Sunday, January 4, 2015


The Conversion of non-Muslim places of worship into mosques occurred primarily during the life of Muhammad and continued during subsequent Islamic conquests and under historical Muslim rule. As a result, numerous Hindu temples, churches, synagogues, the Parthenon and Zoroastrian temples were converted into mosques. Several such mosques in Muslim or ex-Muslim lands have since reverted or become museums, such as the Hagia Sophia in Turkey and numerous mosques in Spain and Israel.

Hagia Sophia, an Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque after the Fall of Constantinople; since 1943 it has been converted into a museum.Hagia Sophia, an Eastern Orthodox church converted into a mosque after the Fall of Constantinople; since 1943 it has been converted into a museum.

Cathedral–Mosque of Córdoba, Built over a pagan worship place, then converted into church and then, the Umayyad Moors built a mosque half of the site, which was then turned into a Christian cathedralCathedral–Mosque of Córdoba, Built over a pagan worship place, then converted into church and then, the Umayyad Moors built a mosque half of the site, which was then turned into a Christian cathedral

Mecca, Saudi ArabiaMecca, Saudi Arabia

In Islamic teaching, the Ka'aba was built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son.
Before the rise of Islam the Ka'aba was revered as a sacred sanctuary and was a site of pilgrimage.". At the time of Muhammad (AD 570–632), his tribe the Quraysh was in charge of the Kaaba, which was at that time a shrine containing hundreds of idols representing Arabian tribal godsand other religious figures. Muhammad earned the enmity of his tribe by claiming the shrine for the new religion of Islam that he preached. He wanted the Kaaba to be dedicated to the worship of the one God alone, and all the idols were evicted. The Black Stone (al-Hajar-ul-Aswad), still present at the Kaaba was a special object of veneration at the site. According to tradition the text of seven especially honored poems were suspended around the Ka'aba. Martin Lings' biography of Muhammad claims that even an image of the Virgin Mary had been displayed in the pagan shrine.
According to Islam, Muhammad's actions were not strictly a conversion but rather a restoration of the mosque established on that site byAbraham, who is considered to be a prophet in Islam. Howerver, outside of Islamic scriptures, there is no historical or archaeological evidence that suggests that Mecca or Ka'aba existed before the 4th century A.D., when immigrants from Yemen settled the area. The Ka'aba thus became known as the Masjid al-Haram, or Sacred Mosque, the holiest site in Islam.

Biblical holy sites
Mosques were regularly established on the places of Jewish or Christian sanctuaries associated with Biblical personalities who were also recognized by Islam. This practice was particularly common in Palestine. The Caliph Umar initially built a small prayer house, which laid the foundation for the later construction of the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, the most sacred site in Judaism, possibly by the Umayyads. The Dome of the Rock, another Muslim mosque, was also built on the Temple Mount which was an abandoned and disused area. Upon the capture of Jerusalem, it is commonly reported that Umar refused to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. for fear that later Muslims would then convert it into a mosque in spite of a treaty guaranteeing its safety.
The mosque of Job in Ash Shaykh Sa'd, Syria, was previously a church of Job. The Herodian shrine of Cave of the Patriarchs, the second most holy site in Judaism, was converted into a church during the Crusades before being turned into a mosque in 1266 and henceforth banned to Jews and Christians. Part of it was restored as a synagogue after 1967 by Israel.

Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples:
The destruction of Hindu temples in India during the Islamic conquest of India occurred from the beginning of Muslim conquest until the end the Mughal Empire throughout the Indian subcontinent.
In his controversial book "Hindu Temples - What Happened to Them", Sita Ram Goel produced a politically contentious list of 2000 mosques that it is claimed were built on Hindu temples. The second volume of the book excerpts from medieval histories and chronicles and from inscriptions concerning the destruction of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples.
In Indonesia, where popular conversion from Hinduism to Islam was more widespread, it is believed that the minaret of the Menara Kudus Mosque, in Java, was originally part of a Hindu temple.

