Hagia Sophia’s mosque conversion is not a reckoning of the past, a settling of scores today. It is reviving values that will benefit the present and all of humanity, that will shed a positive light on the situation.
“Hagia Sophia’s resurrection is a sign that we something new to say to the world as the Turkish nation, as Muslims, and all of humanity.”
It is probably possible to say the same for the conquest – or even conquests – of Mecca and Jerusalem as well, because Jerusalem was conquered twice in history by Muslims. The same path, same principles and values were adopted in both conquests. Thus, the same Jerusalem experienced a perfect atmosphere in which human rights and freedom of worship regardless of religion were respected, and peaceful coexistence under Muslim administration reigned for centuries. Yet, as a result of the Crusader and Jewish occupation it faced, it became a stage for chaos, conflict, the enslavement of humanity, and diversity became a subject of animosity.
During the almost one century which it was under Crusader occupation, Jerusalem witnessed a ruthless, bloody bigotry; even Christians, apart from the Franks, were given no right to live. Everybody was slayed by the sword and their places of worship were closed down.
In the Muslim order reinstituted in Jerusalem following its re-conquest by Salahuddin Ayyoubi, Muslims, as well as Jews and all Christian sects, lived safely and freely in peace for another seven centuries. When this order was transferred to Jerusalem’s Ottoman administration, it maintained the same just system, because the Ottoman Empire also upheld the same spirit and principles regarding this matter.
Now, look at the state of Jerusalem under Israeli occupation today. It consists of a sanctity that is being tried to be monopolized by the Jews alone; an occupying, arrogant, racist, mass-murdering bigotry that affords no rights, shows no respect and offers no chance of existence to other humans. In fact, this is all happening under the supervision of today’s modern world.
The new world order that was established with the conquest of Istanbul is simply a repetition of the model presented with the conquest of Jerusalem. They are the one and the same. Mehmed the Conqueror did not implement a self-professed model. The model he implemented in Istanbul is the same model implemented throughout history based on Islam.
He starts saying, “I am the Great Sultan and Grand Emir, Sultan Mehmed Han,
son of the Grand Emir, Sultan Murad. I promise in the name of He Who created the earth and the heavens, in the name of our great Prophet Muhammad, in the name of Saba’ al-Mathani [the seven oft-repeated verses in the Quran], in the name of God’s 24,000 prophets, on my grandfather’s and father’s soul, in the name of our sons, on the love of the sword I have girded,” and vows to all of Istanbul’s non-Muslims:
“Nobody will hinder worship in churches here. The people in question shall visit these places without any problem and pray in their churches with ease. Nobody shall make such a mistake as to cause them trouble. Even those who have fled may come and settle in my country. Nobody shall interfere with them. The viziers, the nationals, the people in this country under my protection shall neither say anything bad to nor mistreat these people. This includes myself as well. I take oath on the Quran, and God, and all the prophets that have set foot on the earth, that as long as these people abide by my provisions, I will fully stand behind these words. My promises will be fulfilled.”
Another important aspect of these pledges is that they were not empty promises and were successfully implemented for centuries.
It is a great injustice to remember Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, who discovered Hagia Sophia in ruins and repaired and restored its status as a place of worship in accordance with the purpose and spirit for which it was built, as just someone who converted a church into a mosque. It needs to be reiterated that Christians experienced the peace and security they lacked in their own territory for centuries under these pledges.
Islam is the sole religion and worldview that has been able to ensure peaceful coexistence with other religions even in its future vision. In the Holy Quran, Jews and Christians or members of other faiths are not depicted as groups that will one day be entirely wiped out, leaving the whole stage to Muslims. On the contrary, they are depicted as people who will always be present in Muslims’ world and afforded their due rights.
Yet, considering Evangelist and Zionist interpretations, there is a vision of the future where everyone, apart from themselves, will be eradicated. There is, after all, an Evangelist vision of a Messiah, with only Christians in the picture. Their service to Israel today is not out of their love for Jews, but because of their faith in a scenario, which will end with the elimination of Jews as well. They will be the last ones standing.
Zionist Jews, on the other hand, are acting based on a vision of the future which they will eventually become sovereign, while everyone else will become slaves without any rights. Their human rights practices on the lands they occupy today are there for the whole world to see. They are wreaking revenge on the Palestinians, who never harmed them in any way, because of the genocide they encountered in Europe.
Israel’s routine practices today are racial discrimination and bigotry that leaves no room for Muslims and Christians. As a matter of fact, it bases all these practices on the interpretation of its religious texts.
Meanwhile, with the Hagia Sophia decision, Muslims are reminding the world of a model of religious and ethnic freedom, diversity, multiculturalism, which has been proven to be successful for centuries.
Hagia Sophia represents not a view and policy in which Christians are excluded and ostracized but in which it is reiterated that Christians and Muslims come from the same origin, and that they are protected and embraced with the deepest tolerance.
Those who do not want to see Hagia Sophia as a mosque are expressing their anti-Muslim sentiment. Yet, Muslims preserved Hagia Sophia as a sign of protecting Christians with mercy and compassion, and as a sign of saying that there is a continuity between Christianity and Islam.
Hagia Sophia has reclaimed its true status as a place of worship where God’s name is remembered, where prayers are offered to Him.