thick wall of the city and had to lay tight blockade by surrounding it to force the Persian army to give up control of the place.

During the 40 days siege, spiritual events maneuvered the heart and mind of Captain Kinj Osman while seeing his Sultan frustrated of being unable to take the city.

In the first night dream of successive ones, the captain dreamed of seeing the holy Sheik AbdulQader Al-Gelani asking him why he had a broken heart. Captain Kinj Osman told him that was because their campaign was about to fail. He was sad because of the unhappiness of his Sultan. The Sheikh advised him to make a big gun.

When he woke up in the morning, he ran to Sultan Murad with a cry of joy and satisfaction and said:

"Sultanim, I found it. We need a Cannon, a big Iron one". It was like the "Eureka" of Archimedes who coined the term. Archimedes of Syracuse (288-212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.  He jumped out of the tub and ran naked through the town, yelling "Eureka, Eureka" when he figured out the water displacement phenomena in Physics.  

"From where we get the Iron Kinj Osman?" the Sultan wasn’t excited like his Captain.

In his second night' dream, the young Captain saw the holy Sheikh again and asked him for a solution. The Sheik suggested using the horseshoes and the chains to obtain the needed iron. He told him how to melt them.

That was an interesting suggestion since horseshoe traditionally symbolizes protection, wards off evil, and brings good luck.

When the Captain told his Sultan about his dream, he replied, "We do not know how to make such a big gun," he was worried for not being able to enter Baghdad.

In the third night' dream of Kinj Osman, the holy Sheikh taught him how to make the gun. He sketched a design for a giant Cannon 4.5 m length X 2 m width at the back on two wheels and asked the Captain to memorize it when he wakes up for the dawn prayers.  

When he woke up, the Captain drew an installation manual as described in his dream and showed it to Sultan Murad who ordered Ali, the commander of the Royal guards to work on it and make the gifted Cannon.

The Ottoman Army faced a second challenge; shortage of the Gunpowder.  Again the holy Sheikh solved it. He instructed Captain Kinj Osman in the next dream to use sand and rocks instead of the chemical explosives.

There is some logic in this suggestion since the Black powder consists of a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, and these are some elements of the earth.

That idea worked. The Cannon engulfed the sand and stones and fired at the wall of Baghdad. However, it needed guidance to precisely hit a specific target and increase effect upon the gates of the city wall.

Such difficulty shaped the last request for help in the sequence of the Captain 'dreams. As in every previous vision, Albaz Al-Ashhab Sheikh AbdulQader had the answer. He told the Captain that he would fly and appear as big grey falcon on the dome of his mosque (Al-Gelani mosque and his burial place) where the Ottoman Army may spot him and aimed the Cannon at that course, with a shorter range of course.

The direction was accurate. The Cannon aimed at the direction of Albaz Al-Ashhab and could demolish substantial part of the wall and its gate, through which the Ottoman Army stormed the city.


Some said that the small concavity (38x3cm depth) on the back of the Cannon is caused by the Sultan's fist when it stopped moving, which made Sultan Murad angry and punched the stubborn gun.

That cuff troubled the Cannon and, in protest, threw itself into the Tigris River. The Sultan regretted offending the big gun and jumped with Commander Ali into the river, pulling it from its nose ring before it sank and thus rescued it, not without some persuasion. Top Abo Khazzama forgave the Sultan and resumed its action whereas the Sultan ordered to spread grains on the path so that the Cannon can slides on smoothly.

However, when it floated on the water and reached the bank of the river, nine fishes were trapped in its bore. Amazingly, there is a breed of fish (Barbus subquincunciatus)  living in the Rivers Tigris, Euphrates, Shat Al-Arab and Diala River. It is locally called Abo khazzama (or Ajzan Fish).

In any case, Commander Ali was optimistic that fishes are good signs. In the public collective unconsciousness, fish is representing the consumption, endurance, and flow of abundance. No wonder the pictures of nine fishes were engraved on the Cannon. What's more, Ali carved the fishes as inclusive evidence that the big gun tried to commit suicide by sinking itself in the Tigris River to preserve its dignity! 

Among the best spiritual numbers of mythological tales are number 9. In numerology, number 9 represents endings and a time of clearing out the old so the new can emerge.  As well, nine is the highest of all the single-digit numbers.

In addition to his name and the nine fishes he carved, Commander Ali also imprinted stars on the margins of the Cannon. For this reason, our olden mothers believed that the holy gun was sent through the sky to liberate their city and that an Angel led it from its Khazzama, which caused the small crack on that spot.

The Angel must have pulled the gun with some strength to direct it, and the stars may have noticed the Angel using excessive force in directing the gun through the sky.


During the attack to expel the Persians from Baghdad, Sultan Murad was leading the Army assisted by his Grand Vizier Taiar Mohamed Pasha, but a Persian bomb killed the top aid of the Sultan. The saddened Sultan Murad appointed Mustafa Pasha as Grand Vizier shortly before they overran the city with the help of Top Abo Khazzama.

By the end of January 1638, Baghdad was liberated by Sultan Murad after kicking the Persians out. The Sultan's Army stabilized the situation and retained law and order. He appointed a Commander of the installed Ottoman garrison and left for him the mighty Cannon and the captured Persian artilleries to protect the city.

The Sultan departed Baghdad via the eastern Bab (gate) Al-Talsem on 17 February and set back to his capital in about six months march.


Check out Ali Al-Zaak's Book

The Ottoman Sultan and the Cannon of heaven

Following the invasion called "Operation Freedom" he was abducted from his molecular world and illegally detained in an occupation military camp until his captors realized their mistake. This book is about two lives, wars, lies and the fantasies of the We

© Copyright 2020 Ali Al-Zaak. All rights reserved.

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