Ram Janmabhoomi: 
Ram Janmabhoomi refers to a tract of land in the North Indian city of Ayodhya which is claimed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Archeological Survey of India (ASI), after conducting excavations at the site reported that prior to 1528, filed a report that stated that a temple stood at this site before the arrival of Mughals who constructed Babri Mosque at its present site.[6] Critics of the report claim that the "presence of animal bones throughout as well as of the use of 'surkhi' and lime mortar" that was found by ASI are all characteristic of Muslim presence, which they claim "rule out the possibility of a Hindu temple having been there beneath the mosque".

A view of the "Janmasthan (Birthplace) Mosque"/ Babri Mosque, 1528-1992A view of the "Janmasthan (Birthplace) Mosque"/ Babri Mosque, 1528-1992

The Sangh Parivaar, along with VHP and the main Indian opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, sought to erect a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at this site. Nobel Laureate novelist V. S. Naipaul has praised Hindu nationalists for "reclaiming India's Hindu heritage". Naipaul added that the destruction of Babri structure was an act of historical balancing and the reclaiming of the Ramjanmabhoomi was a "welcome sign that Hindu pride was re-asserting itself".
The 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica stated that "Rama’s birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site claimed of an earlier temple".
Archaeological excavations at the site by the Archeological Survey of India reported the existence of a 10th century temple. " The report stated that scientific dating indicated human activity at the site as far back to the 17th century BC.
On 30 September 2010, Allahabad High Court ruled that the 2.7 acres disputed land in Ayodhya, on which the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished on December 6, 1992, will be divided into three parts: the site of the Ramlala idol to Lord Ram, Nirmohi Akhara gets Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara, Sunni Wakf Board gets a third.

Krishna Janmabhoomi (Mathura):
The great temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura was built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela during Jahangir’s time at a cost of thirty-three lakhs of rupees. The Dehra of Keshava Rai was one of the most magnificent temples ever built in India and enjoyed veneration of the Hindus throughout the land. Alberuni also states that this temple was approximately 20 times large than the largest mosque he ever saw in his life. Prince Dara Shukoh, who was looked upon by the masses as the future Emperor, had presented a carved stone railing to the temple which was installed in front of the deity at some distance; the devotees stood outside this railing to have ‘darshan’ of Keshava Rai. The railing was removed on Aurangzeb’s orders in October 1666.
The Dehra of Keshava Rai was demolished in the month of Ramzan, 1080 A.H. (13 January – 11 February 1670) by Aurangzeb’s order. “In a short time, by the great exertion of the officers, the destruction of this strong foundation of infidelity was accomplished and on its site a lofty mosque was built at the expenditure of a large sum”. To the author of Maasir-i-‘Alamigiri, the accomplishment of this “seemingly impossible work was an “instance of the strength of the Emperor’s faith”.

Somnath Temple:
A century later the third temple was constructed in red sandstone by the Pratihara king, Nagabhata II.
Soon the temple regained its old glory and wealth, the descriptions of which were carried to the Middle East. In particular, the accounts of the Arab Al Biruni impressed Mahmud of Ghazni. In AD 1025, Ghazni destroyed and looted the temple, killing over 50,000 people who tried to defend it. The defenders included the 90-year-old clan leader Ghogha Rana. Ghazni personally broke the gilded lingam to pieces. He took them back to his homeland and placed them in the steps leading to the newly built Jamiah Masjid, so that they would be stepped upon by those going to the mosque to pray. It is also known that Mahmud of Ghazni slipped on those very stones and died there when he was going to enter the mosque.
Work on the fourth temple was started immediately by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki king Bhima of Patan and the temple was ready by AD 1042. This temple was destroyed in AD 1300. At that time Allaudin Khilji occupied the throne of Delhi and he sent his general, Alaf Khan, to pillage Somnath. The fifth temple was built by King Mahipala of the Chudasama dynasty.
Somnath temple ("today"; as reclaimed by Hindus), Somnath, IndiaSomnath temple ("today"; as reclaimed by Hindus), Somnath, India

