Leading the first Friday prayer performed in Hagia Sophia 86 years later, Ali Erbas, the head of Turkey’s top religious authority, read the khutbah [sermon] with a sword in his hand on the pulpit.
The ritual of reading the khutbah with a sword, which is a tradition dating back to the Ottoman era, has different meanings depending on the way the sword is handled and where it is used. The sword held in the right hand reveals “its intention to use it” and aims to scare the enemy, according to the narratives.
The sword held in the left hand, like in the sermon, aims to give confidence to the allies. This tradition will continue in every Friday prayer in Hagia Sophia, said Erbas, Hurriyet Daily News.
The floor of the historical structure is covered with carpet, in protection of the historical texture and architecture of the building. The omphalion (navel), the holiest part of the site for Orthodox Christians, will be hidden with a prayer carpet.
Paintings and mosaics depicting Christian figures in the ancient building also will be covered with curtains during Muslim prayers.
Curtains will be opened for those who want to see the icons by visiting the historical building outside of prayer times.