Mosques, Churches and Sacred Places

Mosques, Churches and Sacred Places

We had an interesting discussion come out of a recent blog post that was all about the use of images behind song words. Someone wrote that they had been really disturbed by hearing the song ‘Sacred Place’ being sung with a picture of a mosque shown at the same time – it was from a video clip put together for a trip to Israel.
Mark Jaffrey (a worship leader in multi cultural Cairo) replied as follows:

“I’m guessing cbd is referring to the “dome of the rock” mosque on the site of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. My issue with this comment is that Jerusalem IS a sacred place for members of the world’s three monotheistic religions who all count themselves as children of Abraham, and Jerusalem is a crazy, intense meld of races, ethnicities, religion and politics. It’s also the city Jesus prayed for and loved and it is still a sacred place no matter what has been done there or built there in the name of God since Jesus’s ascension.

Personally I wince and feel much more sick when I think of all the horror that we have inflicted on the Jews in the name of Jesus, than when I see a mosque in an Muslim neighbourhood.”

This all got me reflecting on a recent trip I had made to Istanbul in Turkey. We joined the trails of tourists visiting the world famous Blue Mosque and also a number of other mosques in the city. What was really interesting both with Hagia Sophia and the Kariye Mosque, formerly the Chora Church of Istanbul, is that the buildings were originally designed as churches. I don’t remember the detail of the history lesson now but basically the original Christian paintings on the walls had been covered over centuries ago with Islamic art. As the years have progressed, much of the new Islamic artwork has degraded revealing some quite stunning Christian art underneath. It seemed amazing to us that in a place where Muslims go to worship, there are stories told through images of Jesus, the Saints and many other Biblical characters.

In Hagia Sophia in the direction of Mecca, positioned high in the rafters well above the words of the Koran (see the black and gold circles in the photo above), is a painting of the Madonna and child (which I’ve shown below).

If you are interested in reading more of the history and seeing (or purchasing) some beautiful watercolours of the buildings then take a look at this website run by an artist we came across who lives in the city

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