Turkey’s top religious official has defended brandishing a “sword of con-quest” while delivering his first sermon from Hagia Sophia’s marble pulpit after its conversion into a mosque.
“Preaching in this way [with a sword] sends a message about the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mos-que on the one hand and of conquest on the other,” Ali Erbaº, the country’s head of the Religious Affairs Dire-ctorate (Diyanet) defiantly declared.
“Reading sermons with a sword is a common practice in our history and tradition,” Erbaº stated. “When Istanbul was conquered, the first Friday sermon in Hagia Sophia was read with a sword and continued for 481 years,” the religious leader tweeted.
“The tradition of the khutbah (sermon) with the sword has been practiced in some mosques in our country,” he added. Erbaº held the sword all through his 19-minute sermon on July 24. The sword has three crescents engraved on it representing the three continents that were the object of the Ottoman conquest.
The “conquest verse” from the Koran (48:1) is also inscribed on the sword. It reads: “Indeed, we have given you, [O Muhammad], a clear conqu-est.”
Two green flags were also hung on the minbar (pulpit) of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.
Speaking to Church Militant, eminent Islamic historian Robert Spencer warned that “the Pope and all Christians should take careful note of the words of Ali Erbaº, particularly about Muhammad’s prophecy that Muslims would conquer Constantinople.”