Islamic Religions Tours in Istanbul
Mosques – Sahabe Tombs – Cemeteries – Religious Places Visit In Istanbul
Istanbul Religious Tours are the spiritual activities that you can do in Istanbul and you can learn the culture & religions in our city.
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The established presence of Islam in the region that now constitutes modern Turkey dates back to the latter half of the 11th century, when the Seljuks started expanding into eastern Anatolia. According to religiosity polls, 97.8% of the population identifies as Muslim, and only 2% is non-religious.Most Muslims in Turkey are Sunnis, forming about 73% of the overall Muslim denominations. The remaining Ithna’ashari-Shia denominations consist of the Alevis forming about 10-15% of the Muslim population, Ja’fari community representing 4% of the overall population and an Alawite community with an estimated population of around 1 million which is about 1% of the overall Muslim sects in Turkey .The urban landscape of Istanbul is shaped by many communities.
The most populous major religion is Islam. The first mosque in Istanbul was built in Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon) on the Asian side of the city, which was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1353, a full century before the conquest of Constantinople across the Bosphorus, on the European side. The first mosque on the European side of Istanbul was built inside the Rumelian Castle in 1452.
The first grand mosque which was built in the city proper is the Eyüp Sultan Mosque (1458), while the first imperial mosque inside the city walls was the Fatih Mosque (1470) which was built on the site of the Church of the Holy
Apostles, an important Byzantine church which was originally edificed in the time of Constantine the Great. Many other imperial mosques were built in the following centuries, such as the famous Süleymaniye Mosque(1557) which was ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, and the famous Sultan Ahmed Mosque (1616) which is also known as the “Blue Mosque”for the blue tiles which adorn its interior.Istanbul was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate, between 1517 and 1924. Some of the personal belongings of Muhammad and the earliest caliphs who followed him are today preserved in the Topkapı Palace, the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and in several other prominent mosques of Istanbul.The conquest of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453 enabled the Ottomans to consolidate their empire in Anatolia and Thrace.
The Ottomans later revived the title of caliph during the reign of Sultan Selim. Despite the absence of a formal institutional structure, Sunni religious functionaries played an important political role. Justice was dispensed by religious courts; in theory, the codified system of sharia regulated all aspects of life, at least for the Muslim subjects of the empire. The head of the judiciary ranked directly below the sultan and was second in power only to the grand vizier. Early in the Ottoman period, the office of grand mufti of Istanbul evolved into that of Sheikh ul-Islam(shaykh, or leader of Islam), which had ultimate jurisdiction over all the courts in the empire and consequently exercised authority over the interpretation and application of sharia. Legal opinions pronounced by the Sheikh were considered definitive interpretations.
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Religion In Turkey
Islam is the largest religion of Turkey. Around 90% percent of the population is registered as Muslim, mostly Sunni. The Shia Alevi community, a distinct Muslim sect, makes up 20% of the population. Christians (Oriental Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Jews (Sephardi), who comprise the non-Muslim population have dramatically declined since the early 19th century onwards from 20% to less than 1% today, and are continuing to steadily decline since the year 2000 as well.
Turkey is officially a secular country with no official religion since the constitutional amendment in 1924 and later strengthened in the Kemalist Ideology, alongside the Atatürk’s reforms and the appliance of laïcité by Atatürk at the end of 1937. However, currently all public schools from elementary to high school hold mandatory religion classes which only focus on the Sunni sector of Islam. In these classes, children are required to learn prayers and other religious practices which belong specifically to Sunnism. Thus, although Turkey claims to be a Secular state, the enforcement of secularism in public grade schools is controversial. Its application to join the EU divided existing members, some of which questioned whether a Muslim country could fit in. Turkey accused its EU opponents of favouring a “Christian club”.
Beginning in the 1980s, the role of religion in the state has been a divisive issue, as influential factions challenged the complete secularization called for by Kemalism and the observance of Islamic practices experienced a substantial revival. In the early 2000s, Islamic groups challenged the concept of the secular state with increasing vigor after the Erdoğan government had calmed the issue in 2003. The Turkish Government states that between 90% – 95% of the population belong to the Islamic Majority, but recent polls do not concur. In the most recent poll conducted by Sabanci University, 83% of Turks revealed they were Muslim. Of that, 16% said they were “extremely religious”, 39% saying they were “somewhat religious”, and 32% saying they were “not religious”. 3% of Turks declare themselves with no religious beliefs. In addition, only 13% of Turks have a favourable opinion of Christians, and 10% of Jews.
Islam is the religion with the largest community of followers in the country, where most of the population is nominally Muslim, of whom over 75% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Over 20% of the Muslim population is Shia Alevi. There is also a small Bektashi community belonging to a Sufi order of Islam that is indigenous to Turkey, but also has numerous followers in the Balkan peninsula. More Recent Poll numbers show that Islam in Turkey is slowly declining. Islam arrived in the region that comprises present-day Turkey, particularly the eastern provinces of the country, as early as the 7th century AD. The mainstream Hanafi school of Sunni Islam is largely organized by the state, through the Religious Affairs Directorate, which was established in 1924 following the abolition of the Caliphate and controls all mosques and Muslim clerics, and is officially the highest religious authority in the country.
As of today, there are thousands of historical mosques throughout the country which are still active. Notable mosques built in the Seljuk and Ottoman periods include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, the Yeşil Mosque in Bursa, the Alaeddin Mosque and Mevlana Mosque in Konya, and the Great Mosque in Divriği, among many others. Large mosques built in the Republic of Turkey period include the Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara and the Sabancı Mosque in Adana.
The mainstream Hanafite school of Sunni Islam is largely organised by the state, through the Diyanet Isleri Baskanligi (Religious Affairs Directorate), which controls all mosques and Muslim clerics. The directorate is criticized by some Alevi Muslims for not supporting their beliefs and instead favoring the Sunni faith.
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (Patrik) is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey, and also serves as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox churches throughout the world. The Armenian Patriarch is the head of the Armenian Church in Turkey, while the Jewish community is led by the Hahambasi, Turkey’s Chief Rabbi, based in Istanbul. All these groups share the same criticism of the directorate.