There is absolutely no conundrum underlying the Earthquake Punishment of Allah Ta’ala on the vile population of that unfortunate land. Allah Azza Wa Jal is the Creator of the people. He is the Creator of the Earthquake and He does with His makhlooq as He wills. Whatever Allah Ta’ala does with His creation is the effect of His Wisdom and Justice.
That the Earthquake and the consequential miseries are His Punishment, the following reward testifies for this fact:
“Safe zone for women and LGBT+ here,” proclaim posters in Turkish and Arabic.
The Arabic is a nod to the millions of refugees and migrants who have been living across stretches of southern Turkey since the start of the civil war in neighbouring Syria 12 years ago.
“We have a security system for both women and LGBT+, who are more vulnerable in such disasters,” said Aslihan Keles, 23, one of the volunteers in the park.
Turkish women often join marches on March 8 — the official International Women’s Day — demanding better lives and protection against domestic violence.
But this year, things are different in the quake zone, Keles said.
“Here, there is an emergency,” she said. “This time, we are in field — but for a very good cause.”
– by Fulya Ozerkan Source AFP
(End of Report)
The evil and filth – fisq, fujoor and kufr – of the people have transgressed the bounds of no return, hence this Greater Punishment, mentioned in the Qur’aan Majeed:
“Most assuredly, We shall give them (first) to taste of the lesser punishment, not the greater punishment for perhaps (their brains and eyes will open) and they may return (to Rectitude).”
What message is CII sending with this arrangement which they have with a sheeshalounge. Allah said (interpretation or meaning):
“Do not kill yourself. Allah is Merciful unto you.” (Surat al-Nisaa’ 4:29)
In addition, His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“There is no harm or causing of harm (in Islaam).” (Arabic “laa darar walaa diraar”)
These days we see Islamic organisations claiming to do good but when you trace the source of their good, you find that there is some wickedness, evil and corruption to it. When you mix good and bad you go mad…. there’s that saying.
Insha’Allah the Mujlisul Ulama can comment further on whether this 10% is Halal to send to Turkey and Syria.”
(End of query)
Water mixed with urine is filthy and Haraam. Allah Ta’ala does not accept ‘charity’ with haraam funds. Smoking, hookah and vapes are haraam. The money derived from the sale of haraam is haraam. Charity with haraam is haraam. It is not acceptable to Allah Ta’ala. Accepting the haraam money from the haraam vendors of the haraam products is to legitimize their haraam business. This project is a haraam stunt to boost the haraam sales of the haraam vendors. It is haraam from A to Z.
Everything related to this haraam project is haraam.
Turkey is plagued by a triad of kufr. There are three ideologies of kufr predominating in Turkey.
1. Attaturk Kufr
2. Gulenist Kufr
3. Zandaqah Kufr
From the time of Attaturk, it was the sway of Attaturk Kufr. Gulen appeared later on the scene to begin his movement of Kufr in the name of Islam. He was an American agent. To this day he is under US protection. He resides in America where he has amassed a massive fortune.
The Zandaqah Kufr is the ideology to which Erdogan subscribes. A Zindeeq is a professed Muslim who interprets the Qur’aan and Sunnah to conform with his whimsical fancies.
The vast majority in Turkey today are still kuffaar labouring in the deception of being followers of Islam. There is also a small segment of the population consisting of true Muslims. It was for this tiny segment that Allah Ta’ala had installed Erdogan.
BEWARE! THE WINDOW WILL CLOSE!
For the tiny segment of True Muslims in Turkey, Allah Ta’ala has opened a window in the windowless dungeon of kufr in which Muslims have been languishing and suffocating in Attaturk Kufr since the abolition of the Khilaafat just over a century ago. That Window is Erdogan.
Although Erdogan is no paragon of Islam nor is the establishment of the Shariah his objective, nevertheless under his rule there is freedom to practice Islam. It therefore devolves on the small segment of Muslims to extract maximum advantage from this breathing space to spread the Deen. Ta’leem, Tarbiyat and Da’wat are Waajib for the Muslims. If these obligations will be shirked, and if the opportunity provided by Allah Ta’ala is ignored or wasted, then assuredly the Window will close. Erdogan will disappear from the scene to be replaced by either Attaturk Kufr or Gulen Kufr.
The bosom acceptance of the Israeli Iblees by Erdogan serves to expose the latter’s true colours. While the Muslims of the world had gained the impression that Erdogan was a ‘saviour’ of the Ummah, they miserably failed to understand that this impression was a stupid notion based on a mirage. The stupidity of the notion is well comprehended by those whose intelligence has not been corrupted by mundane designs and obliviousness of the objective of Imaan.
At most, Erdogan was a window which Allah Ta’ala has opened in the solid wall of kufr in which Turkey was esconsed since the abolition of the Khilaafat and the imposition of the raw kufr of Attaturkism. With the advent of Erdogan the kufr of Attaturk’s oppression was cancelled for those who had Islam at heart. With Erdogan, Allah Ta’ala is providing Deeni-inclined Muslims of Turkey an opportunity to take maximum advantage and to lay the foundations for the spread of Islam in Turkey where kufr predominates despite the ostentatious profession of Islam.
The occasional Islamic squeak made by Erdogan is politically motivated to gain the support of the Muslims of the world. Playing the national anthem of Israel and paying respects at the mausoleum of Islam’s greatest enemy, Attaturk are a brutal affront for Islam and true Muslims. Opening of the Sophia Musjid in Istanbul is another political stunt devoid of Islamic altruism. All the trappings of Christian kufr have been retained in the Musjid. The temple character still pervades the Musjid which is still polluted by droves of tourists wallowing in janaabat and kufr.