Somnath was repeatedly attacked in the succeeding centuries. The last of these attacks was by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in AD 1701. A mosque was built at the site of the temple.
In AD 1783 queen Ahilyabhai Holkar built the sixth temple at an adjacent site. The temple still stands and worship is carried out there. After independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel pledged on November 13, 1947, that the seventh temple would be reconstructed. According to prescribed Hindu rituals, pledges are made by taking holy water in one’s fist. Leaders like Morarji Desai, Dr. Rajendra Prasad (the first President) and Kanhaiyalal Munshi joined in and the work was entrusted to the Sompura Shilpakars, whose ancestors rebuilt each new temple through the ages. The mosque built by Aurangazeb was not destroyed but carefully relocated. In 1951 Dr. Rajendra Prasad performed the consecration ceremony with the words “The Somnath Temple signifies that the power of creation is always greater than the power of destruction.”
The temple construction was completed on December 1, 1995, long after the demise of Sardar Patel. The then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, dedicated it to the nation.
Converted structure at the site of Somnath temple, 1869Converted structure at the site of Somnath temple, 1869

Kashi Viswanath (Benaras/Varanasi) :

Kashi or Varanasi is the most sacred site in Hinduism and the worship of Lord Shiva as Vishveshvara goes back to ancient times. According to the Puranas, every step taken in Kashi Kshetra has the sanctity of making a pilgrimage to a tirtha. Lord Vishvanath is regarded as the protector of Kashi and the belief is that one earns great religious merit by having a vision of the deity after having bathed in the Ganges.The temple was demolished several times by Muslim invaders, and was reconstructed again and again by Hindu kings. After destruction of the original temple on the orders of Mughal emperorAurangzeb's orders, a mosque was built which still stands.

The Gyanvapi Mosque built by Aurangzeb on the original site of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.The Gyanvapi Mosque built by Aurangzeb on the original site of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Kuragala Cave Temple:

Kuragala Cave Temple is an ancient Buddhist holy site in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka which has roots in the preChristian era and declared at the beginning of 20th century as a protected place by the department of archeology of the country.
There is small mosque and a shrine at the place used by Dafthar Jailany for prayer. The mosque and the temple have co-existed since 10th century AD.
Other references:

An inscription at the Quwwat Al-Islam Mosque adjacent to Qutb Minar in Delhi states: "This Jamii Masjid built in the months of the year 587 (hijri) by the Amir, the great, the glorious commander of the Army, Qutb-ud-daula wad-din, the Amir-ul-umara Aibeg, the slave of the Sultan, may God strengthen his helpers! The materials of 27 idol temples, on each of which 2,000,000 Deliwal coins had been spent were used in the (construction of) this mosque".However as the inscription depicts, the mosque was built from the material remnants of Hindu temples which was destroyed by Muslims.
During the reign of Aurangzeb, tens of thousands of temples were desecrated: their facades and interiors were defaced and their murtis (divine images) looted. In many cases, temples were destroyed entirely; in numerous instances mosques were built on their foundations, sometimes using the same stones. Among the temples Aurangzeb destroyed were two that are most sacred to Hindus, in Varanasi and Mathura. In both cases, he had large mosques built on the sites.
Alberuni in his India writes about the famous temple of Multan:
A famous idol of theirs was that of Multan, dedicated to the sun, .. When Muhammad Ibn Alkasim Ibn Almunabbih, conquered Multan, he inquired how the town had become so very flourishing and so many treasures had there been accumulated, and then he found out that this idol was the cause, for there came pilgrims from all sides to visit it. Therefore he thought to build a mosque at the same place where the temple once stood. When then the Karmatians occupied Multan, Jalam Ibn Shaiban, the usurper, broke the idol into pieces and killed its priests. .. When afterwards the blessed Prince Mahmud swept away their rule from those countries, he made again the old mosque the place of the Friday-worship.
An inscription of 1462 Jami Masjid at Malan, in Banaskantha District of Gujarat states: The Jami Masjid was built by Khan-I-Azam Ulugh Khan, who suppressed the wretched infidels. He eradicated the idolatrous houses and mine of infidelity, along with the idols with the edge of the sword, and made ready this edifice. He made its walls and doors out of the idols; the back of every stone became the place for prostration of the believer.
Mughal Emperor Jahangir wrote in his Tujuk-i-Jahangiri:
"I am here led to relate that at the city of Banaras a temple had been erected by Rajah Maun Sing, which cost him the sum of nearly thirty-six laks of five methkaly ashrefies. ...I made it my plea for throwing down the temple which was the scene of this imposture; and on the spot, with the very same materials, I erected the great mosque, because the very name of Islam was proscribed at Banaras, and with God’s blessing it is my design, if I live, to fill it full with true believers".

