Hagia Sophia: Did Turkey convert a church into a mosque?

Several media outlets are reporting, or at least giving the impression, that Turkey has converted Hagia Sophia, a historic church into a mosque.

The reality however is that Hagia Sophia, or Aya Sofya, was a mosque from 1453 until 1934, when Kemal Ataturk, the secular leader of Turkey, and his council of ministers changed it into a museum. The Hagia Sophia was a church before 1453 during the Byzantine times.

Sultan Mehmet II (Muhammad al-Faatih), the famous Ottaman (Uthmani) ruler, conquered Constantinople in 1453 and converted the church into a masjid after legitimately acquiring the property. Since then, the masjid was an endowment property (waqf) administered under an Islamic trust.

Turkey simply reversed the 1934 decision of converting a mosque to a museum. Turkey did not convert a church into a mosque.

The court ruled that Kemal Ataturk had no right to convert the property under waqf and that the 1934 decree was illegal. As a Muslim majority country, there were several attempts in the past by the public to challenge the decree.

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