Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh

Hagia Sophia used to be a Church. Then it was made into a Mosque. Then it became a museum. Now it’s become a mosque again. Each change happened in order to make a political point.

4 thoughts on “Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh

  1. For anyone who has never visited Istanbul, Hagia Sophia should obviously be top of the list of sites to visit, followed by a long list of mosques and palaces that you’ll find in all the guide books. But I’d also like to recommend a couple of places that aren’t normally on the tourist list.

    St. Saviour at Chora is one of the last remaining examples of Byzantine Church art that is almost intact. It gives a splendid, if tiny, glimpse of what Hagia Sophia must have looked like at its height.

    There are also some magnificent underground cisterns, whose scale and architecture are simply stunning, particularly when you consider that these were primarily used as water reservoirs.


  2. This is the danger with religion. Power mad lunatics hi-jacking religion and using it fool and terrorise the population. Erdogan, Putin, Khomeni, Trump, Modi. The list is long and depressing.


  3. I was glad to hear Mona acknowledge that politics & religion are often intertwined.
    Having done so, her only route to separating her IMF-ism from worldly dealings is to talk of the personal nature of her belief… which seems to be different for everyone. Individually, there exist billions of IMFs – and that can’t be allowed.
    This is why people gather in groups; to reassure themselves (and others, no doubt) that they’re all talking to the same version of an IMF. And gathering in groups means the ability to affect the outside world by, er, getting involved in politics. Round & round we go.


    1. I agree with that, DD. Mona had a go at finessing the point, asserting that real worship entails learning from, and empathy with, other worshippers of gods (nothing about the ‘nones’); but even if this is true for her (and I’m sure it is), it isn’t for 99% of the bums on pews (or knees on prayer-mats). People go to church or mosque to be reinforced in their certainties, not to be invited to question them.


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