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Afghanistan

Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jomhoriyat, Jomhū

Last modified: 2014-02-05 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | islamic republic of afghanistan | coat of arms (mosque) | shahada |
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[Afghanistan (Transitional Authority)] 2:3; image by Juan Manuel Villascan
Flag adopted 4 January 2004.
Date on flag: 1298 = 1919 C.E.

See also:


Description

I visited the Afghan Embassy in Tokyo today. They confirmed that they first hoisted a new flag on December 7th 2004 at President Karzai's inauguration ceremony and introduced the flag as the new national flag of the newly born Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since then. The details of the coat-of-arms and flag are regulated in Chapter I, Article no. 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan adopted on January 4th 2004 and signed by Karzai as President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan at that time on January 26th 2004.

Differences from the flag of the Transitional Authority:

  • flag proportion: 1:2 changes to 2:3
  • 1348 (1929 C.E., year of coronation of Mohammed Nadir Shah) to 1298 (i.e. 1919 C.E., year of independence declaration from Great Britain)
  • a rising sun composed of 9 long and 8 short rays is added between the shahada and the takbir (Allahu akbar)
Jaume Ollé made the flag and arms images based on the new arms image given by the Embassy. Chapter I, Article no. 19 of the Constitution reads as follows:
The Afghan flag is made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right perpendicularly. The width of every colored piece is equal to half of its length. The national emblem is located in the center of the flag. The national emblem of the state of Afghanistan is composed of Mehrab and Pulpit in white color. Two flags are located on its sides. In the upper-middle part of the insignia the sacred phrase of There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet and Allah is Great are placed along with a rising sun. The word Afghanistan and the year 1298 (solar calendar) are located in the lower part of the insignia. The emblem is encircled with two branches of wheat. The law shall regulate the use of national flag and emblem.

Nozomi Kariyasu, 12 January 2005

The Afghan Government has created a draft version of the new Constitution for this nation. It will still be called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Source: http://www.constitution-afg.com/draft_const.htm :

"Article Nineteen Ch. 1, Art. 19
The Afghan flag is made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right perpendicularly.
The width of every colored piece is equal to half of its length. The national insignia is located in the center of the flag. The national insignia of the state of Afghanistan is composed of Mehrab and pulpit in white color. Two flags are located on its two sides. In the upper-middle part of the insignia the sacred phrase of “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet, and Allah is Great” is placed, along with a rising sun. The word “Afghanistan” and year 1298 (solar calendar) is located in the lower part of the insignia. The insignia is encircled with two branches of wheat. The law shall regulate the use of national flag and emblem."

To put it in simple terms, the design of the bars is vertically black, red, and green. The coat of arms is white, not gold as reported several times. The seal is not that much different, but the wording at the bottom of a scroll is gone. The nation name and the rising sun is new, and I have no idea if the words "God is Great" is going under the Muslim statement of faith, or next to it. A image should be provided soon.
Zachary Harden, 3 November 2003

Actually, the name of the state is what is now on the scroll; I read the description as meaning that this will be replaced by the word Afghanistan alone. And I'm not altogether sure that the rising sun is new; mightn't the rays emanating from the scroll and embracing the date below the mihrab be the rising sun to which the draft refers? Since the rest of the emblem remains as is, it's a good bet that the Takbir (God is Great) will continue to appear beneath the creed. The Dari and Pashtu version of the draft says it will have "the word 'Afghanistan'", same spelling in both languages.
Joe McMillan, 4 November 2003

The colours used on the flag are Red: Pantone 186 C 100%; Green: Pantone 3425 C 100%; Black: Process Black C 100%; White: Process Black C 0%.
Juan Manuel Villascan, 6 January 2006

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC believed the flag to be. For Afghanistan, PMS 348 green, 485 red, and black. The vertical version is simply the flag turned through 90 degrees, the black on top.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012

 Article Nineteen (on page 8 at http://www.afghanembassy.com.pl/afg/images/pliki/TheConstitution.pdf) describes the flag:
"The flag of Afghanistan shall be made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right vertically. The width of every color shall be half of its length, and at the center of which the national insignia shall be located. The national insignia of Afghanistan shall be comprised of an emblem and a pulpit in white color—at the two corners of which are two flags, inscribed in the top middle the holy phrase “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet, and Allah is Great.” This shall be inscribed and superseded on rays of a rising sun, and in its lower part, the year 1919 in the solar calendar, and the word “Afghanistan” encircled on two sides by sheaves of wheat shall be inscribed. The law shall regulate the use of the flag and insignia."
Zoltan Horvath, 18 January 2014


Reported variations in the appearance of the flag

With a flag as complex as the Afghan, and its recent history, it is no surprise that several variations are found in actual manufactured flags.  These include:

