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Islamic flags

Last modified: 2024-03-09 by rob raeside
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About flags for Islam

The Shahada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The shahada (Arabic الشهادة‎ aš-šahādah) (from the verb شهد šahida, "to witness" or "to testify"), or Kalimat ash-Shahadah (Arabic: كلمة الشهادة‎), is an Islamic creed which declares belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. The declaration in its shortest form reads:

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله (lā ʾilāha ʾillā l-Lāh, Muḥammadur rasūlu l-Lāh) (in Arabic)

There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God. (in English)

In Shia Islam, the creed is expanded with the addition of a phrase concerning Ali at the end, although it is not obligatory:

وعليٌ وليُّ الله (wa ʿAliyyun waliyyu l-Lāh) ["and Ali is the wali (friend; viceregent) of God"].

The word shahādah (شَهادة) is a noun stemming from the verb shahada (شَهَدَ) , meaning "he observed, witnessed, or testified"; when used in legal terms, shahādah is a testimony to the occurrence of events, such as debt, adultery, or divorce. The shahādah can also be expressed in the dual form shahādatān (شَهادَتانْ, lit. "two testimonials"), which refers to the dual act of observing or seeing and then the declaration of the observation.The person giving the testimony is called a shāhid (شاهِد), with the stress on the first syllable. The two acts in Islam are observing or perceiving that there is no god but God and testifying or witnessing that Muhammad is the messenger of God. In a third meaning, shihādah or more commonly istishhād (إسْتِشْهادْ), means "martyrdom", the shahīd (شَهيد) pronounced with stress on the last syllable ("martyr") demonstrating the ultimate expression of faith. Shahīd can also be used in a non-Islamic religious context. Long before the advent of Islam, Christian Arabs of the Middle East used the word shahīd referencing to someone that was wrongly killed or someone that died for his family, his Christian faith or his country. The two words shāhid (شاهِد, "witness") and shahīd (شَهيد, "martyr") are pre-Islamic. Both are paradigms of the root verb (شَهَدَ, shahada, "he observed").

This declaration, or statement of faith, is called the kalimah (كَلِمة, lit. "word"). Recitation of the shihādah, the "oath" or "testimony", is the most important article of faith for Muslims. Non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam do so by a public recitation of this creed. Most Muslims count it as the first of the Five Pillars of Islam, while the Twelver and Ismaili Shi'a connect it to their respective lists of pillars of the faith. The complete shahādah cannot be found in the Quran, but comes from hadiths.

More detail and references at
William Garrison, 26 June 2013

Islamic Flags

Further information: Islamic flags

Flags reported as in use in Islam have been frequently displaying the shahada, usually on a black background, the time of Muhammad. The Taliban used a white flag with the shahada inscribed in black from 1997, until 2001 as the flag of their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Flags showing the shahada, often written on a green background, have also been displayed by supporters of Hamas in rallies during the 2000s.

The shahada is referenced in the eighth stanza of the Turkish national anthem, which can be translated as:
Oh glorious God, the sole wish of my pain-stricken heart is that,
No heathen’s hand should ever touch the bosom of my sacred Temples.
ʾaḏāns, whose shahadas are the foundations of my religion,
May their noble sound last loud and wide over my eternal homeland.

An Islamic flag is a flag that complies with Islamic rules. Traditionally Islamic flags were of solid colour. The most favoured colours were black, white, red and green. However, other plain colours can be adopted. A bi-colour or tricolour (triband) flag can also be adopted as an Islamic flag. An example of a traditional solid coloured Islamic flag would be the old flag of Libya under Gaddafi.

Early History

The early Muslim community did not use any designs or geometric shapes as symbols on their flags. During the time of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, Muslim armies and caravans flew simple solid-coloured flags (generally black or white) for identification purposes. In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white, or green flag with no markings, writings, or symbolism on it.

Muhammad used flags of different colours in different Ghazwat (or campaigns commanded by Muhammad himself) and Saraya (or campaigns commanded by any Sahaba, the companions of Muhammad). The major flag of Muhammad was known as Al-Uqab (The Eagle); it was pure black, without symbols or markings. Its name and colour was derived from the flag of the Quraysh, an Arabian tribe, whose flag, also called Al-Uqaab, was black with an eagle.
William Garrison, 26 June 2013

International flags for Islam

Unless one takes a plain green banner (similar to Libya's) as a broad representation of Islam (said to have been borne by the Prophet Muhammad PBUH), there is not an Islamic flag.
The best representative body here would be the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1990. Photos from that time show a green flag, edged all around with white (though this may simply be a fringe, the sort of wide fringe often seen on Saudi flags), with a large white circle in the center, upon which is a red crescent, points up, and within the crescent the name of the body in calligraphic Arabic.
Beyond this, there is of course the Arab League, but this is "Arab" and not "Islamic."
Ed Haynes 6 October 1995

The international Red Crescent flag (used in Moslem countries where a Red Cross would not accord with Community Standards) could be considered as "representing Islam".
Will Linden 6 October 1995

Representation of flags

Unlike the practice in most Western nations, flags are usually depicted in Islamic countries with the staff to the right. This is analogous to the right-to-left form of most Arabic and Arabic-influenced scripts. This can make for confusion when flag images are shown without an accompanying flagstaff, as it may not be immediately obvious which way around the flag is being depicted.

