View Full Version : Crescent Moon: Symbol of Islam?

05-01-2005, 07:37 PM
The Star and Crescent

crescent sm - The star and the crescent as depicted in a few flags of Muslim countries do not have any significance in the Islamic faith. In other words, the reason for depicting these symbols on flags is not Islamic or religious. On the contrary, it is primarily a continuation of a tradition set by the vast Ottoman-empire (for a period of over half a millennium), which has prompted some of the modern Muslim states to depict these two symbols on their flags. One may, however, ask why did the Ottoman-empire opt for the star and the crescent on its flags. No specific answer can be given for this question. There could be a number of possible reasons.

The fact that there is a significant difference between 'symbols of the Islamic faith' and 'symbols adopted by Muslims'. The symbols of the Islamic faith are only those, which have been declared as symbols by the Qur'an or the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be Upon him). These may include the Ka`bah, the black stone of the Ka`bah etc. All these things symbolize one or the other major reality ascribed to by the Islamic faith.

History of the origin in the usage of the Crescent and Star:
During the Byzantine Empire, the city of Byzantium (a.k.a. Constantinople and Istanbul) was Dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt. The crescent was the symbol of Diana. In 330 CE, Constantine rededicated the city to the virgin Mary, whose star symbol was added to the previous crescent. When the Turks took possession of Byzantium, they found lots of crescent flags and adopted it as a symbol of good omen. In 339 BC, Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) was thwarted from overtaking the city of Byzantium because his army was spotted due to a bright crescent moon.

"The star and crescent" was first hoisted on behalf of the Muslims by Mahomet II after the capture of Constantinople in 1453 CE. Prior to that, it was common on the arm of knight and esquires. A star within a crescent was a badge of Richard I, 250 years before Constantinople fell. They quit using it when it became the banner of Muslims. It has been used more and more ever since by Muslims in a way to identify themselves. Sultan Othman, founder of the Ottoman empire, had a dream of crescent moon growing bigger and bigger until it reached East to West.

Banners or flags are what people customarily unite around or behind. It may or may not represent some characteristic about them. The twelve tribes of Israel, for example, each had it's own banner or symbol, e.g. 'The Lion of Judah,' etc. An insignia could represent one's cause, philosophy, belief or attitude; whether religious or secular. The color and the symbol's use on national flags is also most interesting. Red is the Ottomon (Turkish) color and thus, a star and crescent on a field of red. In Mauritania, green stands for prosperity and hope. The star represents the people. On the Pakistani flag, the crescent is for progress and the star for enlightenment.

The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s Flag
As to what the actual Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used, we find some very interesting information. It has been reported that the Holy Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s first standard or flag was a black flag to contradict the white flag of the Quraish, who had a black eagle on it as well. The earliest such flag or banner used by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was a sable curtain which hung in the chamber of his wife, Ayesha (R.A.) In the center, the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) attached a white cloth which was a turban that he captured from the city of Boreide. On it was written the inscription, Nasr um min Allah, which meant "the help of Allah." Most appropriate. One can see how powerful a symbol this was to be used as a banner or flag.

In modern times, some governments, like Saudi Arabia, prefer not to use the star and crescent of the Turkish government, but instead use a plain green field with the shaha'da on it in white. There is also a white sword underneath. Several modern day Muslims use the shaha'da in white on a green field as their way of showing they are Muslim.

Moonsighting: The Hilaal:
There is no symbolic significance of the Crescent in Islam. No special event of Islamic history or faith is associated with it. People of Arabia been had associated with many superstitions concerning different forms of crescent. The answer of Qur’an to them is the same: “They ask you concerning crescent. Say, they are but signs to mark fixed periods of time for men...” (2:189).

