For all intents and purposes Hagia Sophia will once again be a mosque during Ramadan

by omouggos

Hagia Sophia, the one time most important church in the Orthodox world. (image from teslasociety.com)

The city of Istanbul has many enticing sites to see, but one is of particular historical and religious significance and beauty, the Hagia Sophia–the Church of Holy Wisdom. The first church of that name was built in Constantinople around 360 by the Emperor Constantius, but in 404 it was destroyed by rioters. Then a decade later it was re-erected by Theodosius II, but once again it was reduced to rubble during the Nika riots of 532. With the church in a smoldering heap and the rioters pacified, the Emperor Justianian took the opportunity to rebuild a new Hagia Sophia, one of a size and magnificence never before seen.[1]

The new church was designed by the architects Anthemius and Isidore, who, with 10,000 workers at their disposal, completed the project in only 5 years. At that time Hagia Sophia was the largest church ever built and probably its most impressive feature was its immense dome measuring 107 feet in diameter and 160 feet high. So awe inspiring was the interior of this church that it is reputedly credited with helping to convert Prince Vladimir of Russia to Orthodox Christianity around 989. When Russian emissaries attended a mass held in Hagia Sophia, they afterwards reported to Vladimir that they were unsure whether they were on earth or in heaven and “all we can tell is that in that place is God’s dwelling among men.”[2]

For over a millennium Hagia Sophia was the most important church in the Orthodox world and can be considered the heart of Orthodoxy. However, in 1453 when the city of Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer it was converted into a mosque.[3] This calamitous event was nothing short of a desecration and represented the beginning of the reign of anti-Christ to many Orthodox believers.

Then in 1935 Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by Ataturk in an attempt to promote the concept of secularism in Turkey. To some orthodox the new secular status of Hagia Sophia was more tolerable and less ignominious than having it serve as a mosque, while to some Turks, those believing in secularism, there was nothing wrong with the conversion. However, there were many devout Muslim Turks to whom such an act was a disgrace to their faith. After all why would one of the greatest spoils of Islamic conquest be relinquish in the service of the taghut of secularism.

Such feelings of dissatisfaction are still present among many Turks today. For instance last year a group Muslims gathered in Istanbul in front of the Hagia Sophia, protesting and praying that it once again be converted into a mosque.[4] A little over a week ago another demonstration was held in front of the church, in which the organizer Salih Turhan demanded “to be allowed to pray inside the Hagia Sophia mosque.”[5] The crowd chanted “Let the chains break, open Hagia Sophia.” There are also reports that President Erdoğan himself is keen on having Hagia Sophia once again become a mosque.[6]

While there has been considerable Turkish sentiment yearning for the re-Islamicization of Hagia Sophia, it now appears that preliminary steps are being taken to implement this Islamist desire. Protothema has reported that for the month of Ramadan, from June 6 to July 7, “the Quran will be read in the Hagia Sophia every day, while the recitation of the Islamic texts will be broadcast live on the religious TV channel ‘TRT Diyanet’. As Turkish media report, the Quran will be recited as part of the morning prayer (sahur) and is titled ‘Hagia Sophia-Time of Blessing’.”[7] Such reports have been confirmed by a video showing an Imam chanting inside of Hagia Sophia.[8]

As is to be expected many Greeks are not too happy at this development. The main political opposition party in Greece, New Democracy, issued a statement “that this is an action that is provocative, incomprehensible and a sign of lack of respect toward Orthodox Christians throughout the world, which is not compatible with Turkey’s European course.”[9] However, for Greeks there is little that can be done to ameliorate the situation. Greece is not powerful enough to dissuade Turkey and their strong-willed ruler Erdoğan from changing their behavior and to at the least maintain Hagia Sophia as museum.

The SYRIZA Greek government also does not seem to be very perturbed by the reading of the Koran and the Islamic prayers now echoing through the vast space of the once great church. The Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Nikos Xydakis said that “It’s not that tragic, reading a religious text is not lack of respect… It would be lack of respect, in case of indecent acts.”[10] I guess the SYRIZA government is more preoccupied with implementing EU dictates and thereby ensuring that Greece is politically and economically enslaved for the foreseeable future.

While the Greek government is impuissant and indifferent, one wonders how the most powerful Orthodox nation in the world, Russia, will respond to the developments pertaining to Hagia Sophia. Even when the latter was still a museum there were Russians, such as MP Sergei Gavrilov, who wanted it to be restored as a church.[11] There have also been a report that Putin has threatened to restore Istanbul to Christian hands.[12] As such I suspect the Russians, particularly the devoutly Orthodox, will not be too pleased with Turkey’s behavior.

The next question of interest is what will be Turkey’s next step be following the end of Ramadan? Will the Hagia Sophia once again revert to the status of a museum or will the precedent be set for Islamic ceremonies to continue and even one day for it to be reconverted to a full out mosque? If the latter does in fact happen, one wonders, if such an event has any correspondence to the unfolding of end times. Walid Shoebat has been arguing that the nation of Turkey represents the beast of revelation and that it is likely that Erdoğan is the anti-Christ. If Walid’s analysis is correct than the reconversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque may indeed be a profound event and one of apocalyptic importance. So all I can recommend is to pay close attention to what is unfolding in Turkey, as it may have a rather important role to play in future events.

O Mouggos

References

[1] For an account of the early history of Hagia Sophia see pp. 198 to 204 in Byzantium: The Early Centuries by John Julius Norwich.

[2] See pp. 240-241 in Byzantium: The Apogee by John Julius Norwich

[3] see my post The Fall of Constantinople

[4] https://www.rt.com/news/263661-turkey-sophia-muslim-protest/

[5] http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/05/28/467828/Turkey-Haga-Sophia-Muslims-Istanbul-Prayers

[6] http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/70392.htm

[7] http://en.protothema.gr/hagia-sophia-a-mosque-for-30-days-during-islamic-ramadan-month/

[8] http://en.protothema.gr/video-of-islamic-chants-in-hagia-sophia/

[9] http://en.protothema.gr/new-democracy-strongly-criticizes-turkeys-plans-for-koran-readings-in-hagia-sophia/

[10] http://en.protothema.gr/koran-readings-in-hagia-sophia-but-its-not-that-tragic/

[11] http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/88209.htm

[12] see my post Will Putin reconquer Constantinople in the name of Christendom?

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