The History of Islam in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the world’s most populous cities with a population of over 14 million people. Istanbul is rich in history, from the rise of the Greek empire and the establishment of Byzantium to the change in culture from Grecian to Roman and the establishment of Constantinople until the 20th century. With all of these changes in culture and religion, it is useful to know how Islam has changed in this region of the world.

Islam in Constantinople

Throughout Istanbul’s diverse history, various things have been changed and implemented due to the cultural changes. Without a doubt, the most populous religious demographic is Islam. In Istanbul, the first mosque that was built lies in the district of Kadikoy on the eastern side of the city. It was built roughly 100 years before the western side of Constantinople. The first mosque built on the western side of Constantinople was in Rumelian Castle in 1452 however, the first mosque to be built in the entire city was in 1458.

The surge of Islam came predominantly from the Ottoman Empire and when the Ottoman Turks crossed the Bosphorus in the Fall of Constantinople. After this, the Ottomans began to dominate the city and famous mosques such as the Suleymaniye Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Istanbul, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, which is also commonly known as the Blue Mosque.

Presence of the Ottoman Caliphate

For over 400 years, Constantinople was noted as being the seat of the Islamic Caliphate – essentially the ‘capital city’ of the Ottoman Caliphate. The Ottoman sultan and caliphate Selim I, in 1517, decided to expand his empire and eventually took control of the Mamluk Sultanate. This resulted in the Ottoman sultan becoming the defender of the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

With this increasing strength of the Ottoman Empire, they generally became to be viewed as ‘leaders’ of the Islamic world. This was generally the case up until the abolition of the Ottoman Empire in 1924.

Islam in Modern-Day Istanbul

In the present day, Islam is still a dominant presence in Istanbul. The majority of Muslims in Istanbul and even Turkey as a whole are members of the Sunni branch. Around 90% of all Sunni Muslims follow the Hanafi school of Islamic thought, where the remaining Sunni Muslims follow the Shafi’i school.

Over the passing centuries, Turkey has changed quite considerably. In 1924, the first President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk put in place a series of political, social, and cultural reforms that would eventually turn a previous Ottoman Empire into a secular nation. However, over 90 years later, Turkey isn’t strictly secular – there are still some religious influences.

Istanbul has an amazing historical background and fantastic culture. That’s why at Hajj and Umra Express, we provide packages that enable you to explore Istanbul and all of the Islamic buildings, mosques and cultural delights. If you would like to know more, then please contact us today on 08000 141419 and we will be more than happy to help with your enquiry.