The Hagia Sophia was turned into a Masjid by Muhammad al-Fateh after he conquered Constantinople, and renamed it ‘Islambool’, which is now known as Istanbul. After the Khilafah was destroyed and abolished in 1924 by Mustapha Kemal and his entourage, he converted it into a Museum in 1936 and appeased his lords and masters, the European Colonialists.
Recep Tayyib Erdogan has earned accolades by re-converting it into a Masjid and said it was something he wished to do all along. Erdogan and his party came to power in Turkey by exploiting the prevalent Islamic sentiment in Turkey and because the Kemalists were open secular liberalists it worked. This proves despite the claim that Muslims of the country are very secular, Islam still resides strongly in their hearts as they yearn for its presence through these gestures. This is well understood by Erdogan and his ilk; therefore, he takes advantage of it to suit his narrow political goals.
Erdgoan’s polling rate was drastically dropping and he needed to do something popular to regain public confidence and support. The restoration of the Hagia Sophia to the glory Islam brought to it was that move, and it proved to be a huge one and a major success in his popularity campaign. However, some Muslims praised it and some are skeptical. While others are confused to support or oppose.
The reality of the matter can be understood through these points:
1. Hagia Sophia was only made a Masjid by the conquer of the land. Without this conquer, it would not have ever happened.
2. This shows the importance of having an Islamic State (the Khilafah), because only by its existence can Jihad and expansion of the rule of Islam achieved, which will bring such glories to the Ummah.
3. There is nothing wrong in feeling joy by the conversion from a museum to a mosque but one must not be swayed by the treacherous plot behind it – literally a vote-grabbing exercise.
4. What we take away from this is that Muslims are still attached to Islamic heritage that a Turkish Magazine called for the restoration of the Caliphate afterwards1.
5. Immediately afterwards, a spokesman from the AKP quickly came out and re-emphasized the party’s commitment to secularism!
6. Clearly, it was not Islam Erdogan wanted to dignify because Islam’s true dignity and honor was established by the Aqeedah and implementation of the rules (Ahkaam) that emanated from it.
Many points could be added but these are quite enough.
Moreover, the fact that Muslims rejoiced and demanded for the building to be turned to its former glory indicates the resurging love and commitment to Islam and how ready Muslims are to live under an Islamic State – besides, they were never ‘unready’.
The conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a Mosque has sparked discussion in the media and social platforms as to whether it was the right move. However, what Muslims must focus on is the cause(s) behind the move. Upon closer inspection Erdogan was after regaining his popularity because he was losing it to the part of Ahmed Davutoglu. In addition, the support and praise by Muslims indicates their readiness and love for the just and perfect system of Islam.
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