Recently, after the announcement of the momentous decision of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the historic monument Hagia Sophia, it has been a hot topic of discussion. Before going into the details of this announcement, let me first explain the historical background of this monument.

Hagia Sophia was established about 1500 years ago by Byzantine emperor Justinian in the city of Constantinople (presently known as Istanbul) in the year 537. At that time, it was the world’s largest church with its vast dome.

In the 13th century, Crusaders conquered the city, and Hagia Sophia was transformed into a Catholic Cathedral. For centuries, Istanbul (Constantinople) remained unconquerable due to its undefeatable and robust defense system.

In 1453, the Ottoman emperor Sultan Mehmed ll (also known as Sultan Muhammad Fetih) conquered the city. After the victory, he offered Friday’s prayers in Hagia Sophia, which was then transformed into a mosque. It is said that the Sultan purchased this place from the Christian, the manuscripts of which are still preserved in the museum.

In 1934, Ataturk Mustafa Kamal Pasha, the founder of modern Turkey, declared it as a museum under the control of UNESCO heritage safety. Since then, it has been a place attracting about 3.7 million visitors each year. But still, the building contained a mosque portion where the visitors could offer their prayers solely, but no regular prayers.

The Turkish president has recently said that Hagia Sophia will be converted back into a mosque. Defending his decision, he said that they had exercised their sovereign right. He also added that the building would remain open beside the prayers time for all the visitors, either Muslims or non-Muslims.

The building has been given in hold of religious authorities. It was also said that the Christian icon of the building would be remained preserved. The Christian images of the building will be remained covered with curtains during prayer times. Some experts also comment that Erdogan is moving the country more towards religion than secularism. It is announced that the first Muslims’ prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on the 24th of July.

Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic leader, addressing to people at a service in the Vatican, said,

“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia, and I am anxious,”.

This statement by Pope shows how deeply he is hurt at the decision. This also shows the reaction of the entire Christians of the world. At the same time, when the Jews and the Muslims are already in the war in Palestine for Jerusalem, Hagia Sophia can be a cause of conflict between the Muslims and the Christians in Turkey.

This decision of Turkey will undoubtedly leave its substantial effects on the minds of both Muslim and Christian nations of the world. The critics also said that this decision might be politically beneficial for him as it can prove to help attain more votes from the Muslim community in the next presidential elections.

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