If Erdogan had any understanding of Imaan, the Israeli president’s glowing tribute and showering of accolades on the Iblees, Attaturk would not have been accepted with a smile and solemn condonation as Erdogan had done. If the Israeli president had for example said that Erdogan was an illegitimate son of a whore, would he have remained silent? Would he have smiled? Yet, it was perfectly acceptable and tolerable for him to have accepted the praises which Herzog lauded on Islam’s enemy, Attaturk who had abolished not only the Khilaafat, but Islam as well. The entire population was denuded of Imaan during his reign, and that kufr endures to this day.
If political circumstances constrained peace with Israel, there is scope in Islam for a treaty with the enemy as demonstrated by Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) on the occasion of Hudaibiyyah. But, peace with the enemy does not mean bootlicking and acceptance of the kufr the enemy proffers. Peace with the enemy does not permit praising and honouring the kaafir. The Arsh of Allah Azza Wa Jal shudders when the enemies of the Deen are honoured and praised. Erdogan is guilty of this capital crime.
Furthermore, Turkey is under no pressure of any kind to enter into a bootlicking friendship with Israel. Israel is not a military threat to Turkey. The Shariat permits a peace treaty with the enemy only if the Muslim army has been reduced to impotence and defeat. This is not the case with Turkey, hence there is not even a valid worldly reason for Erdogan’s bootlicking embrace of the Israeli president.
DISTURBING DAY INISTANBUL ASISRAELI PRESIDENTWARMLY WELCOMED
(Palestine Information Network and Agencies)
President of the Israeli State, Isaac Herzog met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday afternoon, shortly after landing in Ankara for a “landmark” 24-hour visit.
In remarks to the media, Erdogan said he believed that “this historic visit will be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Israel. Strengthening relations with the State of Israel has great value for our country.”
He noted that the meeting with Herzog included a discussion about events in Ukraine and in the Eastern Mediterranean and said he believed “the coming period will bring new opportunities for both regional and bilateral cooperation.”
The Turkish leader expressed hope that “this important visit, taking place after so long, will provide an opening for future joint opportunities.”
Arriving at the presidential complex in Ankara, Herzog was greeted by Erdogan and an honor guard, as a band played the Israeli anthem for the first time since 2008.
Prior to his meeting with Erdogan, Herzog visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of secular Turkey, and laid a wreath.
“It is a distinct privilege to be visiting this historic site, immortalizing the great visionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,” he wrote in English.
“May we follow in the wisdom of this great leader’s legacy of progress and peace, boldly choosing the path of collaboration and welcoming the many fruits to be reaped from the promise of a safer and more stable world for our nations, our faiths, our region and the world,” he added.
It had been announced that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to visit Israel next month, as both nations seek to rekindle the once warm relations between the countries.
Cavusoglu is expected to meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and discuss the reopening of embassies in both countries.
Regarding Palestine, Erdogan said he raised his concerns in his meeting with Herzog, and stressed the need to improve the Palestinian economy as well as “the preservation of al-Aqsa.” Two states living side by side remains an important goal, he reportedly added.
An Al-Jazeera correspondent highlighted demonstrations and protests that occurred across
Turkey rejecting the visit of the Israeli president. Turkish activists burned Israeli flags on the road to the airport where the Herzog plane landed in Ankara and instead raised Palestinian flags.
Islamic civil society organizations also organized demonstrations in Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish provinces to protest against the Israeli president’s visit.
In the protest that took place in front of the Israeli embassy in Ankara, the demonstrators chanted slogans against the United States and Israel, and carried pictures of the Turkish martyrs who lost their lives when assassinated by Israeli soldiers onboard the Mavi Marmara. Israeli flags were also burned.
“We will not forget the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian martyrs, and in the name of the sanctity of Al-Quds and Masjid al-Aqsa, this visit must be confronted, as it is a step towards normalizing relations with Israel,” said the press statement, which was read out by a representative of the Anatolian Youth Association.
On the sidelines of the protest, Zaki Qanat (one of those wounded by Israeli terrorism onboard the Mavi Marmara) said in an interview with Al Jazeera that Herzog’s arrival in Turkey was a “disgrace.”
In the same context, a Turkish Islamic Party issued a statement against the Israeli president’s visit, saying, “The visit of the murderer Herzog to Turkey has seriously harmed our nation. This visit means betrayal of the Palestinian cause.”
The statement called on the Turkish president to sever relations with Israel, and said, “Israel wants to sell the gas it stole from our Palestinian brothers to Europe through Turkey. The Turkish government should not mediate to enable Israeli theft, as our nation does not accept such an agreement that legitimizes Israeli terrorism.”
He stressed that Turkey’s normalization with Israel will only bring occupation and massacres to Palestine, and can only bring evil to Turkey.
Conventional economic wisdom goes something like this: raising interest rates during high inflation is needed, because it will make borrowing money more expensive. And as people and businesses borrow less money, they have less money to spend, and that reduces the demand for goods and services. This will dampen the “velocity of money” – the speed at which money circulates through the economy – and that will then halt or reduce the price of goods and services. That way, there will not be too much money chasing the same goods and services, and as such, the problem of inflation is addressed.
Of course, the issue with an interest rate hike is that this will most likely – if not certainly – also cause an economic recession. The problem then is which is the lesser of the two evils: an immediate recession, or continued inflation leading to gradual decline into poverty?
Not to lose track of the purpose of this article, Erdogan justifies his action of cutting interest rates by appealing to Islamic grounds. As he puts it, usury “is the mother of all evil”. So here comes our problem: people – by which I mean the general non-Muslims and even liberal Muslims – will look at this so called Islamic economic tenet on the prohibition of usury and point at its terrible consequences by citing Turkey as their case study. It is this criticism of this Islamic economic tenet which I take issue with, but I am very much open to a critique of the Turkish government – the two are not the same!
