Research Article

DOI :10.26650/jos.1161965   IUP :10.26650/jos.1161965    Full Text (PDF)

The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry

Abdelkarim Amin Mohamed SolimanSenem Ceylan

Hagia Sophia means sacred wisdom in Ancient Greek and had been used as a museum in the recent past. Currently it has been given the status of a place of worship with the official name of Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi [Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque], and it has an important place in the religious cultures of Christianity and Islam. This patriarchal cathedral was built by Justinian I between 532-537 AD as a basilica and had served as the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church and its Ecumenical Patriarchy until Fatih Sultan Mehmet Khan conquered Istanbul in 1453, when it gained the status of a mosque after the first Friday prayer he performed with his army on the third day of the conquest. Mehmet II dedicated the mosque with this first congregational prayer in Hagia Sophia and established the Fatih Complex and the Hagia Sofia Waqf. Thus, Hagia Sophia not only had a symbolic meaning and value in terms of indicating the power of the Ottoman State and the victory of the Muslims against the West but also became a sacred symbol in the hearts of Muslims. As a natural consequence of this, the reconquering of Hagia Sophia by Westerners became a goal to be reached. Being sacred to both Orthodox Christianity and Islam, Hagia Sophia has been equally important to both Christians and Muslims in terms of its location and as a cultural heritage site. From the conquest of Istanbul to the present day, first the Ottoman Empire and then the Republic of Türkiye made great sacrifices and efforts to protect Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia, which had been converted from a basilica into a mosque with the conquest of Istanbul and then into a museum with the Decree of the Council of Ministers published in 1934, was reconverted in 2020 into a mosque with Presidential Decree No. 2729 and left open for worship. This study discusses the image of Hagia Sophia in modern Arabic poetry and examines the architectural features of Hagia Sophia, the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and its conversion into a mosque, the elegies written for Hagia Sophia during World War I, and Hagia Sophia’s status changes.

DOI :10.26650/jos.1161965   IUP :10.26650/jos.1161965    Full Text (PDF)

Modern Arap Şiirinde Ayasofya

Abdelkarim Amin Mohamed SolimanSenem Ceylan

Kadim Grekçe’de Kutsal Bilgelik anlamı taşıyan, yakın geçmişte müze olarak kullanılmış ve günümüzde Ayasofya-i Kebir Cami-i Şerifi resmi ismi ile ibadethane statüsü kazandırılmış olan Ayasofya, Hristiyanlık ve İslam dini kültürlerince önemli bir konumdadır. 532- 537 yılları arasında I. Justinianus tarafından bazilika planlı inşa ettirilen bu patrik katedrali, 1453 yılında Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han’ın İstanbul’u fethedip, fethin 3. günü ordusuyla birlikte kıldığı ilk Cuma namazı sonrasında cami statüsü kazanmasına kadarki sürede Ortodoksların ve Papalığın merkezi konumundaydı. II. Mehmet, Ayasofya’da kılınan ilk namazla birlikte camiyi vakfetmiş ve Fatih Külliyesi ile Ayasofya-i Kebir Vakfı’nı kurmuştur. Böylece Ayasofya; Osmanlı devletinin gücünü, Müslümanların batıya karşı zaferini işaret etmesi bakımından simgesel bir anlam ve değer taşımasının yanı sıra, Müslümanların gönüllerinde de kutsal bir sembol haline gelmiştir. Bunun doğal bir sonucu olarak Ayasofya’nın yeniden batılılar tarafından geri kazanılması varılacak bir hedef haline dönüşmüştür. Her iki dinin de kutsalı olmuş olan Ayasofya, konumu ve kültürel bir miras oluşu bakımından da hem Hristiyanlar hem de Müslümanlar için aynı derecede önem taşımaktadır. İstanbul’un fethinden günümüze kadar, önce Osmanlı Devleti ve akabinde Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devleti, Ayasofya’yı korumak için büyük bir özveri ve çaba göstermişlerdir. İstanbul’un fethiyle camiye, daha sonra 1934 yılında yayımlanan Bakanlar Kurulu Kararnamesi ile müzeye dönüştürülen Ayasofya, 2729 sayılı Cumhurbaşkanlığı Kararnamesi ile yeniden camiye dönüştürülerek ibadete açılmıştır. Bu çalışmada modern Arap şiirinde Ayasofya imgesi ele alınmış olup, Ayasofya’nın mimari özellikleri, Fatih Sultan Mehmet’in İstanbul’u fethi ve Ayasofya’yı camiye dönüştürmesi, Birinci Dünya Savaşı’nda Ayasofya için yazılan mersiyeler, Ayasofya’nın değişen statüsü irdelenmiştir. 


The construction of the first church on the site of Hagia Sophia was initiated during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I and inaugurated during the reign of Constantine II. This monument was known as Magna Ecclesia [The Great Church] and was exposed to serious damage in the aftermath of a great fire. The building known as the Second Hagia Sophia was built by the command of Emperor Theodosius II following the design of the first one. It was opened for worship in 415 AD. The second structure, having been built in the same basilica format with a wooden roof similar to the first, was severely damaged by the rebels during the Nika Revolt against Emperor Justinian in 532 AD. The building that is known today as the Third Hagia Sophia, was built at the command of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as an even larger and more magnificent building between 532-537 AD. Throughout this process, Hagia Sophia revealed itself as having an important central position in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchy. In this respect, besides being a religious center, Hagia Sophia has always been an institution with an iconic meaning.

The conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror was one of the most important turning points, not only for Turkish and Islamic history but also for humanity as a whole. Through this conquest, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. The centuries-old tradition of the Ottoman Empire was to have the adhan [call for prayer] called from the greatest temple of the conquered place following the conquest and to perform the Friday prayer there. In this respect, Hagia Sophia became a symbol of the conquest of Istanbul. Also as a symbol of this conquest, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror placed his banner at the altar located in the middle of Hagia Sophia, shot an arrow towards the dome, and recited himself the first adhan there, thus marking the conquest of Istanbul. Afterwards, prostrated in gratitude and prayed two rak’ahs,  thus converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque. With the conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror received the title of Caesar of the Roman Empire and gained possession of everything belonging to the Byzantine dynasty. In so doing, he also dedicated Hagia Sophia as a mosque with the first prayer in Hagia Sophia and established the Fatih Complex as well as the Hagia Sophia Waqf. He also bequeathed that Hagia Sophia be preserved forever and stipulated the continuity of its identity as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1934 with the decision from the Council of Ministers. However, after being used as a museum for 85 years, the 10th Chamber of the Council of State voided the decision from the 1934 Council of Ministers. Hagia Sophia was restored into a mosque with the Presidential decision dated July 10, 2020 and reopened for worship with the Friday prayer on Friday, July 24.

After this historical decision, Arab poets showed their support through their poems, seeing this transformation as a survival of the power of Islam as well as proof and a symbol of Muslim’s return to their glorious history. In addition, the change that took place with this Presidential decision is important in that it represents not only how the Turkish nation’s dream has come true but also that of all Muslims and their years of longing. Writers, poets, historians, and men of letters have written works for Hagia Sophia, which has a special place in the hearts of Muslim Arabs. These works attempt to express the image of Hagia Sophia within Muslims’ cultural memory.

This study examines the poems written about Hagia Sophia, one of the most famous places of worship for both Muslims and Christians. The poems have been selected from the works of modern Arab poets. This study tackles the subjects of the magnificence of Hagia Sophia in the poems, the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, the excitement and happiness of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the elegies written for Hagia Sophia during World War I, and the reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque on July 10, 2020. The poems were selected using the screening method.

One of the prominent themes of Hagia Sophia in Arabic poetry is its magnificence and fascination in terms of architecture. While describing its structural features, Hagia Sophia is noteworthily described as an immortal masterpiece. Using this theme, Ahmed Shawqi in particular expresses in his poems that Hagia Sophia is a symbol of devotion to religion, one that reflects power and might.

Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror’s conquest of Hagia Sophia has a particularly important place in Arabic poetry. In these poems, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror is depicted as a good commander who is devoted to his religion, has an elevated soul, does not oppress anyone, does not hold grudges, and treats those of his enemies who surrender with mercy.

In the poems of the Saudi poet Abdurrahman al-Ashmawi praising the conquest, the poet views Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror’s conquest of Istanbul as a source of pride and states that this blessed transformation occurred based on other historical events. Meanwhile, the Moroccan poet Îyhum praises Hagia Sophia as a mosque that has become an Islamic lantern where the Qur’an is read and the call to prayer echoes.

Hagia Sophia transformation into a museum as well as the events that took place during World War I have been handled and processed together in Arabic poems under the themes of a source of sadness, disappointment, deprivation of the Qur’an from the adhan, and alienation from religion. Arabic poems emphasize how the conquest has been revived and a new joy been brought to a feast-like celebration through the reopening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque. 

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Mohamed Soliman, A.A., & Ceylan, S. (2022). The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry. Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(41), 1-14.


Mohamed Soliman A A, Ceylan S. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry. Journal of Oriental Studies. 2022;0(41):1-14.


Mohamed Soliman, A.A.; Ceylan, S. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry. Journal of Oriental Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 41, p. 1-14, 2022.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Mohamed Soliman, Abdelkarim Amin, and Senem Ceylan. 2022. “The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 41: 1-14.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Mohamed Soliman, Abdelkarim Amin, and Senem Ceylan. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 41 (Dec. 2023): 1-14.

Harvard: Australian Style

Mohamed Soliman, AA & Ceylan, S 2022, 'The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry', Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 41, pp. 1-14, viewed 11 Dec. 2023,

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Mohamed Soliman, A.A. and Ceylan, S. (2022) ‘The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry’, Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(41), pp. 1-14. (11 Dec. 2023).


Mohamed Soliman, Abdelkarim Amin, and Senem Ceylan. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry.” Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 41, 2022, pp. 1-14. [Database Container],


Mohamed Soliman AA, Ceylan S. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry. Journal of Oriental Studies [Internet]. 11 Dec. 2023 [cited 11 Dec. 2023];0(41):1-14. Available from: doi: 10.26650/jos.1161965


Mohamed Soliman, AbdelkarimAmin - Ceylan, Senem. The Hagia Sophia In Modern Arabic Poetry”. Journal of Oriental Studies 0/41 (Dec. 2023): 1-14.


Published Online28.10.2022


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