Calligraphic representation of the shahadah

Islam is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God and that Muhammad is the last messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion, with over 1.9 billion followers, and Muslims form 24.4% of the world's population.

Common iconography

Symbol Image History and usage
Crescent (Hilāl)
The crescent appears to have been adopted as an emblem on Islamic military flags from the medieval period, possibly in response to the Crusaders' cross. The Red Crescent has been used as a replacement of the Red Cross as early as in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and was officially adopted in 1929. In Unicode: (U+263D FIRST QUARTER MOON)
Star and crescent
The star and crescent moon was created in Islam by the Umayyads, even though it is commonly associated with the Ottoman Empire, and later came to commonly symbolize Islam, especially in the Western world before attaining more universally Muslim connotations. In Unicode: (U+262A STAR AND CRESCENT)
Means "God" in Arabic and used by Muslims worldwide irrespective of the language spoken. The word written in Islamic calligraphy is widely used as a symbol of Islam in the Muslim world. In Unicode: (U+FDF2 ARABIC LIGATURE ALLAH ISOLATED FORM)
Parts of it are mentioned in the Quran separately, but never in its complete form. Used in hadiths and many historical Muslim and Islamist flags and emblems.
Rub el Hizb
The Rub el Hizb (Islamic Star) is used to facilitate recitation of the Quran. The symbol is also found on a number of emblems and flags especially the state of Fez during the Marinid Sultanate. In Unicode: (U+06DE ۞ ARABIC START OF RUB EL HIZB)
Khatim symbol (Black Star) is known as the seal of Muhammad.
Sujud Tilawah
Used in the Quran to indicate when the reader should perform sujud, the act of low bowing or prostration in worship of God. In Unicode: (U+06E9 ۩ ARABIC PLACE OF SAJDAH)


Further information: Green in Islam


Early Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-coloured flags (generally black or white) for identification purposes, with the exception of the Young Eagle of Muḥammad, which had the shahada inscribed upon it.[1] In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white, or green flag with no markings, writings, or symbolism on it. The Umayyads fought under white and green banners. The Abbasids chose black (blue) and fought with black banners. The Fatimids used a green standard, as well as white. The Saudi Emirate of Diriyah used a white and green flag with the shahada emblazoned on it. Various countries in the Persian Gulf have red flags, as red represents nationalism. The four Pan-Arab colours, white, black, green and red, dominate the flags of Arab states.[2][3]


Black Standard

The Black Standard flag

The Black Standard is one of the flags flown by Muhammad at times of war in Muslim tradition. It was historically used by Abu Muslim in his uprising leading to the Abbasid Revolution in 747 and is also associated with the Abbasid Caliphate. It is also a symbol and is associated with Islamic eschatology (heralding the advent of the Mahdi).[Note 1] The Black Banner, which is different from the flag used by ISIL. Scholars have interpreted ISIL's use of a similar black flag in attempts to their claim to re-establishing a Caliphate.

Other symbols

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Star and crescent

Main article: Star and crescent

The Ottoman flag

The crescent is usually associated with Islam and regarded as its symbol. The crescent and star had been used by royalty in the Sassanid Persian Empire, so it was adopted for similar uses by Umayyad Caliphate Muslims after the Rashidun Caliphate's conquest of the region.[11][12] However, the symbol only came into widespread use after it was associated with the Ottoman Empire, who took it from being the symbol of Constantinople after their takeover of the city.[13][14] By extension from the use in Ottoman lands, it became a symbol also for Islam as a whole, as well as representative of western Orientalism. "Crescent and Star" was used as a metaphor for the rule of the Islamic empires (Ottoman and Persian) in the late 19th century in British literature.[15] This association was apparently strengthened by the increasingly ubiquitous fashion of using the crescent and star symbol in the ornamentation of Ottoman mosques and minarets.[16] By contrast, the majority of religious Islamic publications emphasize that the crescent is rejected "by some Muslim scholars".[17] The "Red Crescent" emblem was adopted by volunteers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as early as 1877 during the Russo-Turkish War; it was officially adopted in 1929.[18]

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, the crescent and star was used in several national flags adopted by its successor states. In 1947, after the independence of Pakistan, flag of Pakistan was white crescent and star with a green background. The crescent and star in the flag of the Kingdom of Libya (1951) was explicitly given an Islamic interpretation by associating it with "the story of Hijra (migration) of our Prophet Mohammed"[19] By the 1950s, this symbolism was embraced by movements of Arab nationalism such as the proposed Arab Islamic Republic (1974).[20]

Rub el Hizb

Further information: Rub el Hizb

The Rub el Hizb is used to facilitate recitation of the Quran. The symbol determines every quarter of Hizb, while the Hizb is one half of a juz'. The symbol is also found on a number of emblems and flags, such as that of the Marinid Sultanate. It was used extensively by the Seljuqs and is also called the Seljuk Star.


