Hagia Sophia reopened the Grand mosque of Turkey in 86 years with first prayers
The historic Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque of Turkey reopened for worship on Friday for the first time in 86 years with four muezzins from the four minarets of the mosque reciting the adhan, or calling to prayer, and people praying their Friday prayer. Muslim prayers were conducted for the first time in 86 years in the historic Hagia Sophia, after the Istanbul landmark ,Grand mosque of turkey was transformed into a mosque earlier this month.
Friday prayers Promulgation
The Friday prayers took place two weeks after the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversially declared the nearly 1,500-year-old shrine open to Muslim worship after the conversion of the building into a museum by the founding statesman of modern Turkey in the mid-1930s was ruled illegal by a top court.
Hagia Sophia &Culture legacy
“The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque is a cultural legacy for all of humanity. It was a mosque and was converted back into a mosque, “the president said after the prayers.” Around 350,000 people attended the prayer across Hagia Sophia on Friday. The president added that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will carry out renovation work inside and outside the mosque.
Hagia Sophia &UNESCO World Heritage Site
The reopening began with the prayer program organized by Diyanet, which included guests from all sectors of society. Prior to the inaugural prayers, the president recited verses of the Quran inside the nearly 1,500-year-old monument. During the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as a cathedral in 537 but converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It was declared a museum under the founder of modern republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in a crucial reform of the post-Ottoman authorities.
Day of honor and modesty
Erbaş performed the first Friday prayer with a sword in his hand, reading a special khutbah or sermon, entitled “Hagia Sophia: Sign of Conquest, Our Confidence in Fatih (Sultan Mehmet),” before the prayer. “The longing that caused deep pain in our people’s hearts has come to an end,” Erbaş said, adding that the memorial will be open to people of all backgrounds as are other mosques. “This is the day when takbirs (Allahu akbar), prayers and salavages (healing the prophet of Islam) echo in the domes of Hagia Sophia, and the adhan (call for prayer) rises from his minarets,” said Erbaş. “This is the day that the faithful rise up with tears of joy in thanks, bend down in surrender, and prostrate happily. It is the day of honor and modesty”
New entrants were restricted due to COVID-19
Crowds formed at checkpoints surrounding the historic heart of Istanbul where thousands of police maintained security. Upon entering the secured area, the worshippers, wearing face masks, sat spaced out on prayer mats on Sultanahmet Square in the city.After the first official prayers, Erdoğan and Chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party ( MHP) Devlet Bahçeli visited the tomb of Istanbul’s conqueror Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II as a large crowd entered the Hagia Sophia. Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya declared near midday that all the prayer areas around the mosque are filled and that they would not allow new entrants to the city due to the coronavirus epidemic.
“Today we are ending our 86 years of longing,” said one of the devotees, Sait Çolak, referring to the nearly nine decades since Hagia Sophia was declared a museum and ceased to be a place of worship. “Thanks to our president and to today’s court decision we will have our Friday prayers in Hagia Sophia. The famous monument served as a church for 916 years until the fall of Istanbul. From 1453 to 1934 it served as a mosque-almost 500 years-and most recently as a museum for 86 years. One of Turkey’s most-visited historic buildings by domestic and foreign visitors, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985, during her time as a museum.
In new epoch for Hagia Sophia
A Turkish court on July 10 annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum, opening the way for her use as a mosque once again after an 86-year hiatus. In the new period for Hagia Sophia, the Religious Affairs (Diyanet) presidency of Turkey will oversee worship services at the mosque, while the Ministry of Culture and Tourism will oversee the work of restoration and conservation.