Hagia Sophia of Turkey has been one of the largest churches in the world. It was built in the sixth century by the dictates of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Now it is going to be decided whether it should be converted into a mosque or not.
It comes on the UNESCO World Heritage List of UN cultural affairs. It was converted into a mosque in 1453 when the Sultanate of Osmania took over the city. This Greek-style church built in Istanbul is considered a unique piece of architecture that has left its mark on the design of large buildings around the world.
It was made a museum in the 1930s, the matter is now in the court as to whether it should be rebuilt a mosque or not.
Turkish President Erdoan has made this building an issue in his election campaign and he has also promised to convert it into a mosque with the Muslim majority population of Turkey.
Turkey’s Islamist political parties have long been demanding to build it a mosque, while secular parties have been opposing the construction of the old church as a mosque. There have also been international reactions on this matter, which are divided on religious and secular grounds.
Greece has opposed this decision and said that this church is the center of faith for millions of people who believe in Orthodox Christianity. Greece’s Minister of Cultural Affairs has called it ‘the politics of political gain by inciting religious sentiments’.
The UNESCO Deputy Chief has said in an interview to the Greek newspaper that the decision of the future of this church should be on a large scale in which the international fraternity should also be heard. This representative of the United Nations says that a letter was written to Turkey about this but he did not give any reply.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the change in the condition of this building will not be right because ‘it has been acting as a bridge between different religious beliefs’.
What is history?
The historic domed edifice is on the western side of the Basphorus River in Istanbul, Basphorus is the river that borders Asia and Europe, Asia towards the east of this river and Europe to the west.
Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of a grand church in 532, in those days Istanbul was known as Constantinople or Kastuntunia, it was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, also known as the Roman Empire of the East.
Construction materials and engineers were employed from far and wide to build this magnificent building. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.
This church was completed in five years and was completed in 537, it became an important center for those who believed in Orthodox Christianity, it also became a symbol of the strength of the Byzantine Empire, important ceremonies like coronation continued in this church.
Hagia Sophia, which means ‘holy conscience’, has been the headquarters of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 900 years.
But the dispute over it is not only among Muslims and Christians, it was severely destroyed by European Christian attackers in the 13th century and made it to the Catholic Church for some time.
In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire, who followed Islam, took over Kastuntunia, changed its name to Istanbul, thus ending the Byzantine Empire forever.
Sultan Mehmed ordered that the Hagia Sophia be repaired and converted into a mosque. In this, the Sultan himself joined the prayer of the first Jume. The Ottoman Empire is also known as Sultanate-e-Osmania.
Islamic architects broke most of the marks of Ishayat or put a layer of plaster over them. Earlier it was just a dome building but six Islamic style minarets were also erected outside it.
Hagia Sophia is said to be the inspiration for the design of many famous buildings of the world including the famous Blue Mosque of Turkey built in the 17th century.
The Ottoman Empire suffered a severe defeat in the First World War, the empire was divided into several pieces by the conquerors. The current Turkey stands on the foundation of the same demolished Ottoman Empire.
Mustafa Kamal Pasha, called the creator of modern Turkey, declared the country secular and in this connection changed the Hagia Sophia from mosque to museum. Since it was opened to the general public in 1935, it has been one of the major tourist destinations in the world.
Because of its history of one and a half thousand years, Turkey has great importance not only for the people outside it, especially for the Christians of Greece and Muslims around the world.
There have been frequent demonstrations in Turkey against the law made in 1934 under which Hajia Sophia is prohibited from offering Namaz or any other religious event.
President Erdoan has supported these Islamic sentiments and has been calling the decision to make Hagia Sophia a museum as a historic mistake, he has been making constant efforts to make it a mosque again.