Firstly, there is no validity to the basis of this complaint because it does not consider the Islamic economic model as a whole; to use Turkey as an example of one is invalid because it does not abide by a complete Islamic economic model. The two biggest contentions are the usage of a fiat currency, and interest-bearing debt as an investment instrument.
Moreover, just because a country is having an economic problem, it does not necessarily mean that their economic tenets are flawed or wrong. The fact is that all governments – regardless of their economic policies, age, or era – face economic problems and recessions. People have short memories: what caused the economic crisis of 2008-9? Pick up any encyclopaedia of your choice and read about recessions going back decades and even centuries ago.
The stories we read of the Madinan era – where stones were tied around stomachs to alleviate hunger – are strong indicators of an economic recession. This is during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, who led the best Muslim government ever to have existed.
Economic adversity seems to be a divine decree; all civilisations are afflicted by it, and this is readily deducible by a quick survey of history. The reason for this is quite simple: there are too many factors outside the control of any government to avoid recessions:
Issues relating to climate, such as droughts,
Disease and pandemics,
Sanctions, blockades, and tariffs by foreign antagonising entities,
Last but not least, fiat money must be added to this list.
This takes me to the point about why Turkey is facing such staggering rates of inflation. Firstly, to blame it all on Erdogan is not supported by the data; decades ago, Turkey had a painful experience of high and chronic inflation from 1985 to 2004, which was well before Erdogan; during this time, overtly secular forces were comfortably in power. So much for Islam and the Islamising of Turkey being the cause of all its problems.
In 2001, an independent central bank was established just to fight inflation; the initiative was successful and subsequently led to an economic boom into the country and lifted millions out of poverty.
But what is the cause of the latest inflation problem?
Here is my summary of the main reasons:
The usage of fiat currency. This is by far the most important factor, and the one you will not read about often because popular media does not take exception to fiat currency. When the underlying medium of exchange has no intrinsic value and can be easily and readily manipulated through the increase of money supply, then it should be no surprise we open ourselves up for the possibility of too much money chasing the same too-few goods and services.
The supply of money in Turkey has shot up quite radically over the past decade.
Source: The World Bank – Broad money supply
In a global environment where fiat currency is ubiquitously used, the underlying control of inflation consists of trust in the government to enable valuable goods and services to be produced, so that they can be paid for by other countries. Think about trying to buy something with Zimbabwean dollars. Once confidence tumbles, the value of the fiat currency falls.
Inflation is tricky because it is subject to self-fulfilling prophecy: the expectation of rising inflation causes inflation to rise. Since conventional wisdom requires interest rates to increase when inflation is high, and since the Turkish government is refusing to do that, the appetite for investment in Turkey has fallen; what is the point of investing in a country when your investment will automatically depreciate by more than 20% within a year just due to currency fluctuation? This lack of investment will impede – if not reduce – the goods and services that can be produced, and therefore inflation becomes a bigger problem.
One of the critical flaws of choosing to run an economy with fiat currency is the large degree on which the wealth of the population depends on the government. It is also tied to what other nations think it is worth. This takes me to another point: is that exposure risk really worth the capability of manipulating the domestic supply of money, especially for a government and people who do not subscribe to the norms of the rest of the world? I am reminded of the statement attributed to the French philosopher Voltaire: “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value – zero.”
The Turkish economy is a net importer; it brings in sources of energy and intermediate goods. The problem is those goods have seen supply disruption problems and price hikes, and that is passed on to the consumers in Turkey. This problem is actually seen all over the world right now.
Emerging market currencies have all depreciated against the dollar recently, and the US Federal Reserve estimates it will reduce its asset purchase programme. This means interest rates in the US will rise, and the money seeking higher interest rates in developing countries will be brought back home to developed countries. This leads to an appreciation of the dollar against emerging market currencies, and the lira is no exception.
Trump’s tariffs on Turkish steel in 2018 caused a 20% fall of the lira against the dollar.  This effectively made Turkish exports more expensive, and the demand for their goods fell substantially.
There are probably a few more things to add to this list.
Some Thoughts for the Turkish Government and People
Firstly, we need to concede to the reality of economic adversity. The Turkish people should prepare themselves for more economic problems in the near future. When a recession does come, then addressing it fundamentally requires consistently working hard, observing patience, and yet still undertaking investments.
Allah gives us an example of an economic adversity and how it should be handled:
“Yūsuf, O man of truth, explain to us (the interpretation of the dream) about seven fat cows eaten by seven lean (cows), and seven green spikes [of grain] and others [that were] dry – so I may return to the people; perhaps they will know.
“He said: You will plant for seven years consecutively (as usual); but leave your harvest leaves in its spikes except for a little from which you will eat (i.e. you will have seven good years of harvest, so save and be conservative with your consumption in anticipation of bad times to follow).
“Then there will come after that, seven difficult years which will consume what you saved for it, except a little from which you will store (i.e.consume what you saved in the earlier good years except a small amount which you should leave aside for the purpose of seeding the next year’s harvest).
“After that, there will come a year in which the people will be given rain and in which they will press (for olives and grapes).”
There are timeless lessons found in this short passage of the Qur’an:
Expect economic downturns in your lifetime. Good times are not perpetual. Similarly, bad times do not last forever either. Thus, you should never be unduly apocalyptic about the future. This is especially important for investors; investing requires a positive outlook of the future, or else it will not yield fruitful results.
Respect wealth (whether it is the harvest, a precious resource, or money), but be indifferent towards it.To create wealth requires hard work; people have to literally toil and spend hours of their daily lives to be economically productive. Therefore, do not let the good times cause you to forget the effort that went into making that wealth. Otherwise, you will end up spending uncontrollably and compromise your future financial security.
At the same time, wealth comes and goes, and consequently do not be obsessed with it. From time to time, you will suffer financial losses when investing – it is simply a part and parcel of the endeavour.