In keeping with Islamic law, Muslim flags generally do not bear any representations of live creatures, though some Arab flags have the Eagle of Saladin that are used as supporters on the Coats of Arms. These flags are not necessarily Islamic in their nature; rather they more likely to derive from the Pan-Arabist movement. It is rare to find plants depicted on flags of Muslim nations, even though this is permissible under Islamic guidelines. Some state and royal flags of Saudi Arabia depict palm trees.
William Garrison, 26 June 2013

Hajj pilgrimage participant

Hajj pilgrimage participant flag] image located by William Garrison, 14 September 2022

From a letter and photo sent to me from a resident in Iraq:

A devout Muslim tries at least once during their life to visit Mecca/Maccah, Saudi Arabia (KSA), and walk around their holy Kaaba shrine (among other side trips). [al-Kaaba: 'The Cube" -- the shape of the shrine.] This pilgrimage is called "the Hajj." A Muslim male who completes this pilgrimage is given the honorific title "Hajji" (one who has performed the Hajj), while a woman is called a "Hajjan". They often add this to their name as al-Hajji or al-Hajjan. This is a white-field flag with a black image of the Kaaba shrine, along with black-letter slogans that read: "An accepted Hajj, a commendable endeavor, and a sin forgiven if God wills". By performing the Hajj a Hajji may have some of their sins vacated by their god: Allah (inshallah: if God wills). A Hajji could fly this flag outside their house to inform/(brag) to their neighbors that they have performed/completed the Hajj.
William Garrison, 14 September 2022

Eid Milad or "Happy Birthday"

Eid Milad flag] image by William Garrison, 22 November 2022

A green-field flag with a crescent-moon logo encircling the Arabic word for the Muslim prophet "Mohammed", and "Mohammed" appearing in each for the four corners, along with I believe "Eid Milad" or "Happy Birthday" just below Mohammed's name in the circle. Conservative/orthodox (Sunni) Muslims (in Saudi Arabia) do not celebrate Mohammed's birthday, as they consider such celebrations to be "bida" or a non-Muslim "(bad) invention" or "western idolatry". But Shia-Muslims (in Iraq), and Muslims living further away from Saudi Arabia, seem to be more tolerant of such birthday celebrations.
Source: flag purchased in Iraq
William Garrison, 22 November 2022

Eid Milad flag] image by William Garrison, 1 December 2023

Essentially, a "Happy Birthday Mohammad" flag but reads: "Oh, here you are ... Oh, Messenger of Allah", as paraded in Sana'a, Yemen; c. 12 Dec. 2016. The "Messenger of Allah" reference is from the latter portion of the Muslim's "Declaration of Faith" shahada that means: "There is no god but Allah... His messenger is Mohammad." Conservative Sunni-Muslims do not celebrate Mohammad's birthday, as they consider such celebrations to be "bida" (bad "innovations": "sayyiah") from "Westerners" ("faranji") or "ahl al-bidda wa al-ahwa" ("the People of Unwarranted Innovations and Idle Desires"). Iranian Shia-Muslim conservatives have a negative view of the celebration of Mohammad's birthday, as well, as they view it being a "gharbzadegi" (bad "westoxification") influence, i.e., not being a traditional Islamic custom. The further away from the conservative Muslim centers of Riyadh and Tehran the celebration of Mohammad's birthday is more tolerated.
William Garrison, 1 December 2023

Eid Milad flag] image by William Garrison, 4 December 2023

From Essentially a "Happy Birthday to Muhammad" (Islam's last prophet) flag. It has depictions of the Muslim Kaaba shrine in Mecca, Mohammad's green-dome tomb in Medina, KSA, and Mohammad's name in red-white Arabic/Urdu in the lower-right corner. The flag was paraded in Lahore, Pakistan; c. October 2020.
William Garrison, 4 December 2023

Eid Milad flag] image by William Garrison, 13 January 2024

A green-field flag in with a Arabic white-letter slogan reading: "Mohammad Messenger of Allah", as seen in Sanaa, Yemen; c. Oct. 2022. This slogan is the last half of a Muslim's "Declaration of Belief" or "Profession of Faith". The full profession slogan is: "The is no deity but Allah, Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah."

Eid Milad flag] image by William Garrison, 6 February 2024

A green-field flag with a white Arabic slogan that reads: "At your order, Oh, Messenger of Allah" referring to flag carrier's devotion of following Mohammad's call to Islam; as paraded by a Shiite-Houthi in Sanaa, Yemen, while celebrating "Mawlid al-Nabi" or the birth of Islam's prophet Muhammad; c. Nov. 9, 2019. "Nabi" = prophet; "Mawlid" = birthday.
William Garrison, 6 February 2024

Allah Akbar flag

Allah Akbar flag] image located by William Garrison, 1 November 2023

A yellow-field flag with a green-and-red outlined Arabic slogan or "takbir" expression of "Allah Akbar" or "Allah is the greatest". "Allah Akbar" has appeared on the national flags of Afghanistan (1992), Iran (1980), and Iraq (2008), and on various Islamist militia and political-party flags. Most likely associated with the Shia-Muslim uprisings following the fall of the Iraqi Saddam Hussain regime in late 2003. "Takbir" is the name for the Arabic phrase: ʾAllāhu ʾakbaru , lit. 'God is the greatest'; source:

 There is a flag-pole sleeve at the right (hoist).
William Garrison
, 1 November 2023

Muslim Funeral flag

Funeral flag] image located by William Garrison, 19 July 2019

This Muslim funeral flag was located on Ebay - its age and usage are unknown.
William Garrison, 19 July 2019