Monday, July 27, 2020

Islamic Teaching Prohibits the Conversion of Churches Into Mosques


According to the Pact of Umar,* which has canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence, caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab came to Jerusalem in 637 after the conquest of Jerusalem and toured the city with Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem. During the tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the time for prayer came, and despite Sophronios's offer to Umar to pray inside the church, Umar chose to pray outside. According to Islamic tradition, the caliph's reason for declining to pray there was because in the future Muslims might say that Umar prayed here and use it as an excuse to build a mosque there. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to build a mosque there. So Umar went outside the church, picked up a stone and threw it at a distance. He offered his prayers at the spot where the stone fell. And as he predicted, later when the Ayyubids reached that region, they built a mosque at that same spot where Umar ibn al-Khattab had offered the prayers, known today as the Mosque of Umar. Patriarch Sophronios, appreciating the caliph's intelligence, gave the keys of the church to him. Unable to refuse it the caliph gave it to a family of Muslims from Medina and asked them to open the church and close it; the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre still remain with the Muslim family to this day.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Turkish President Erdogan Has Officially Signed a Decree Turning Hagia Sophia Into a Mosque


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree on Friday to formally declare Hagia Sophia a mosque, mere minutes after Turkey’s administrative court annulled a 1934-dated decision that paved the way for the use of the 15-century-old structure as a museum.

Erdogan’s decree cited the Council of State’s verdict as the basis of his move for the transfer of the powers concerning the use of the Hagia Sophia to the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).

Turkish daily Hurriyet reports that crowds were observed to be gathered in front of the Hagia Sophia after news broke out on the status change.





Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: "The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will turn millions of Christians around the world against Islam"


On June 30, 2020 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in his sermon for the feast of the Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles, in the Church of the Twelve Apostles at Feriköy, addressed the issue of the Turkish government wanting to reconvert Hagia Sophia into a house of worship for Muslims only and no longer list it as a museum. Among other things he said:

'The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a widely discussed topic. In the context of the various discussions that have taken place about this subject, our Modesty has repeatedly expressed the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its spiritual children all over the world. In 2016, we even sent a Letter to the then Director of Religious Affairs, Prof. Mehmet Görmez, to whom we expressed our concern for the proposed alteration of the status of Hagia Sophia and we underlined that this unique monument obtained sacred value for both monotheistic religions, because it had served as a place of the worship of God for 900 years for the Christians and for 500 years for the Muslims. We concluded that Letter by saying that we consider as detrimental, Hagia Sophia, which, due to its dedication to the Wisdom of God is a point of encounter and a source of fascination for the faithful of both religions, to become, in the 21st century, a cause of confrontation and conflict.

Friday, June 26, 2020

On the Demonization of Yoga in the Orthodox Church


By Metropolitan Konstantinos of Singapore and South Asia 
(Ph.D in Sociology)

"Yoga". An attention-grabbing issue. With conflicting views and arguments. It makes ratings and causes disagreements on television. The presenters of the shows rub their hands. Proponents present it as a panacea for the human body and soul. On the contrary, critics accuse it of being presented in an attractive wrapper but with dark and occult content.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Mysticism (3 of 3)


...continued from part two.

Eastern Orthodox Mysticism

Two great artesian wells of mystical experience, upon which Orthodox Byzantine mysticism drew in its first phase, were Saint Gregory of Nyssa (335/340-394) and the monk Evagrios Pontikos (345-399). The former stressed that the soul can reach Him, Who is beyond any intellectual concept whatsoever, in the “bright darkness” and also defined the mystical experience as union with God in love. Evagrios placed the nous, the organ of direct understanding, at the center of mysticism.

In the 5th century, works attributed to Makarios formed a new source of inspiration for Orthodox Christian mysticism, underlining the concept that the center of the human person lies in the heart. Under the influence of Neo-Platonic philosophy, Evagrios saw the person as a nous imprisoned in matter and therefore held that the body played no part in the spiritual life. The “Makarian” texts, imbued with Biblical thought, view the person as a single whole. The basis of the mysticism which they represent is the incarnation of the Word. So unceasing prayer does not lead to the liberation of the spirit from the bonds of the flesh, but brings people into the eschatological reality of the kingdom of God with the whole of their existence - spirit and body.