My Journey to the Ever-Evolving Hagia Sofia

Inside Hagia Sofia

We visited at a time of renovation with scaffolding throughout the central hall, but none of that detracted us from the magnificence of the design.

It isn’t fair to compare the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sofia, they are two very different experiences.

The Byzantine mosaics throughout Hagia Sofia are from gold, silver, glass, terra cotta and other stones depicting various Christian religious scenes.

One shows Mariam with Prophet Jesus in her lap. Another shows Prophet Jesus on a throne with a bible with Emperor Constantine and his wife Empress Zoe, donating to build the cathedral.

Verses of the Qur’an have been added to the ceiling along with circular dials that include amongst other things, some of the names of God.

My favorite scene within the structure is looking towards the front where there are giant circular dials with Allah on one side, Muhammad on the other side, and a Christian mosaic in the center.

In Berlin they have built a House of One, where a Synagogue, Church and Mosque are present in the same structure, bringing faiths together. In Istanbul, they already have the equivalent, a Church and a Mosque in one.

Greeting the mosque

Walking through Hagia Sofia, we could see tourists from around the world marvel at its rich diverse beauty. You could even spot people saying the occasional prayer, such is the inescapable bond created with such a magnificent structure instilling a devotion to God.

Inspired by other people’s actions, we decided to do the same ourselves, one by one, we found a spot and offered the prayer for greeting a mosque, a tradition throughout the generations, comprising of two motions (rakah) of prayer.

There is understandably angst and concern about re-opening Hagia Sofia as a mosque. But while we do not know the implications this will have, we do not believe that such a rich cultural monument will not open for tourists.

Perhaps like the Blue Mosque opposite the street, Hagia Sofia will remain accessible to all outside prayer times.

What I can say is that it will be interesting to return to Istanbul and join prayer in Hagia Sofia. And I hope that perhaps a space will be available for Christians too to offer prayers.

The shared cultural heritage allows for both faiths to find increased mutual respect when offered a chance to reconnect with the shared Christian-Muslim heritage.

And in the end, whatever our journeys, the path is always back to the One who created us all. 

Pages: 1 2
About Farrukh Younus
Farrukh I Younus has a background in mobile phone strategy across Europe and Asia, and has visited China on more than 25 occasions. Dedicated to understanding and delivering solutions based on new technology, Younus has spoken on the subject to the EU in Brussels, and regularly attends industry-leading conferences. He currently runs a video platform, Implausibleblog, delivering lifestyle content via social media; where his focus is on understanding consumer behaviour with regards to digital content and digital advertising. His interests include travel, nouvelle cuisine, and chocolate.