Bad times can last for a significant period. For instance, the famine mentioned here in these verses lasted for 7 years. The Great Depression (1929) lasted for a whole decade. Many of the recessions that followed thereafter lasted for one or two years. History should be used to calibrate our expectations – otherwise short-term thinking can cause misjudgement.
Have the foresight to think about the bad times, and then be competent enough to prepare properly for it. Had the Egyptians consumed all their produce in the good years, they would not have had anything for the bad years. And had they not known how to preserve the produce in the good years, again they would not have had anything for the bad years. Similarly, expect downturns in your life and prepare your budget for when it comes.
Invest even in difficult times, and set yourself up for success for when there is a turn-around. This means that you should not consume everything in the bad years; instead, literally sow your seeds now for the upcoming good years. Therefore, continue to work hard and put capital into your investments, even in bad times, if possible.
Yūsuf عليه السلام was given personal education and insight by Allah to understand and correctly interpret dreams. Although the king himself did not have that insight, nonetheless he was smart enough to recognise the truth when it was spoken. Knowledge is widely available, and as Muslims we have an obligation to continuously educate ourselves. We need to have at least the minimum knowledge to ask the right questions, and correctly judge between a plausible answer from one that is completely wrong.
Economic recessions can even have a cleansing effect in a country, as they lead to the pruning of businesses. Bad businesses die out or are cut down, and new pasture is formed for newer and better companies to grow. If bad businesses are allowed to survive e.g. by government intervention, then bad practices may continue and we will end up with zombie-businesses. This happened during the 1990s in Japan. Having said this, I do advocate for some services to continue to be supported. National services which are for the benefit of society, such as healthcare and infrastructure (both physical and electronic), should be supported receive direct government aid.
There are other points I feel strongly about:
An Islamic economy requires the avoidance of interest-bearing debt as an investment instrument. Debt in Islam is wholly reserved as an act of charity, and therefore the lender should not expect to profit from being in the privileged position of loaning money. Therefore, those with money wishing to make a profit should engage in genuine investment where risks are much more equitably shared. Psychologically, the investor has a much stronger urge and interest for the success of the enterprise. That should hopefully lead to better businesses.
As things stand, Turkey – like many other countries – use a tremendous amount of interest-bearing debt for its investment ventures. Such a policy has even had bad historical consequences, e.g. the construction bust of 2018 where debts were not being serviced, resulting in ghost-towns to date.  The country needs to wean itself out of interest-bearing debt.
Turkey should continue to produce unique goods and services that the world needs and wants. Economically speaking, Turkey is actually in a good place; it has a diversified economy with good exports, an educated populace, and good and conducive demographics for growth into the future.
In the short term, I personally do not think raising interest rates is necessarily ‘sinful’, since in cases of necessity prohibited religious injunctions are relaxed:
“But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
It is imperative that a maṣlaḥah/mafsadah (cost/benefit) analysis be carried out which assesses the constraints of the current state, such as living with the problems of fiat currencies.
The pros of increasing the interest rate
Avoid runaway inflation. We have a living example of what can happen when inflation gets out of control. In Venezuela, people are literally eating rotting meat just to survive. 
The Taliban are the least compromising of people, and even they have not stopped opium production in Afghanistan due to the state of extreme poverty. 
Reduce the likelihood of a political defeat in the 2023 election. I do not think the younger and poorer Turks will support the Justice and Development (AKP) party if inflation continues to rise.
The cons of increasing the interest rate
Implicit and continuous support of the interest-bearing debt investment instrument. This ultimately makes one liable for divine chastisement in this world and the next. I should add that unless the interest rate is zero, lowering the interest rate to even a relatively low amount like 3% does not remove the moral problem for a Muslim. In fact, reducing the interest rate to an attractively low number will increase the uptake of interest-bearing debts, and ironically makes the moral problem even worst.
So in order to avoid usuary, why don’t they make it prohibitively expensive?
This idea has its own problems: all variable-interest contracts will suddenly become extremely expensive and lead to mass bankruptcy. In some way, this will exhibit the exact oppression of usuary which Islam wants to prohibit since the rich will become richer, and the poor will become poorer. This makes me to the next point.
The Turkish economy goes into a recession in the short run. If the recession is more painful than just weak purchasing power due to inflation, then I think it could equally lead to the AKP losing the next election.
The phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ is somewhat overused for events that fade into mediocrity. Yet standing at the gates of Hagia Sophia and waiting for the first prayer there in 85 years was truly an awe-inspiring event. The monument itself is a timeless wonder that has encapsulated the cultures of ancient Greece, medieval Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, and modern Europe. Architects, mathematicians, geometers, engineers, and artists alike have all etched their influence into its splendid domes, mosaics, murals, and minarets. The result is a monument that has withstood 14 centuries of earthquakes, riots, invasions, and wars, standing gracefully on the horizon, evoking awe and wonder. Procopius, the principal Byzantine historian of the 6th century described Hagia Sophia as “a most glorious spectacle, extraordinary to those who behold it and altogether incredible to those who are told of it. In height it rises to the very heavens and overtops the neighbouring houses like a ship anchored among them, appearing above the city which it adorns.”
The prayer itself was of course the Jumu’ah prayer – the best day of the week, nestled in the best days of the year. The chosen date of 24th July was hugely significant, as it was the 97th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, that officially ended hostilities between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire. This prayer was not only a ritual act of worship but a bold statement to the world of the resurgence of Turkey’s Islamic heritage. The streets of Istanbul were flooded with a sea of worshippers patiently waiting for the prayer, with some having camped out since the night before. The roofs of coffee houses and shacks became makeshift prayer spaces where youngsters scrambled for a spot to pray. Wave upon wave of takbīr resounded across the old city, reaching a crescendo when President Erdoğan began his recitation of the Qur’ān. The Imam was Dr Ali Erbaş, the Head of Diyanet, the Directorate of Religious Affairs. He delivered the sermon resting on a ceremonial sword from the Ottoman era. The sermon was confident and victorious in nature, citing the great ahādīth of the conquest of Constantinople and unapologetic in raising the cause of Masjid Al-Aqsa. This was a day of celebration. This was a day of healing for the Ummah.
