Within the city walls—It was dedicated, in 360 AD, to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It is said to have changed the history of architecture. Destroyed twice and then rebuilt a third time into an awe-inspiring cathedral.
I am, of course, talking about Hagia Sophia or more accurately the “Church of the Holy Wisdom of God”. Jesus Christ being the Holy Wisdom of God (according to Eastern Orthodox theology).
This cathedral, in its present shape, stood as the cathedral of Constantinople from 537 AD to 1453 AD. It was the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople and also a place for Byzantine imperial ceremonies—it also offered asylum to wrongdoers.
Outside the city walls—A power hungry Arab in Medina roused a band of blood thirsty warmongering Arabs to murder, rape and pillage in the name of an ancient pagan god. The belief system that he created revolved around fear, pride and revenge. They laid siege to cities and towns alike—either converted, subjugated or murdered the inhabitants. On their conquest of blood and booty, they suffered few losses. One of the losses was at the hands of the Byzantine army at “the Battle of Muta” in 629 AD (a battle initiated by the Arabs).
Fast forward to 674, a mere 45 years after their defeat, the Arabs had amassed an army big enough to attack the capital of one of the strongest empires at the time. The empire was Byzantine and the capital city was Constantinople, the seat of Christendom at the time. The city and the people within proved too strong to be broken and Arabs were faced with another humiliating defeat.
After the Arabs converted to Islam the surrounding Turks, another band of warmongers, the Turks decided it was their duty to avenge the defeat of 629 AD. After over 12 attacks and siege attempts from both Arabs and Turks over a period of over 700 years the city fell to the Turks.
Sultan Mehmet II “the Conqueror”, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, entered the city on May 29, 1453 and declared it the new capital of the Ottoman Empire. Hours after the city fell, Sultan rode on his horse to “the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople and a place for Byzantine imperial ceremonies” and summoned an imam to proclaim the Islamic creed converting the cathedral, that had stood for over a 1000 years as a symbol of a Christian empire, into a mosque. That was what completed the victory of Islam over the Byzantine Empire. The conversion of the cathedral into a mosque symbolized the fall and subjugation of a once-awesome Christian kingdom.
This practice in Islam, conversion of non Muslim places of worship into mosques, was not a misguided step taken by Muslims after their bloodthirsty leader died. It was a practice instituted by their leader Mohammed when he conquered Mecca and converted the pagan house of worship, the Kaaba, into a mosque.
The symbolism of mosques in non Muslim lands is significant. It tells the surrounding people that Islam is victorious and not only that but everyday, five times a day (at least), it tells Muslims and non Muslims alike to come and worship Allah. The call to prayer, the adhan, says “Allah is great(greater, to be more accurate), I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, I bear witness that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah…” That is a call to worship Allah, the warmongering god of Islam. “Allah is greater” or “Allah-u-akbar” also happens to be the war cry of Muslims when they’re descending upon infidels to kill them or be killed.
Something for us infidels, especially those in New York, to think about.
(A lot of information taken from wikipedia and also personal experience).