Turkey’s Hagia Sophia holds the first Taraweeh prayers in 88 years

turkeys hagia sophia holds the first taraweeh prayers in 88 years
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Publié le 7 avril 2022, par Samir | 12 h 53 min
Temps de lecture : 8 minutes

Istanbul’s iconic landmark opened its doors for Muslims as Hagia Sophia holds the first Taraweeh prayers in almost 88 years, TRT World reported. Muslims worldwide gathered to perform Ramadhan prayers after many decades since it became a museum in 1934.

Pictures show heartwarming images of hundreds of Muslims gathered to perform their first Taraweeh after nearly ninety years and they couldn’t be more spiritually refreshed.


Hagia Sophia holds the first Taraweeh prayers in 88 years

In the Hagia Sophia mosque, Several thousands of Muslims flew to Turkey to attend the first-ever Taraweeh prayers on Friday, April 1. The mosque opened for prayers on July 24, 2020, but could not be publicly used due to pandemic restrictions as there was a high risk of infection. However, with the covid cases coming to a decline and the majority of the population got vaccinated, Turkish authorities decided to open the mosque for conducting prayers during the Holy month of Ramadhan.

Numerous events will take place at the mosque as the Holy month of Ramadhan begins, and Muslims from different regions of the world will visit this magnificent mosque to experience Taraweeh prayers, listen to sermons and feel the Holy vibes of Ramadhan in the best of spirit.

What is ‘Taraweeh‘?

Muslim worshippers offer Taraweeh prayers after Isha during the thirty days of Ramadhan. It is the most sacred month for Muslims in which they keep fast from Fajr to Maghrib to attain the blessings of Allah. The Taraweeh prayers include recitation of long chapters of the Holy Quran and several rakahs.

« Thanks be to God. For the first time in 88 years, the mosque will welcome believers for tarawih prayers this Ramadan, » said Ali Erbas, head of the Diyanet. Diyanet is the Turkish Presidency for Religious Affairs.

History of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was constructed in 532 CE under the rule of Justinian I, the then ruler of the Byzantine Empire. At that time, Istanbul was called Constantinople, and its architecture was the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s seat for almost 900 years. It was given the status of a mosque in 1453 after Istanbul’s takeover by the Ottoman Empire.

According to The Met, « After Mehmet II’s conquest of the city in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque (Ayasofya Camii), which remained until the fall of the Ottoman empire in the early twentieth century. A view of Hagia Sophia during the conquest is conveyed in a woodcut by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, depicting the procession of Süleyman the Magnificent through the Hippodrome (28.85.7a). During this period, minarets were built around the perimeter of the building complex, Christian mosaic icons were covered with whitewash, and exterior buttresses were added for structural support. In 1934, the Turkish government secularized the building, converting it into a museum, and the original mosaics were restored. »

The fifteen hundred-year-old structure remained a church for nearly 900 years and a museum for 86 years. However, it primarily served as a worship place for a long time, from 1453 to 1934. In 1985, UNESCO made it a part of the World Heritage List known as and now it is Turkey’s most famous tourist place, which remains a center of attention for thousands to millions of local and foreign tourists.

‘The atmosphere here was totally different.’

Ramadhan is the month of blessings and barakah; it is the month to pause, sit back, and self-reflect. While speaking to the worshippers that landed in Hagia Sophia to attend the Taraweeh prayers, one of them told the TRT World that the atmosphere there was different. He could feel an altogether more spiritual experience than how it is in Australia.

The worshippers gathered at the Hagia Sophia said it was almost impossible to be present at the mosque and not feel a spiritual connection. Another visitor flying from Australia expressed his ecstatic moment to attending the fantastic event (Taraweeh prayers). He said that he booked his flight to Istanbul only to witness that heartwarming event that happened after nearly a hundred years. He claimed that he did not want to miss it for anything, prayed his Taraweeh, and headed back to Australia the next day.

The Muslim worshippers have been keen to revisit this Holy structure, and throughout the blessed month of Ramadhan, there would be a series of events held in the mosque.

Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş, President of Religious Affairs, thanked Allah for bestowing the opportunity of performing the first Taraweeh prayers at the historical landmark, Hagia Sophia. His tweet said:

« Praise be to Allah, who has given us the opportunity to perform the first Tarawih of Ramadan together in Hagia Sophia. After 88 years of separation, the Hagia Sophia Mosque has regained its tarawih prayers, Alhamdulillah. »

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Muhammad Ramzan Chhippa, The Distinguished Eminent Pakistani Social Worker, congratulated Muslims on this historical event in his tweet:

“I congratulate the Muslim world on the announcement of Taraweeh prayers in the iconic Hagia Sophia for the first time in 86 years. It will be the first Taraweeh prayers after 1934.”

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As the pandemic restrictions have started easing off this year, Muslims worldwide are ecstatic to resume their Ramadhan obligations, night prayers, iftars, and charity drives. The blessed month of Ramadhan began on April 2, and the devotees of Islam are well-prepared to welcome this month with full zeal and religious harmony since the past two months were quiet due to the pandemic rise.

Many Muslims have returned to communal services like family get-togethers, group iftars, prayers, and donation activities.

Hundreds of Muslims performed the first Taraweeh at Times Square, New York

In other news, a large group of Muslims in the US gathered in Times Square, New York, to perform their first Iftar of the month. They also offered Taraweeh prayers at the same venue, CBS News reported. According to the event managers, it was the first time that such a vast congregation took place at the iconic spot of Times Square. 

The event attendees joined the iftar gathering, listened to Quran recitations, and prayed Taraweeh prayers together. Event attendees received meal boxes as the organizers distributed 1,500 meals to those who came to Times Square from across the US to attend the first iftar and Taraweeh of Ramadhan.

« For Muslims, it’s not just about fasting so that we understand how those who are food insecure feel. We are doing this to become closer and more contentious of our creator, our Lord, Allah, » said SQ, one of the event organizers. “We are all united and connected. People need to stop trying to disunite Christians, Muslims, Jews, and everyone. That needs to stop.”

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« There’s a lot of misconceptions about Islam, » one attendee said. « There are crazy people throughout all cultures, religions, and those small groups of people do not represent the majority… We’re encouraged to pray, fast, do good deeds, give charity. »

What is the significance of Ramadhan?

The lunar calendar’s ninth month, Ramadhan, is a sacred month for Muslims worldwide. Quranic verses prove that Ramadhan is the month when Allah sent His angel Gabriel to read out his revelation to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is the month of immense significance as Allah invites His creatures to collect the blessings and virtues of this month as much as they can.

The most significant night of the revelation remains under debate among different sects of Islam. Still, a common belief says that the 27th Ramadhan marks ‘Laylat ul Qadr’, also called ‘The Night of Decree.’

Muslims also believe that Allah, The Exalted, shows His immense mercy on this night and decides everyone’s fate. Hence it is an excellent opportunity for the believers to utilize this blessed month in the best possible way and seek Allah’s blessings. He forgives us for our sins and showers His countless blessings on humanity.

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.” (Qur’an, 97:3)

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him), said, “Whoever prays on Laylatul Qadr out of faith and sincerity shall have all their past sins forgiven” (Hadith, Bukhari, Muslim).

Muslim worshippers have to adhere to the Islamic teachings during the month of Ramadhan and abstain from impossible acts. They must seek forgiveness from Allah and purify their souls through extensive prayers and worship during and after fasting. Muslims must increase charity acts during Ramadhan and focus on sharing food, clothes, and other necessities with the less privileged community members.

“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa.”

[Al-Qur’an v183]

The idea of fasting revolves around attaining Taqwa – conscious awareness of Allah and feeling the hunger and thirst of the poor by keeping ourselves hungry throughout the day. The act of fasting makes us realize that Allah has blessed us in so many ways that we can’t even imagine. He keeps showering us with numerous bounties. Hence we should always be patient and grateful to our Lord.

Devotedly staying busy in prayers, reciting the Holy Book of Allah and sending salutations to the Prophet and his progeny, and performing optional and obligatory prayers – these are some of the high-rewarding acts that could help us gain Allah’s mercy and forgiveness during Ramadhan.

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