Constantinople became the emperor’s capital after they retreated from Syria and surrendered to the Muslim troops in the time of Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab RA.
At that time, they rejected the offer of peace through the letter of the Messenger of Allah PBUH.
On the contrary, they were the one who gathered a large army in order to achieve their goal of destroying Islam since the influence of Islam were growing immensely among their own people.
In fact, even those who remained with their original religion sided with Islam because of the element of justice.
In 1453, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih had commanded that the building be renovated into a mosque.
Bell, altar and things that have elements of Christianity were removed while drawings on the walls were pasted over.
All of them were replaced with Islamic features such as altar, pulpit and four minarets outside of the building.
Ayasofya retained its function as a mosque until 1935 when its role was changed into a museum by the government of the Turkish Republic.
For almost 500 years, Ayasofya became the main mosque in Istanbul and the model to other mosques such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque in Istanbul), Şehzade Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque and Rüstem Pasha Mosque.
Historical account shows that the Muslims had bought it at a reasonable price at that time and the owners of the church agreed to sell it.
There is a written document that corroborated the claim that Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih had paid the price of the purchase with his own money and other contributors without taking any of the state money.
The Muslims’ victory in capturing Constantinople had been promised by the Messenger of Allah PBUH through his hadith:
لَتُفْتَحَنَّ القُسْطَنْطِيْنِيَّةُ، فَلَنِعْمَ الْأَمِيْرُ أَمِيْرُهَا، وَلَنِعْمَ الْجَيْشُ ذَلِكَ الْجَيْشُ.
“You will conquer Constantinople. Its commander is the best, and its army (that will conquer it) is the best.” (Reported by Ahmad 18957)
Since Ayasofya was obtained through the war, its role as a church at that time was different to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Palestine and several old churches in Egypt.
Those were different matters because other churches were obtained through peace treaty which was why they were returned to the Christians until today.
Ayasofya was later sold by the Muslims. Such transaction was not out of the norm because several churches in the West were also sold when the Christians no longer frequented it.
Some of the churches were abandoned to the point they were engulfed by overgrown weeds and some of them were converted to entertainment place and restaurant.
As for Ayasofya that became a mosque, it was later transformed once again into a museum by the Turkish government led by Kamal Ataturk, a secularist who wanted to prove the separation of politics in his practice from Islam, thus forcing the call to prayer to be converted into Turkish.
Yet, the Muslims in Turkey nowadays have returned to the true practice of Islam. This coincided with today’s move to restore the role of Ayasofya as a mosque that is enlivened with various acts of worship.
It is confusing why the Western countries all over the world are protesting this change.
They are supposed to be adamant supporters of secularism that separate religion from politics.
Thus, it is crystal clear that they are still plagued by Islamophobia that they themselves created.
To top it off, they remain silent towards the Zionists who are planning to seize and demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque that used to be the first qibla for the Muslims.
Similarly, thousands of Islamic mosques were destroyed and seized in Spain, including in Cordova and other places such as the Babri Masjid in India.
As a matter of fact, they believe that Prophet Isa AS were killed by a Jewish extremist, thus elevating him to the status of a child of God.
This is an ideology that is rejected by the Muslims.
On the other hand, the Muslims believe that Prophet Isa AS is a messenger who had been rescued by Allah and will return to Earth in the period leading up to Judgment Day.
How could they have such belief but at the same time being supportive of the Jew who was said to have killed the Prophet that they claimed as the child of God?
Now, they are the one making various protests on the grounds of defending the function of Ayasofya as a church that for them, it is better to turn it into a museum instead of a church.
In addition, they remain tight-lipped in the issue of a mosque that is being seized.
- Writer is a PAS President and also as the prime minister’s special envoy to the Middle East.