Religious leaders send letters to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate praising reopening of Hagia Sophia as mosque
Leaders of Muslim communities around the globe are welcoming Turkey’s decision to make Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia a mosque again and congratulating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the move.
In letters and phone calls to Ali Erbas, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, the leaders thanked Erdogan and hailed the reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque, said a directorate statement.
In a phone call, Allahshukur Pashazadeh, the chairman of the Religious Council of the Caucasus, congratulated Erbas over Turkey’s move, while a letter from Rateb Jneid, head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, conveyed his support for the decision.
The Republic of Turkey under Erdogan’s leadership is “a rising star and indispensable source of hope for Muslims and the oppressed,” Shaqir Fetahu, deputy chair of the Islamic Religious Union of the Republic of Macedonia, said in his letter.
Moreover, in a letter on behalf of the Council of Lithuanian Muslims Religious Communities, Lithuanian Mufti Aleksandras Beganskas said: “We believe that this blessed mosque, which is a symbol of monotheism, will embrace all of humanity regardless of religion, language, race, and sect under Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.”
Erdogan’s move to open Hagia Sophia for worship is a sign of the liberation of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque from captivity, said a letter from the Association of Palestinian Scholars Abroad.
In its letter, the Association of Moroccan Scholars congratulated all the courts in Turkey, the people, and the Islamic world, especially Erdogan, for deciding to reopen Hagia Sophia for worship.
Also thanking Erdogan and hailing the decision were Sheikh Ahmad bin Hamad Al-Khalili, grand mufti of the Sultanate of Oman; Abdel-Hadi al-Agha, undersecretary of Palestine’s Religious Affairs Ministry; and Sheikh Maulana Shabbir Saloojee, the rector of Darul Uloom Zakariyya, an Islamic university in Lenasia, South Africa.
Hagia Sophia was first built as a church in the Byzantine era. It became a mosque after Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II conquered Istanbul in 1453.
Last week, a top Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree which had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum after nearly 500 years of use as a mosque.