Analysis, Middle East, Side Feature

Hagia Sophia’s Return to a Mosque

is a Sign of Historical Changes in the Islamic World

Thousands of Muslims participated in Friday prayer at the ancient Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for the first time in 86 years. In early July, the Turkish authorities again turned the 6th century building, which had been a museum since 1934, into a mosque.


Undoubtedly, the entire Islamic Ummah rejoices at the return of Hagia Sophia to the status of the mosque.The ban on holding Friday and collective prayers in this mosque has been in effect for all the previous 86 years.

Some commentators aptly noted that Erdogan’s decision to change Hagia Sophia’s status to a mosque after 18 years of dominance in Turkish politics is an attempt to regain influence over the Turkish voter.

In 2019 with his victory in the Istanbul mayor elections, E. Imamoglu, from Republican People’s Party that was founded by Ataturk struck a blow to President R.T. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party whose positions seemed unshakeable.

It is first time since the past 17 years being in power when Erdogan’s party was defeated in Istanbul’s major elections. Furthermore, during local elections that were held on April 31 2019, Erdogan’s party lost major seats in two other biggest cities – Ankara and Izmir. In that days everyone mentioned the following words of Erdogan that he said being Istanbul’s mayor: “The one who possesses Istanbul, possesses the whole of Turkey.” “Whoever owns Istanbul owns Turkey.”

Undoubtedly, the decree signed by Erdogan on July 10, 2020 on the return of the status of the mosque to Hagia Sophia will have a positive impact on the rating of Erdogan and his party among Turkish Muslims. However, here it is necessary to pay attention not so much to the details of Turkish domestic policy, but to a more important aspect of this event. The return of Friday and collective prayers to the Hagia Sophia Mosque is a consequence of the Islamic upsurge in the Islamic Ummah. In particular, the current position of Muslims in Turkey, their desire to return to Islam and its values is the main trend in the politics of modern Turkey.

And in this sense, the coming to power in Muslim countries of secular at the core, but Islamic in the external manifestations of political forces, is a consequence and side effect of this irreversible process in the Islamic Ummah. The titanic efforts that the Western colonial powers made to turn Muslims away from Islam were in vain.

Throughout the decades of the absence of Sharia rule in the Islamic world over Muslims, the ideas of Arab and Turkish nationalism, pan-Arabism, Ba’athism, Nasserism, Communism, Socialism, secularism and democracy were implemented through fire and sword.

Nevertheless, despite all the efforts of the European colonialists, what is happening in the Islamic world is coming to its logical conclusion, namely to the triumphant victory of Islam, a sign of which is the end of the era of such rulers as Abdel Nasser, who mocked the Sharia dress of Muslim women and poisoned Muslims with the ideas of Arab nationalism. Today is the era of the so-called Moderate Islamists without Islam, who continue to embody secularism, practice certain Islamic elements, with the aim of misleading Muslims.

Even Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew Muhammad Mursi, is forced to go to the Hajj in order to enlist the support of the Muslims of Egypt. True, he could not hide his ignorance, and appealed to Allah not with his face to the Kaaba, but with his back, as if the Kaaba was a tourist attraction against which a selfie should be taken.

Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَسَيُنْفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ “Indeed, disbelievers spend their property in order to lead others astray from Allah’s path. They will spend it, and then they will regret it, and then they will be defeated. The disbelievers will be gathered in Gehenna.” [8:36]

The time is near for the elimination of dictators in the lands of Muslims, and the time when Muslims will regain their right to live in accordance with Islam, their ideological and historical wealth. This will be the reason for the return to the Islamic Ummah of its former greatness, economic and scientific development, which will allow it to once again become a beacon of justice and development in the global swamp of man-made systems.


Fazil Amzaev

Head of the Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir in Ukraine