A Turkish court ruled today that Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia will be converted from a world-famous museum back into a mosque. The change has long been sought after by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who signed a decree on Friday opening the building for worship and paving the way for its reconversion to a mosque. This change has also been one of President Erdoğan’s campaign pledges during the Istanbul municipal elections last year. 
President Erdoğan declared the Hagia Sophia Mosque open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey’s founding statesman, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was illegal.
President Erdoğan announced the reopening of the iconic cultural site to Muslim worship one hour after the court ruling was revealed, despite international warnings not to change its status.
The decision signed by President Erdoğan said:
“The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque … to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship.”
After an 85-year hiatus, the Permanent Foundations Service to Historical Artifacts and Environment Association, an NGO in Istanbul, had filed a petition at the Council of State seeking annulment of the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a museum.
The court issued its ruling – that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and was presented to the community as a mosque – after it heard the parties’ arguments at a hearing on 2nd July.
The decision ruled that Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque” and that the society the mosque was bestowed to cannot be prevented from exercising its rights and benefits through the age-old immovable property that the foundation left to it.
The court concluded that it would not legally be possible to use the building as anything other than a mosque, as defined in the deed.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=Islam21c&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1281610013933535235&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.islam21c.com%2Fnews-views%2Fhagia-sophia-turkey-reconverts-6th-century-iconic-landmark-back-into-a-mosque%2F&siteScreenName=Islam21c&theme=light&widgetsVersion=9066bb2%3A1593540614199&width=550px
Hagia Sophia had been used as a church for 916 years under the Byzantine Empire but was later converted into a mosque in 1453 by Sultan Mehmed II, after the Ottoman Empire conquered Istanbul.
The building then underwent necessary restoration work to emulate the characteristic features of mosques, including the addition of minarets for the call to prayer.
It was then changed to a museum in 1935 by then-president Atatürk under the Turkish Republic, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
However, in recent years, Turkish leaders, including President Erdoğan, had called for it to be used as a mosque again, enjoining the recitation of the Qur’ān in its vicinity on special occasions.