April 15, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8698

Following Erdoğan's Promise To Convert Hagia Sophia 'Back Into A Mosque,' Quran Verses, Call To Prayer Recited In The Ancient Church

April 15, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8698

In May 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: "A short time ago they converted the Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum. Inshallah, after the election, we will convert it namely from a museum back into a mosque."[1] On March 23, 2020, a video titled "Hagia Sophia Mosque Sound Allah Call to Prayer 23/03/2020" was uploaded to YouTube. The video, which has the logo of the İhlas News Agency, shows two men inside the Hagia Sophia reciting the Islamic call to prayer as well as verses from the Quran.

Click here or below to view a clip of the recitation on MEMRI TV.

History Of The Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia was built in 537 as a church, was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, and was converted into a museum in 1935. While the Islamic call to prayer has been recited in the building since as early as 1980,[2] in recent years there has been more discussion about converting the building back into a mosque.

On March 31, 2018, President Erdogan gave a speech in the Hagia Sophia in which he called on the audience to recite the first chapter of the Quran, Surah Al-Fatiha, as a prayer for the "souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul's conqueror, Fatih Sultan Mehmet." Quran verses were recited in the space before the speech.[3]

Erdoğan speaking in the Hagia Sophia in 2018 (source:

In October 2016, Turkey's Ministry of Religious Affairs appointed an imam to the Hagia Sophia and Friday prayers were performed in the Hünkar Kasrı section of the building. From then on five prayers per day have been held there.[4] Noon and afternoon prayers had been performed there since 1991.[5]

During Ramadan in June 2016, the Ministry of Religious Affairs televised a special program on its Diyanet TV channel in which verses from the Quran and calls of tekbir ("say: Allah is the greatest") were recited from the minarets of the Hagia Sophia.[6]

On May 30, 2016, the 563rd anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul, supporters of the Saadet ("Felicity") party, an Islamist party, wore t-shirts that said "Shoes cannot be worn in a mosque," then took their shoes off at the entrance of the Hagia Sophia and walked around inside without their shoes on.[7]


[1], March 29, 2019.

[2], October 20, 2016.

[3], March 31, 2018.

[4], October 20, 2016.

[5], October 21, 2016.

[6], June 30, 2016.

[7], May 30, 2016.

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