The protests from orthodox Christendom were to be expected, but what is clear is that the undertone of these criticisms reveal a virulent strain of anti-Turkish paranoia and racism. Ultimately, Hagia Sophia remains open to people of all faiths to visit in much the same way that the Sultanahmet Mosque across the road fulfils its dual purpose as a functioning mosque and a world heritage site. Indeed, the removal of the entry fee to Hagia Sophia should be an added incentive for tourists and worshippers alike to experience its splendour. Orthodox Christians may well ponder on the fact that it was marauding Catholic crusaders who laid the city of Istanbul to waste by plundering, murdering, and raping their Christian brethren in 1204, causing a rapid decline in the fortunes of the great city that strides two continents. They may well reflect on the words of Evliya Çelebi, the Ottoman chronicler of the 17th century who describes Hagia Sopia at the peak of its splendour and spiritual aura:
“Every night in the month of Ramazan, the two thousand lamps lighted there and the lanterns containing wax tapers perfumed with camphor pour forth streams of light upon light; and in the centre of the dome a circle of lamps represents in letters as finely formed as those of Yakut Musta’sime, that text of the Kuran: “God is the light of the heavens and of the earth.” 
Waiting for the prayer to start, I felt this was truly a ‘once in a lifetime’ event. An event where the savagery of 85 years of Turkish secularism finally received a blow that it is unlikely to recover from. The congregation of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Malaysians, and Muslims from every other nation from this Ummah surrounding me was uplifting. Each person had their own story to tell of marginalisation, structural racism, and unfulfilled hopes and dreams. Each person took away their own inspiration from this day of healing. The call to prayer will no longer resound within the walls of Hagia Sophia alone. The call to prayer will resound in the hearts of every person who witnessed this great day.
They say history is the biography of great men and women. Well, history is also the story of great buildings. This case is rarely more painfully obvious than when it comes to identity of The Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofia (“the Holy Wisdom”).
Church, Mosque, Museum: the Aya Sofia has lived under many guises over the years and each transformation came hand-in-hand with momentous political change. This year, it was no different.
By reverting to the previous designation of Aya Sofia into a mosque, the Turkish courts have set off a firestorm of controversy across the world. It is understandable that faithful Christians would object. The sense of loss they must feel is the same feeling that many Muslims get when they see the Grand Mosque of Cordoba’s conversion into a cathedral. However, what is confusing is that some Muslims are also conflicted – or even downright hostile – to the idea of the Aya Sofia being used as a mosque.
Why are they upset? Is there weight to their feeling that this was an act that was against the laws and spirit of Islam? How true is it that this was pure political theatre?
A summary of the arguments are detailed below as each point reveals a great deal about us as Muslims today and our current mentality:
1. “It should just remain a museum…”
The Aya Sofia IS remaining a museum. The ruling states and the government echoes that it is a mosque and museum but, unfortunately, if you read the headlines you will be given the impression that the museum is being destroyed. This is not the case.
The world is full of buildings with dual functions. The White House is the seat of government and the residence of the President. The Vatican is a museum, a church and the home of the Pope. St Paul’s Cathedral is a tourist attraction as well as functioning church. If Muslims alone were somehow exempt from the ability to combine museum and mosque in one building, then that would be very strange indeed. Yet that is exactly what opponents of the mosque designation are saying.
What opponents for the reversion of the building are arguing for is not for the preservation of the museum – in fact, it will be more accessible than ever by becoming free and open till the late evening – but for the prevention of worship in a building that was built and intended for that very purpose.
2. “It was illegal to turn it into a mosque in the first place…”
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: many Muslims quote the example of Umar (R) and his treatment of the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In fact, this is the number one excuse used by many so-called Muslim intellectuals who lazily have projected their own biases on to our pious predecessors. They say, not without a little pious sanctimony, that Umar (R) exemplified that Islam is not a triumphalist religion and – though he could have converted the church into a mosque – he chose not to.
For most of history, it was common practice that any conquering army gained full ownership of the conquered lands. Islamic law was actually quite progressive in this regard, stipulating that property in surrendered lands would remain with their owners and not the conquerors. It was only if a land was taken without surrender, according to Imam Al Qurtubi amongst others, should their properties be forfeit. Jerusalem surrendered and Damascus surrendered. Constantinople – despite multiple attempts requesting it to do so – did not. Therefore, Islamically and according to the norms of the time, the conversion of the Church into a mosque was legal.
This is highlighted by the case of a district of Constantinople called Psamatya (present day Koca Mustafa Pasha) whose residents surrendered to Muhammad Fatih separately. The area had the highest density of extant churches, since none were touched or taken over.
3. “But it has been a museum for so long now, so why turn it back?”
Some sources say that they have found evidence of the Church being purchased by Muhammad Fatih with his own money. The evidence has yet to be verified by external sources although it is accepted by the Turkish authorities, but even if you withhold it, the established status of the entire complex as a Waqf (Islamic endowment) is definitive. Waqfs cannot be unilaterally taken over or converted to another use.
The reality is that the conversion of the Aya Sofia from mosque to museum was a highly contentious decision taken in a manner that went against the then legal, moral and spiritual standards. It was a state sanctioned action to satisfy a political objective of the hyper-secular post-war Government. This was an injustice and it is not a good look to say that an injustice should be allowed to continue because it has been there for over eight decades.