  • the coat of arms in white or gold, and in some case shades between, even in the same photograph (e.g. this Xinhua Agency photo of Karzai and Bush).
  • the coat of arms may be missing.
  • the flags on the side of mosque as red-white-red, or in some cases all white, or even in black-red-green (see this BBC photo)
  • the flags coloured gold-red-gold with horizontal hatching
  • the coat of arms may extend out of the red stripe or be constrained within it.
  • the detail of the leaves in the wreath vary - shown on this page as leaves the colour of the field behind, and spaces between the leaves white, other representations show solid white leaves with colour of field behind.
  • the temple can be shown either in a three-dimensional format or showing only the front face.
  • the rising sun can be found either between the Shahada text and the phrase takbir, or exactly above the temple but below both inscriptions.
  • The calligraphy of the text 'Afghanistan' in the scroll, with the final nun appearing above the previous group of
    letters, rather than to the left.
  • the ratio of the flag can be 2:3 or longer, e.g., 1:2, or even 1:3 or more (seen at a border post at Chaman)

Patrick Fisher, 25 July 2005, André Coutanche, 26 September 2005, Juan Manuel Villascan, 6 January 2006, Klaus-Michael Schneider, 3 July 2009, Jan-Patrick Fischer, 26 January 2010, Jonathan Dixon, 3 May 2012

At the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai he was addressing parliament. Behind him were about a dozen Afghan national flags with the central emblem in gold. However, to the left of the video, is an Afghan flag that has the white arms and also the arms overlapping over all 3 stripes. The flags behind President Karzai have the golden arms and they are about 1/2 the size of the red stripe. The ratio seems to be 1x2 for the golden armed flags, but I cannot tell with the white armed flags.
Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8367293.stm
James Dignan and Zachary Harden, 19 November 2009


Coat of Arms

[Coat-of-Arms (Afghanistan) in colour] image by Jaume Ollé, coloured by Eugene Ipavec, 11 August 2005, based on www.af

The coloured version of the coat of arms, as shown on www.af

Esteban Rivera, 11 August 2005

[Coat-of-Arms (Afghanistan)] image by Jaume Ollé

The white version of the coat of arms, as seen on the flag.

The inscriptions on the arms are:

  • Top: The Shahada
  • Below it: Allahu Akbar
  • The year: 1298
  • On the Scroll: Afghanistan
Dov Gutterman, 11 August 2005

Meaning of the Colours

According to this website, quoting an AFP news of 29 January 2002 via the Times of India:

Border affairs ministry official Abdul Wakil Omari said the three colours of the flag represented a different page in the history of Afghanistan. The black represented the 19th century era when Afghanistan was occupied and did not have independence, red marked the fight for independence and the green showed independence had been achieved, he said.

Christian Berghänel, 29 January 2002

By sheer coincidence, the three colours happen to be the same as in all Afghan flags between 1928 and 1978... It may be interesting to mention that the origin of these three colours (on the 1928 flag) is possibly:

  • black appeared representing the previous (monochrome) field of Afghan flags, which in turn represented the sovereign;
  • red was possibly introduced by emir, later king, Aman Allah as a sign of modernity and progress, copied from the Soviet flag as happened also with the 1928-1929 emblem;
  • green stood for Islam.
Source: Jaume Ollé's History of Afghan Flags, quoting The Flag Bulletin XIX 6 and Flagmaster 58.

Santiago Dotor, 30 January 2002


The Shahada

[Shahada (Afghanistan)]  image by Jaume Ollé

From the Islamic Resources of the Washington DC Area website: Ashhadu Alla Ilaha Illa Allah (Wa) Ashhadu Anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah — "I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is his servant and Messenger".
Juan Vaquer Jr.
, 24 March 1999

On the Saudi Arabian flag and all other flags that bear the Shahada it is simplified as, La allah illa Allah wa-Muhammed rasulu Allah. Literally: "No deity but God and Muhammad God's messenger".
Dov Gutterman
, 28 March 1999

I would like to specify that the Shahada written on flags —Taliban flag, Saudi Arabian flag etc.— does not have the Arabic conjunction wa ('and') mentioned above. [It is thus simply La allah illa Allah / Muhammed rasulu Allah.]
Omar Amastan Mouffok
, 26 December 2001

Shahada means 'testimony' or 'approval' in Arabic, and it is the Islamic credo. (...) The shorter form, found on flags, banners and walls of mosques reads, la ilaaha illa llaah (wa) muhammadu rasuulu llaah i.e. There is no god but Allah (and) Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
Dror Kamir
, 12 June 2002


National Colors

[Afghanistan national colors] photo by Joe McMillan

This photo was taken in early October 2005 in Kabul at a meeting with then-Minister of Interior Ali Jalali. This flag was behind his desk. He explained that it is the national flag used in ceremonies and offices by units of the Afghan police and military. I believe it would equate to a national color. It is a vertical tricolor, black-red-green, with a fringe of gold tassels all around. The arms on the center are in gold embroidery and reduced size to make room for the inscriptions. Jalali explained that the inscription on the green stripe reads, in Arabic, "Victory is from God, and it is near." The inscription on the black stripe is another Koranic quotation, but he didn't say what it is. I believe the words above the national emblem are the invocation "Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim" (In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful) and the shahada (There is no God but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God). The finial, not visible in the photo, is sort of a bulb that tapers to a point on the top. I don't think there was anything below the arms in the portion hidden by the chair.
Joe McMillan, 22 December 2006