Further information: Seal of the Prophets

Seal of the Prophets (Khatim) a title used in the Qur'an and by Muslims to designate Muhammad as the last of the prophets sent by God.


Further information: Shahadah

La ilaha illallah, Muhammadun rasulullah (English translation: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s messenger"). White background with Shahadah written in Islamic calligraphy is currently used as the present-day flag of Afghanistan.

Shahadah is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and part of the Adhan. It reads: "I bear witness that none deserves worship except God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God."

Religious flags with inscriptions were in use in the medieval period, as shown in miniatures by 13th-century illustrator Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti. 14th-century illustrations of the History of the Tatars by Hayton of Corycus (1243) shows both Mongols and Seljuqs using a variety of war ensigns.

The symbolic values of numbers

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See also



  1. ^ The set of aḥādīth which refer to "the black banners from the East" as the sign of the Mahdi were graded ḍaʿīf (weak). Bahari and Hassan 2014, pp. 1–6


  1. ^ It was extracted by at-Ṭabarānī in al-Awsaṭ: Ahmad bin Rashdine narrated that Abdul Ghaffar bin Dawud Saleh al-Harrani said: Hayyan bin Obeidillah told us that Abu Mijlaz Laheq bin Humeid narrated on authority of Ibn Abbas who said: "The flag of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was black and his banner white, written on it: There is no deity but God, and Muḥammad is His Messenger."
  2. ^ Islamic flags Archived 2007-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Saudi Aramco World : Flags of the Arab World
  4. ^ "Surah Al-Insan - 21". Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Surah Ar-Rahman - 76". Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  6. ^ It is reported that Anas said, “The most beloved of colors to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was green.” (Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Awsat)
  7. ^ "Hadith on Clothing - Recommendation to wear white clothing". Faith in Allah. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  8. ^ An-Nasā’ī has narrated in his book al-Sunan al-Kubra, and at-Tirmidhi has narrated on authority of Jaber that Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم entered Makkah with his white banner.
  9. ^ Muwaṭṭaʾ Mālik, Book 57 ḥadīth 2: Malik related to me from his paternal uncle Abu Suhayl ibn Malik from his father that Abu Hurayra said, "Do you think that it [the Hellfire] is red like this fire of yours? It is blacker than tar."
  10. ^ Aḥmad, Abū Dawūd, and an-Nasā’ī in his book al-Sunan al-Kubar have narrated on authority of Yunus bin Obeid, the slave of Muhammad Bin al-Qassem that he said: Muhammad Bin al-Qassem sent me to al-Baraa bin Azeb to ask him about the banner (rāya) of Prophet Muhammad: what is it? He said: "it was a black square from Namira."
  11. ^ mand (2017). "History of the Star and Crescent". steemit. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  12. ^ Al Balushi, Ibrahim (27 February 2021). "The Origin of the 3 Religious Symbols". Medium. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  13. ^ Mictorrani (2021). "The Star-And-Crescent - A Symbol for Islam?". Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  14. ^ Narbaez, Rafael (3 August 2023). "The Star and Crescent - Is the Symbol of Islam Shirk?". mission islam.
  15. ^ e.g. A. Locher, "With Star and Crescent: A Full and Authentic Account of a Recent Journey with a Caravan from Bombay to Constantinople"; Andrew Haggard, "Under Crescent and Star" (1895).
  16. ^ "Mosque and minaret are surounted by crescents; the air glowing over the Golden Horn is, as it were, full of moons." Hezekiah Butterworth, The Zigzag Series (1882), p. 481.
  17. ^ "Many Muslim scholars reject using the crescent moon as a symbol of Islam. The faith of Islam historically had no symbol, and many refuse to accept it." Fiaz Fazli, Crescent magazine, Srinagar, September 2009, p. 42.
  18. ^ Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, "What Is The Significance Of The Crescent Moon In Islam?". Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  19. ^ The symbolism of the star and crescent in the flag of the Kingdom of Libya (1951-1969) was explained in an English language booklet, The Libyan Flag & The National Anthem, issued by the Ministry of Information and Guidance of the Kingdom of Libya (year unknown, cited after Jos Poels at FOTW, 1997) as follows: "The crescent is symbolic of the beginning of the lunar month according to the Muslim calendar. It brings back to our minds the story of Hijra (migration) of our Prophet Mohammed from his home in order to spread Islam and teach the principles of right and virtue. The Star represents our smiling hope, the beauty of aim and object and the light of our belief in God, in our country, its dignity and honour which illuminate our way and puts an end to darkness."
  20. ^ Edward E. Curtis, Black Muslim religion in the Nation of Islam, 1960-1975 (2006), p. 157.