4. “We don’t need more mosques in Istanbul…”
Would anyone think it reasonable if their local mosque was taken over unilaterally by the Government and then, when they ask for it back, they are brushed off by officials saying, “there are lots of mosques in the city and many are half empty: we are keeping this one.” Of course not. So, if it is not good enough for you, why should it be good enough for anyone else? In fact, this was the argument used by the RSS in taking over the Barbari mosque in India.
A mosque is not a property like every other. It is owned by Allah and not something we are allowed to rationalise or barter away. Allah has no need for even one mosque, but that does not mean we should stop building them or start giving them away. To go by the utilitarian argument, then anything that is not in full use by its owner is fair game for someone else to usurp. We would never accept this for our possessions so how can we accept it for something that does not belong to us?
5. “This is all a politically motivated…”
Every decision in a public sphere is political, or can be construed to be political, in some way. Building the Aya Sofia into a magnificent cathedral was a political decision by Justinian. Turning it into a mosque upon conquest was also a political decision by Muhammad Fatih. Stopping prayers in the mosque and converting it into a museum was a political decision by Mustafa Kemal. And now, returning the building to use as a mosque and museum is also a political decision by the current Turkish state.
The question is not whether it is a political act to convert the building: it will always have a political dimension. The question is whether you like the politics of someone who was praised by the Prophet ﷺ in a hadith and turned it into a mosque (Muhammad Fatih) or someone who insulted that same Prophet ﷺ as an “immoral Arab” and turned it into a museum (Mustafa Kemal.)
Pick a side.
6. “This will hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and make us look bad.”
This is perhaps the only real argument of them all that has any weight to it. All the previous arguments are intellectual (and less than intellectual) smokescreens for the desire to not hurt the feelings of others – especially when we need all the friends we can get. This is understandable given our current geopolitical situation. This is also why you are more likely to find those Muslims living as minorities objecting to the change of status, reflecting their own precarious situations in their respective countries.
However, if looking at it objectively, we see that this argument also has limitations. Muslims are equally if not more hurt at the ethnic cleansing that took place in Andalusia. Does that mean we get the Al-Hambra or the Cordoba Mosque back? What about the Parthenon – since that used to be a mosque – conquered by the same Muhammad Fatih? What about the Kremlin, where St Basil’s Basilica was made from bricks of a Tatar mosque? And can we have the Philippines back while we are all trying to not offend each other?
Making decisions such as these on the highly subjective grounds of causing offence is not only impractical, but untenable. Many expressions of Islamic faith outside a narrow paradigm of what is palatable to specific audiences, can be seen as offensive to some. If we were to make decisions based first and foremost to protect the comfort of others, you would end up with a set of groundless rituals rather than a faith. It is the equivalent of changing your name to Bob instead of Muhammad since you were worried that even Mo was too exotic. Sometimes, the proper practice of our faith and upholding of our cultural and historical traditions will upset others not because what we are doing is deliberately offensive or wrong, but because we have different values and different standards.
What is most upsetting about the change of use for the Aya Sofia is the double standard at play. Athens has not even one mosque whilst Istanbul has hundreds of churches and synagogues: yet the Greeks are calling the Turks intolerant. The Roman Catholics plundered the Aya Sofia of all treasures and took them to St Marks church in Venice (where they still are to this day): yet it is the Pope that says that he is distressed at the Muslims – who preserved the Byzantine inheritance- for turning it into a mosque and Catholic churches calling for a day of mourning.
All the commentators calling for it to not be converted back into a mosque are also correspondingly mute regarding the Granada Cathedral built on site of a mosque, or the Barbri Mosque turned temple in India, or the Al Ahmar Mosque turned into a bar in Palestine.
But this is human nature and they will shoot their shot. Nonetheless, as Muslims, if we are against the reversion of the Aya Sofia to be a mosque again, then we really need to take a long hard look at ourselves. Just as Muhammad Fatih conquered Constantinople, we need to conquer our own ignorance, our own inferiority complex and our own insecurities.
So I am seeing a lot of back and forth about whether Hagia Sofia should be turned back into a mosque or not. Whether it was correct or incorrect for Sultan Muhammad al Fatih to have turned it into a mosque?
I think the key problem is how we in the 21st century superimpose our ideas about what the Hagia Sofia was and thus trying to retrospectively fit our rulings upon it and how Muhammad al Fatih should have acted.
For many today we see it as simply a church that was converted into a mosque thus the question is whether a “church” could be taken over by Muslims in such a manner.
Firstly the Hagia Sofia wasn’t simply a church. As we know the ottomans didn’t simply go about forcibly converting all churches into mosques. So Hagia Sofia was seen by them as a unique case. That’s because it represented the cultural and political centre of the Byzantium empire. Just like Constantinople was seen as the capital of this empire. Hence this highly politically symbolic structure that was the dominant architecture of the city was not just a simple church but represented the political and cultural centre of the Byzantine empire in the capital city of this empire.
Remember also religions and their institutions were not secular institutions as we see them today. Rather they formed the political justification of the state. Hence why there was a break from the papacy in the U.K. in the 16th century as the pope held political sway over the monarchs of these states.
Hence hagia sofia is more analogous to the White House in America or the Houses of Parliament in the U.K. or the reichstag in Germany. The point being that after the defeat of the Nazis there was a race between ussr and the west to occupy and thus take control over the building due to its symbolic power. Would they have taken over nazi Germany and then allowed the Nazis to maintain control over their symbolic structures and buildings?
Thus would it make any sense that after taking a city and defeating an empire you’d allow the main political and cultural symbol of that empire to be maintained by its original adherence? It would make no political sense.
In fact it would have been dangerous as this symbol would still hold sway over the people who may have aspirations to return the land back to Byzantine control.
In this sense there’s only one possibility that is to take control and possession of such a building and make it a symbol for Islam. In this context that would have meant for Muhammad al fatih to make it into a mosque from which the adhan would be called and people gather for jummah.
