Hagia Sophia mosque raising interest of Bangladeshis to visit Türkiye

Hagia Sophia mosque raising interest of Bangladeshis to visit Türkiye

Iconic monument was restored to its former glory as Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque on July 24, 2020

News Service AA

The desire of Bangladeshis to travel to Türkiye has risen drastically after Istanbul's iconic monument Hagia Sophia was restored as a mosque, analysts and visitors said on the second anniversary of its reopening.

“The Muslims of sub-continent have loved Türkiye for long, and during the fall of the Ottoman Empire, in early 20th century, they started the Khilafat movement (Caliphate movement) in its support. Hagia Sophia reminds us of the inspirational history of conquering Constantinople (Istanbul) by Sultan Mehmet II,” Abdullah Al Mahmud, professor of world religion and culture at Dhaka University, told Anadolu Agency.

He said the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia has always attracted a huge number of tourists from all over the world.

“We, the Muslims, in the South Asian belt, have been dreaming to see Hagia Sophia as a mosque since it was converted into a museum in 1934. As our dream has been fulfilled, we are now interested in offering prayers in this mosque,” said Mahmud.

On July 10, 2020, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque.

The monument was restored to its former glory as the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque on July 24, 2020, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joining hundreds of worshipers for the first Muslim prayer in 86 years inside Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years and 86 years as a museum. However, it was a mosque from 1453 to 1934, nearly 500 years.

In 1985, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, and is among Türkiye’s top tourist destinations.

“Many university teachers and students frequently consult with me on how to get Turkish visas as they know that I have visited the country several times. Almost all of them are mainly interested in visiting Hagia Sophia,” added the professor.

- One of the best countries to visit

Young Bangladeshi entrepreneur Faruk-e-Azam, who visited Türkiye and Hagia Sophia recently, said Istanbul is one of the best cities to visit.

“I got a different feeling when I saw Hagia Sophia and offered salat (prayer) there ... I could imagine the historic victory of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Mohammad Rakibul Islam, a university student, told the Turkish leading news agency that he has not visited any country, but has dreamed of a trip to Türkiye.

“I have a dream to visit two countries. Firstly, Saudi Arabia to visit our holiest site the Kaaba in Mecca, and the graveyard of our Prophet Muhammad in Medina. I also wish to visit Istanbul and offer salat inside the Hagia Sophia mosque,” said Islam.

- Symbol of boldness

Abul Hossain Asad, noted Bangladeshi cyclist and television anchor, who has visited 45 countries and is currently living in Portugal, told Anadolu Agency that his visit to Türkiye was different from other tours.

“Türkiye is a symbol of boldness and Hagia Sophia reminds me that Muslims have a responsibility to establish justice everywhere, and should not fear any tyrannical force,” he said.

He recalled that while Muslims in different parts of the world were oppressed and their achievements were being destroyed by Mongol forces, remote Turkish Kayi tribe incredibly stood against them.

“Thus, through enormous struggle, the Ottoman Empire established rule of law and justice across the world and this is the golden history of Muslims that all of us should know,” said Asad.

“Not only Hagia Sophia but there are historical sites throughout Türkiye ... I have a plan to visit this country many times and also write a book,” he added.


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