In Istanbul, stands Turkey’s most popular tourist site, the Hagia Sophia.
The original Hagia Sophia was build in approximately 300 AD by Roman Emperor Justinian to commemorate his conquest of Constantinople. Wikipedia says this was the first construction to use a fully pendentive dome.
The building was dedicated as a christian church and twice rebuilt. In 1453, when the Ottomans regained control of Constantinople and changed the name to Istanbul, the Church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was converted to a mosque, the Mosque of Ayasofya. What will the future bring for this structure?
In 1938, Attaturk declared the Hagia Sophia a national museum. In 2009, I wandered this grand museum. Mosaics of saints are visible in places where the Islamic overlay was carefully stripped. One scene remains vivid in my mind—that of an angel aside Islamic writing.
Of note to me at the time: The Mujahdeen calls the faithful to prayer at the local mosques and the Iman leads the prayer in the mosques; both are government workers. Not even Attaturk could secularize everything!
In 2020, there is talk of reversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque! Sometimes it feels like open season on secularism.
“The president of Turkey on Friday formally converted Istanbul’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and declared it open for Muslim worship, hours after a high court annulled a 1934 decision that had made the religious landmark a museum.”—Bloomberg Quick Take News, July 10, 2020
Pope Francis stood in silence for several minutes at his weekly Angelus prayer Sunday, after he talked about Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. ‘The sea takes my thought a bit far, to Istanbul,’ the pontiff said during the prayer, which commemorated people who work at sea…I think of Hagia Sophia, and I am very saddened.”—CNN.com, July 12, 2020
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