Zoroastrian temples:
After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Zoroastrian fire temples, with their four axial arch openings, were usually turned into mosques simply by setting a mihrab (prayer niche) on the place of the arch nearest to qibla (the direction of Mecca). This practice is described by numerous Muslim sources; however, the archeological evidence confirming it is still scarce. Zoroastrian temples converted into mosques in such a manner could be found in Bukhara, as well as in and near Istakhr and other Iranian cities.

Intricate stone carvings on the cloister columns at Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, Qutb complex, DelhiIntricate stone carvings on the cloister columns at Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, Qutb complex, Delhi

The ancient synagogue of Katzrin was converted to a mosque in the Mamluk period. It is now a museum in the state of Israel.
After the expulsion of all Jews from Algeria, the Great Synagogue of Oran was confiscated for use as a mosque.

The practice today: 

The conversion of non-Islamic places of worship into mosques has abated since no major territorial acquisitions have been made by Islam in recent times. However, some of the Greek Orthodox churches inTurkey that were left behind by expelled Greeks in 1923 were converted into mosques, and a number of synagogues were confiscated and converted to mosques after the expulsions of the Jews from Arab lands during the 1950s and 60's.
A relatively significant surge in church-mosque conversion followed the 1974 Turkish Invasion of Cyprus. Many of the Orthodox churches in Northern Cyprus have been converted, and many are still in the process of becoming mosques.This practice has sparked considerable contempt in the Greek Cypriotcommunity, and is likely to complicate reconciliation with the Turkish Cypriots.
In Iran, all holy places of the Bahá'í religion have been demolished. The House of the Báb in Shiraz was turned to rubble in 1979, soon after the Islamic Revolution, and a mosque dedicated to the Imam Mahdi was built on the site.
The defunct Hagia Sophia Church in İznik (ancient Nicaea) was re-converted into a mosque on the Eid al-Adha of 2011. The prayer session was attended by the ruling AK Parti deputies as well as an immense Muslim congregation.

The Great Synagogue of Oran in Algeria was confiscated and turned into a mosque.The Great Synagogue of Oran in Algeria was confiscated and turned into a mosque.

Churches and synagogues in non-Islamic countries re-arranged as mosques:

In areas that have experienced Islamic immigration, such as parts of Europe and North America, some church buildings, and those of other religious congregations, that have fallen into disuse have been converted into mosques following a sale of the property.
In London, the Brick Lane Mosque has previously served as a French Protestant chapel and a synagogue.

The Aksa mosque in The Hague, Netherlands, was formerly a synagogue.The Aksa mosque in The Hague, Netherlands, was formerly a synagogue.

Churches of Istanbul: 

Hagia Sophia:
Interior view of the Hagia Sophia, showing Islamic elements on the top of the main dome.Interior view of the Hagia Sophia, showing Islamic elements on the top of the main dome.

(from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya) is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
In 1453 Sultan Mehmed laid siege to Constantinople, driven in part by a desire to convert the city to Islam, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who subsequently ordered the building converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of themosaics were plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added while in the possession of the Ottomans. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey.

Hagia Irene:

Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene (Greek: Ἁγία Εἰρήνη, "Holy Peace", Turkish: Aya İrini), often erroneously rendered in English as St Irene, is a former Eastern Orthodoxchurch located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.
Today, the Church serves mainly as a concert hall for classical music performances, due to its extraordinary acoustic characteristics and impressive atmosphere. Many of the concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festival have been held here every summer since 1980.
Hagia Eirene in 2007Hagia Eirene in 2007

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