In order to get the brief description of the matter let us first look into the past and get the brief history regarding this great matter of controversy of Hagia Sophia’s reverted status of Mosque. As far as Hagia Sophia is concerned, it is a monument which is there for about 1500 years. It was built by Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 537 CE (common Era). It took couple of thousand of workers to built this monument at Constantinople (now Istanbul) in a remarkably very short time of about 6 years.
- Basically, it was a Cathedral of the Greek orthodox and it remained a cathedral for several centuries. In 1204, during the fourth crusaders, they converted the Greek orthodox cathedral into a roman catholic church in 1261. So, initially for 667 years it was a Greek orthodox cathedral then after that for 57 years from 1204 to 1261 it was the roman catholic church.
- Later on, when the christian Byzantines came to power, it was again converted back into a Greek orthodox cathedral until Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453.
- Then it was converted into a mosque. So since 537 till 1453, for more than 900 years it remained a Greek orthodox cathedral then for a few years it was the roman catholic church and again it become a Greek orthodox cathedral. It was actually the largest church in the world.
- There was the biggest in-house covering where it was built and it has the largest dome till then. It took the status of the largest church for a thousand years till 1500 until a new church was built. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed II conquered the Constantinople (now Istanbul).
- And after conquering, he purchased the Hagia Sophia out of his own wealth of which the documents of purchase are still available. And after purchasing it, he converted it into a mosque.
- It remained a mosque till 1931 until Mustafa Kamal Ata turk takes over Turkey and he declared Turkey as a secular state. Then for few years Hagia Sophia was closed and the entrance into it was restricted.
- In 1934 that he passed the verdict that the mosque should be converted into a museum. And since 1935 till 11th of july, 2020 it remained a museum. Now for these 85 long years, after Hagia Sophia was secularized, various cases were filed against the monument’s status as a museum and they appealed to revert back the monument’s status as a Mosque.
- And recently, The Council in Turkey which is the highest administrative court passed a resolution that it was illegal for Mustafa Kamal Ata Turk to convert Hagia Sophia into a museum.
- On 11th of July 2020, finally The Court of Turkey has given a verdict that it was illegal for Mustafa Kamal Ata Turk to convert Hagia Sophia into a museum and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Current president of Turkey) signed a resolution that this structure Hagia sophia will be transferred from the department of tourism to the department of Religious authority of Turkey.
Now, This has created a lot of controversy in which various countries along with various organizations like UNESCO are disagreeing with the decision taken by the Highest Administrative Court.
Muslim Leader’s Ideologies
Now looking into the history, that what were the ideologies of these Muslim rulers in occupying any territory and the basis of living of the people of looser territory.
- Earlier in those days before the war, these Muslim rulers offers the opponent to surrender. And if the opponent agrees to surrender i.e, they become Dhimmi (refers to specific individuals living in Muslim lands, who were granted special status and safety in Islamic law in return for paying the capital tax ).
- Now it becomes the duty of the ruling Emperor to protect the lives of the people, to protect their homes, their pride & prestige and protect their house of Worship.
- But this scenario exists only when there is no war and opponents surrender themselves. And if the war happened, it was a common law all over the world of every Emperor to occupy the land and utilize them as they wish.
- We find various other rulers, when they conquer the land, they occupied the mosque and many of them were demolished. The best example is Spain. There were hundreds of mosques and most of them were either converted to churches or they were converted to museums or were destroyed.
But unlike all these incidents, Sultan Mehmed II purchased the property out of his own wealth of which documents are still available and donated to consider it as a Mosque. And we also know that there are hundreds and thousands of churches in different parts of the world in western countries like U.K, Europe and America which have been purchased by the Muslim organizations and those churches are being now serving as a Mosque.
- So, if someone says that after you purchase you can’t convert it into the mosque, that means the Muslim living in the western countries will have to give up all these Mosques back to its status as the church.
- According to these Evidence and Justification, Court finally declares that what Kamal Ata Turk did was wrong, as it was purchased by the Emperor Sultan Mehmed II. As he owned it so he can use the property as he wishes. so verdict came in as Retaining Hagia Sophia’s official status to as a Mosque again.
- And the President made it clear that it would still be considered as a World Heritage site, whoever belonging to any community can visit the monument as it was permissible earlier, with slight restriction at the time of prayer.
So what are your opinions about the verdict, please do comment below.
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