Ahmad Karima, a professor of Islamic law at Egypt's Al-Azhar University, said in a July 13, 2020 interview on Channel 1 (Egypt) that Hagia Sophia is part of the heritage of humanity and should remain a church. He said that in the past, Al-Azhar scholars had the same reasoning for condemning the Taliban's destruction of the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan. He said that when the companions of the Prophet Muhammad came to Egypt, they saw ancient Egyptian monuments such as the Sphinx and the pyramids, yet did not destroy them or turn them into mosques because they belonged to the heritage of all of humanity. Karima added that if Hagia Sophia had been a Christian church in the past, it should remain so now.
Ahmad Karima: "If [Hagia Sophia] is a museum, then it is part of the heritage of mankind and it belongs to humanity. When Al-Azhar condemned the destruction of the archeological Buddha statues by the Taliban – what was the reason for our condemnation? That this was human heritage."
Host: "But some people say that they were not built by the People of the Book, or by people who subscribe to monotheistic religions..."
Karima: "But it's part of the heritage of humanity, and the companions of the Prophet understood it. When they encountered the sphinx and the temples in Luxor and Qena, they didn't harm them. They left them intact, because they knew that this heritage belongs to humanity. Have you ever heard that the companions of the Prophet had turned any Pharaonic temple in to a mosque? No such thing happened. They exist to this very day.
"This is to the credit of Islamic civilization. Similarly, if the Hagia Sophia Cathedral had been a Christian church, then it should remain a Christian church. This is unequivocal. If the Hagia Sophia Cathedral had been a Christian church, then it should remain a Christian church."