Worship Places Converted or Destroyed by Muslims

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Throughout history, Muslims have destroyed worship places of other religions or converted them into mosques. This page summarizes some of the more well known examples of this Islamic practice.

Arab Polytheist worship places


The Ka'aba (the holiest shrine in Islam) was the first of many non-Muslim worship places to be forcibly converted into a mosque. It was originally a pagan place of worship, used by the polytheist Arabs before Muhammad's followers subsequently removed and destroyed everything considered idolatrous while he recited verses from the Qur'an.[1]

Buddhist worship places

Christian worship places

Pantokrator Monastery

The Pantokrator Monastery in Istanbul, Turkey, was looted and converted into the Zeyrek Djami mosque after Constantinople was conquered by the Turks in 1453. The city itself was also looted, its citizens were either slaughtered or enslaved.

St. Sophia Cathedral

The St. Sophia Cathedral (Nicosia/Cyprus) was converted into the Selimiye Mosque in 1570.

St. Nicholas Cathedral

The St. Nicholas Cathedral in Famagusta, Cyprus, was built between the 13th and 14th century AD. In August of 1571, Famagusta was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and the cathedral converted into the Lala Mustafa Pasha mosque, named after Vizier Lala Mustafa Pasha, the conquerer of Cyprus. Lala Mustafa Pasha had General and Governor Marcantonio Bragadin tortured to death after capitulisation of Famagusta. His officers were also killed.

The Church of Saint Ambrose

The church of St Ambrose in the Agios Amvrosios, in the Kyrenia district of Cyprus after the murder or ethnic cleansing of Agios Amvrosios of every inhabitant by the the Turkish Army in 1974.

The Church of Agia Anastasia

Lapithos Cyprus,see above.

The Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) in Istanbul, Turkey, was an Eastern Orthodox church built under the supervision of Byzantine Emperor, Justinian, during the years 532-537 AD, until Constantinople was conquered by the Muslim Turks and the Christian church converted into the Ayasofya Mosque in 1453 AD.[2] This 6th century Byzantine church was used over a thousand years later as a model for many of the Ottoman mosques; including the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (completed 1616 AD), the Şehzade Mosque (completed 1548 AD), the Süleymaniye Mosque (completed 1557 AD), the Rüstem Pasha Mosque (completed 1563 AD), and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque (completed 1580 AD).[3] It remains as a museum today.

The Church of St. John

After the Muslim conquest of 634, The Church of St. John in Damascus, Syria, was converted into a mosque. The current Grand Mosque of Damascus was built in its place sometime between 706 and 715. There still remains a shrine within the mosque which contains the head of John the Baptist.

Jewish worship places

Al Aqsa

The Al Aqsa mosque (Jerusalem/Israel) was build on the roof of the Christian St. Mary basilica on the Temple Mount where previously the Jewish Temple stood, which was destroyed by the romans in 70 AD.

"Analysis of wooden beams and panels removed from the building during renovations in the 1930s shows they are made from Cedar of Lebanon and Cyprus. Radiocarbon dating indicates a large range of ages, some as old as 9th century BC, showing that some of the wood had previously been used in older buildings."[5]

The Tomb of Joseph

In October of 2000, Arabs (Palestinians) destroyed the Tomb of Joseph in Shechem (Nablus) and afterwards tried to convert it into a mosque.

"Within hours, Joseph's Tomb was reduced to a smoldering heap of rubble. Within two days, as an Associated Press dispatch reported, "the dome of the tomb was painted green and bulldozers were seen clearing the surrounding area," as the Palestinian Arabs sought to transform the biblical Joseph's resting place into a Moslem holy site."[6]


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See Also


  1. "Narrated Abdullah bin Masud: Allah's Apostle entered Mecca (in the year of the Conquest) and there were three-hundred and sixty idols around the Ka'ba. He then started hitting them with a stick in his hand and say: 'Truth (i.e. Islam) has come and falsehood (disbelief) vanished. Truly falsehood (disbelief) is ever bound to vanish.' (17.81) 'Truth has come and falsehood (Iblis) can not create anything.' (34.49) " - Sahih Bukhari 6:60:244
  2. Hagia Sophia - ArchNet Digital Library
  3. Holly Hayes - Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - Sacred Destinations, September 19, 2009
  4. Hillenbrand, R. "Masdjid. I. In the central Islamic lands". in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912.
  5. Al-Aqsa Mosque/Construction - Wikipedia
  6. What happened at Joseph's Tomb in October 2000? - Palestine Facts
  7. Adel Darwish - Rene -- Obituary: Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali Hardline cleric known as the `hanging judge' of Iran - The Independent, November 29, 2003