12/09/2020, 17.07
TURKEY - ISLAM
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Erdogan donates a plate with Qurʼānic verses to Hagia Sophia

The text, which includes verses 159 and 160 from the Surah Al-i Imran, says: “Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him. [. . .] So in Allah let the believers put their trust.” Placed close to the pulpit, it also reads:” The plate is endowed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque on the occasion of its reopening to worship.”

Istanbul (AsiaNews) –  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan donated a plate decorated with verses from the Qurʼān to Istanbul’s Basilica of Hagia Sophia, now a mosque after it was reopened recently to Muslim worship after 86 years as a museum.

The plate includes verses from the Surah Al-i Imran: “Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him. […] So in Allah let the believers put their trust.” At bottom, it reads: “The plate is endowed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (name in Arabic) to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque on the occasion of its reopening to worship.”

The plate is the work of Mehmet Özçay. It measures 234 by 350 centimetres on a black background, featuring verses (Āyah) 159 and 160 of the chapter (Surah) ‘Family of Imran’ (Al-i Imran).

The plate, whose text appears in two scripts of calligraphy: naksh and thuluth, was placed on a wall near the pulpit (minbar) of the former Christian basilica, now the Ayasofia Grand Mosque (Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi)

The first verse, 159, reads: “It is out of Allah’s mercy that you ˹O Prophet˺ have been lenient with them. Had you been cruel or hard-hearted, they would have certainly abandoned you. So pardon them, ask Allah’s forgiveness for them, and consult with them in ˹conducting˺ matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.”

The second one, 160, goes: "If Allah helps you, none can defeat you. But if He denies you help, then who else can help you? So in Allah let the believers put their trust.”

Turning the ancient Christian basilica of Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora back into mosques after they were transformed into museums by the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is part of President Erdoğan’s political strategy of combining nationalism and Islam to stay in power by diverting attention from the country’s economic crisis.

Following the presidential order to convert the church back into a mosque, which sparked a political and religious controversy that transcended Turkey’s borders, Islamic authorities put up a white curtain to cover the images of Jesus, and all the frescoes and icons that testify to the building’s Christian roots.

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