Thus doing this firmly established the Islamic dominance over the Byzantine empire and in essence finished it off as a political force.
Furthermore we know that sultan Muhammad al fatih actually negotiated with the patriarchs to provide compensation or in essence the purchasing this building.
And this symbolism wasn’t missed by Mustafa Kemal who after destroying the khilafah took possession of the hagia sofia and turned it into a museum. In essence making religion and Islam in particular a matter of the past. A museum and cultural artefact that no longer had an political nor societal significance.
As for the condemnation by some non Muslims over the returning it as a mosque. This again has nothing to do with their concern about Christians being affected.
There was no concern when it was turned nor maintained as a museum. As this fit within the symbolism and narrative of the secularisation of Turkey. No one was saying it should be returned as a church.
Hence their concern is how Islam is now increasing it’s role in public life even in this symbolic fashion.
So Muslims really need to understand and appreciate the wider political and ideological issue at hand rather than getting bogged down into some sort of mosque v church v museum debate.
This isn’t the issue the real issue is about returning Islam to its role as the dominant belief system for society and basis of law of governance.
This is what is concerning them. They have little to no concern over its use as a church. For evangelical Christians they don’t even consider orthodox Christianity as true Christianity anyways. Similarly in western countries many churches are now abandoned anyways. No one is really that concerned about xtrianity except for some pockets in the Bible Belt in America.
So irrespective of Erdogan’s agenda the issue at the heart of this is the concern the west has over the trajectory of the Muslim world. One that is further putting Islam at its centre and a rejection of the secularisation of the Muslim world.
France, Germany, and the Netherlands have all halted their weapons exports to Turkey. The US imposed sanctions in response to its operation ‘Peace Spring’ in northern Syria. The operation, despite being aimed as dislodging control of the YPG-dominated (and euphemistically-named) ‘Syrian Democratic Force (SDF)’ in Syria’s northern regions, is still being dubbed a ‘war against the Kurds’ by some.
Good Terrorist—Bad Terrorist
The YPG is a recognised extension of the PKK. The US, UK, and Turkey have all outlawed the PKK as a proscribed terrorist organisation, who are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians in mainland Turkey. Some segments of the media however continues to infer that it is only Turkey that makes this association. It is as if, in the age of information, the world did not see their true colours unfurling on banners featuring the face of PKK-founder, Abdullah Ocalan, all over Syria, in their moment of excitement in overrunning Syria’s north. It fact, the ideological association was declared on their website before it was removed, yet still persists on the social media profiles of countless YPG activists and fighters.
In the words of the taxpayer-funded BBC, (emphasis added) “Turkey considers…the Kurdish-led alliance a terrorist organisation. It says it is an extension of a Kurdish rebel group fighting in Turkey.” What creativity!
In the words of Stephen Gowans in his article “The Myth of the Kurdish YPG’s Moral Excellence”:
When PKK fighters cross the border into Turkey, they become ‘terrorists’, according to the United States and European Union, but when they cross back into Syria they are miraculously transformed into ‘guerrilla” fighters waging a war for democracy as the principal component of the Syrian Democratic Force. The reality is, however, that whether on the Turkish or Syrian side of the border, the PKK uses the same methods, pursues the same goals, and relies largely on the same personnel. The YPG is the PKK.
How can some laud the US-led coalition, its YPG-led ground force and SDF brainchild, both complicit in harrowing crimes, as a ‘liberation’? It takes very little to conclude that the uproar against Turkey has very little to do with the SDF’s fight to ISIS. If such were the case, then NATO’s ‘ally’ Turkey also took the fight to ISIS in Jarablus. In fact, Turkey was the only active NATO member to dislodge the group on the ground in the form of an organised army.
Whilst the Turkish ally apparently ‘invades’, the PKK-affiliates had instead ‘liberated’. Imagine if such terminology was afforded to all groups the US and EU labelled as terrorists. In 2015, France drafted a resolution to “take all necessary measures” against ISIS and al-Nusra Front. The latter was an ethnically Syrian arch-enemy of the former, but nonetheless a legitimate ‘terrorist’ target.
Some outlets went to the extent of fabricating images to show the extent of Turkey’s ‘slaughter in Syria’. It is rather unfortunate that their cameras were not on the ground when the US-led coalition blitzed Syria’s north with 11,235 airstrikes as part of ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’. No fabrications would have been needed.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, between September 2014 and May 2019, more than 4,000 Syrian civilian citizens, including 972 children under the age of eighteen, and 712 citizen women over the age of eighteen, were killed in Syria’s east-Euphrates provinces of al-Hasakah, Al-Raqqah, Aleppo, Idlib, and Deir Ezzor by the US-led coalition. No doubt expendable “collateral damage” in some people’s estimation.
The US-led coalition’s concerns are very much besides their concern for ‘civilian casualties’. The relentless US-led bombing obliterated Syria’s north and decapacitated many divisions in the rebellion against both the regime and ISIS. In one coalition airstrike, more than 140 fighters in various rebel factions were killed. According to Amnesty International, the coalition’s YPG ground force led a deliberate, “co-ordinated campaign of collective punishment of civilians in villages previously captured by IS, or where a small minority were suspected of supporting the group” not associated with the fighting. Satellite images illustrate an inordinate scale of home demolitions, with up to 94% of some villages razed and burned to the ground by the US-EU-backed ground-force.
Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International illustrate the scale of the demolitions in the Husseiniya village in the Tel Hamees countryside. The images show 225 buildings standing in June 2014, but only 14 remaining in June 2015 – a shocking 93.8% reduction. The separatist group, bolstered by the US, Europe, and Israel, has since displaced hundreds of thousands of inhabitants from their homelands (East of the Euphrates River) to neighbouring Turkey as well as hundreds of thousands from western districts. In 2015, Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International, demanded:
“It is critical that the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and all other states supporting the Autonomous Administration, or co-ordinating with it militarily, do not turn a blind eye to such abuses. They must take a public stand condemning forced displacement and unlawful demolitions and ensure their military assistance is not contributing to violations of international humanitarian law.”
A “Fight Against Kurds”? An “Invasion of Kurdish Territories”?
Kurdish people that do not support these proscribed groups would be particularly concerned when they see reputable media outlets using such terminology. It would imply that ‘Kurds’ are a monolithic group of people with a uniform political ideology and objectives.
Kurds have existed as a discernible group for as long as two thousand years. It was only at the turn of the twentieth century that secularist nationalist movements sprouted up almost at precisely the same time that other types of ethnic-nationalisms beleaguered the ailing Ottoman Caliphate. Religious solidarity and brotherhood based on Islam, and citizenship of the Caliphate based on religious identity, or millet, mutated into a new philosophy based on the ‘ethnic’ nation-state. This naturally disadvantaged minority Kurdish communities. Colonial powers played on previously unnecessary ethnic divisions to shape out today’s nation-states, instigating the downfall of the last Caliphate. The problem of a region, hacked by colonialists into powerless ethno-minority-states, will definitely not be mended through another divide. I say this not just for Kurds but also for Arab nationalism, being of Palestinian descent myself. The answer to the oppression of Palestinians is likewise not a secularist, nationalistic Palestinian nation state, but the unity and strengthening of the Ummah at large.
Kurds live across four countries and some of them aspire to statehood; they are not isolated in northern Syria. In fact, of the four countries, the Syrian-Kurdish community is the smallest. Less than two million live in Syria and whilst they are concentrated in the north, they do not form the majority ethnic group there. We can take a step further and say that to call Turkey’s involvement an ‘aggression’ or ‘war against Kurds’ is intentionally inflammatory. Kurds, who fought against the oppressive ramifications brought onto them by the wretched nationalism mentioned above, should read this fictitious display of ethnic sympathy as just another instance of colonial opportunism on the back of their repression.
The regions between Turkey and Syria, previously overrun by SDF forces, are an almost indiscernible melting-pot of ethnicities. And many are almost entirely ethnically Arab districts. This is not to play on ethnic sensitivities, but a statement of fact. Arabs, for instance, are the largest ethnic group in all of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, al-Hasakah, Manbij, Tel al-Abyad, and Tel Raf’at. The remainder are not entirely Kurd, but a mixture of Kurds, Turkmen, Circassians, and Assyrians.
The northern-Syrian city of Qamishli, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, was established by the Assyrians in the 1920s. Kurdish-populated ‘Ayn al-Arab, or Kobane in eastern-Aleppo was originally inhabited by Arabs followed by Armenians prior to World War I. Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, was inhabited by Assyrians centuries before Christ. Similar can be said about Afrin, Malikiya, and al-Hasakah to which ethnic Kurds migrated and settled.
Even the SDF is not ethnically only ‘Kurdish’ by any stretch of imagination. In fact, around 40% of the group is non-Kurdish and amongst its fighters are Arabs and Turkmen. Likewise, the Syrian National Army, which has been fighting the YPG, is also not entirely Arab. Some battalions like the ‘Hamza Brigade’ is nearly 70% Kurdish, operates under the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army and fights alongside Turkish forces. The simplistic Turk vs Kurd or Arab vs Kurd binaries are dangerous and misleading distractions that serve the neo-imperialist interests of divide-and-rule, that break down once the facts on the ground are revealed
Operation ‘Peace Spring’ is not to repatriate only Syria’s ethnic Arabs either. Around 300,000 ethnically Kurdish refugees have been displaced from Syria and live in neighbouring Turkey. The fight against the SDF, a force of some 50,000 militiamen, around half of whom are ethnically Arab, is at the expense of repatriating ten times that number of ethnic Kurds. One would thus be more justified, statistically, calling it an operation to repatriate Kurdish people rather than a war against them. Ponder the power of the agenda at play to paint it as the latter rather than the former.
There is no doubt that there is a large Kurdish presence in Syria’s north. But the question is: should every ethnic composition or concentration form a separate state? If such were the case, should the four million displaced Syrians living in destitution and clustered in Turkey’s south also demand independence? In reality, if ethnicity were grounds for independence, the extraordinary diversity of the region, including the Anatolian Peninsula, is such that there would be countless quasi-states.
The absurdity of claiming Turkey’s operation is a war or invasion against Kurds as an ethnicity is compounded by the fact that Turkey contains the largest population of Kurds in the world – around 15 million. In the last Turkish General Election, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), representing a sizeable segment of Turkey’s Kurdish population, won more than 10% of parliament.
There is indeed systemic disadvantage and even oppression that Kurdish people have suffered in Turkey—which is of little surprise considering modern Turkey’s secularist, nationalist underpinnings. However, it would be simply unjust to ignore the recent initiatives (under the AK Party) to try to address grievances and politically enfranchise Kurdish communities, and end Turkish-Kurdish conflict, whilst attempting to address the historic economic disadvantages afforded to majority-Kurdish areas in the South-East of the country. It is difficult to reconcile between Kurdish political assimilation and economic development on one hand, and a desire to ‘fight the Kurds’ as an ethnic community, on the other.
Last but not least, it is an affront to the Kurdish people to label an offensive against the PKK as one against “The Kurds”. If nothing else, it promulgates the narrative that the groups (SDF/YPG) acknowledged as having carried out US-coalition-augmented war crimes, including forced displacements, kidnapping, and mass home demolitions akin to ISIS, are actually the generality of the Kurds. The ‘sympathetic’ narrative supposed by some is thus not so sympathetic after all.