With a crescent, starts a new month of Islamic calendar and it is religiously important for the Muslims to keep track of moon cycles as fixed dates of the year are set for rituals like fasting and Hajj. Qur’an has recognized the importance of both solar and lunar systems of reckoning of time. “The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed (55:5) and “(God has created) the sun and moon for the reckoning (of time). Such is the ordinance of the Exalted in power, the Omniscient” (6:96). The length of a day is to be counted on the basis of earth’s revolution around its axis. Each new date starts with the sunset. The months are to be reckoned on the basis of cycles of moon, so the Islamic rituals gradually rotate in all the seasons of the year for the people of northern and southern hemispheres. A lunar year as you know is about 10 days shorter than the solar year. The length of the fasting time (from dawn to sunset) in a day in the fasting month of Ramadhan when drinking water is also prohibited during fasting, also gradually varies, with each year, for all the people of the earth. If the fasting was observed in a solar month, say January, then the length of fasting time in a day for the people of the northern hemisphere would always be shorter than for the people of the other half. The thirst of water will be no problem for northern people while their counterparts will always observe fasts in longer days of fierce summers. Keeping track of a crescent is more important for Muslims than any other religious community who follow the lunar calendar for their religious occasions. Fasting for consecutive 29 or 30 days is compulsory for all Muslims in the 9th month of Islamic Calendar. The first date of the month starts with the sunset and Taraweeh (Additional long prayers in the 9th month named Ramadhan) have to be started a short while after the start of the date. It is important that the starting of the month is known precisely. The crescent is visible only for a short duration after the sunset on the first date of the new lunar month. On its first date, the moon sets only a little after the sunset. Sometimes because of its faint light and sometimes because of clouds or dust it cannot be seen. The occurrence of crescent may not necessarily be announced on the basis of news from other places, as for people on eastern longitudes it might not have occurred before the moonset time while those in west had witnessed it. By traditions the Muslims have been relying on actual sighting of the moon for starting their month of Ramadhan. Similarly the first date of the 10th month is their festival of ‘Eid’. It is obligatory that nobody keep fast on the day of Eid. The Muslims all over the world anxiously try to see the moon on the evening of the 29th day of fasting in Ramadhan. Where it is not visible, the month of Ramadhan is taken as of 30 days for that place.

The significance of tracking the crescent for observing the religious rituals and feasts in Islam has been explained above. It does not assume any symbolic significance of any kind whatsoever. There are no such symbols representing Islam like in almost all other religions. When the seat of power of the Islamic world shifted to Turks from Arabs, and Muslim dynasties spread in Central Asia and other parts of the world, many people under the cultural influence of other religions, felt the need of a distinct symbol. They started using crescent as their distinct mark. The use of crescent as a mark by some people is a gradual innovation instead of being associated with any tenet or historical event of Islam.

Now, as Muslims, why should we be so concerned about all this? Well, for one thing we should never want to look to any person, nation, government or anything as a source of guidance or direction over Allah. To do so would be shirk. No one is worthy of that honor except Allah, the Almighty.

There are several Muslim countries that currently feature the crescent moon and star symbol on their national flag. Even more have used the symbol previously in history, but the color, size, orientation, and design features continue to vary widely from country to country. It is also interesting to note the diversity of the countries represented. The majority of these countries are not Arabic-speaking, but rather are part of the greater Muslim World. Some Countries that use the crescent and the star are: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Malaysia,Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

What does all this have to do with the symbol of the 'star and the crescent'? Well, for one thing, both symbols, the star and the crescent, come from the false worship or adoration for someone other than Allah. In the case of the crescent, it was the goddess Diana and with the star it was Mary (Peace be upon her), the mother of Jesus (Peace be upon him). As much as we love and respect Mary(Maryam- Peace be upon her), the mother of Jesus, peace and blessings be on her, she is not worthy of worship and she would be the first to tell you so. For that matter neither is Musa (Moses) or 'Isa (Jesus) or even our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be on all of them . Nor is the Qur'an worthy of worship or the entire record of ahadith or the two Holy Mosques or the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs (R.A.) or anything in this universe, past, present or future. Only Allah stands alone as worthy of worship. Yet some of us carry these symbols around as an expression of identity with those very beings and are proud to associate ourselves as Muslims by them.

Proper attention should be given, however, to the use of a symbol or icon that at one time represented the worship of a goddess or to one that symbolizes our 'godly' adoration for a righteous person whom some may place on the same plane of reverence reserved only for Allah. May Allah guide us as we search to perfect our worship of Him as He has perfected our religion. In the end we all return to Him and He will teach us what was best; for He is the best to decide (10:108-109).

Therefore, in Conclusion, due to the history of the CRESCENT and STAR, one should be cautious in it's usage on letterheads, minarets, flags, masjids etc. as a symbol that represents ISLAM.

Compiled by AL-ISLAAH PUBLICATIONS from Sources: islamicvoice ; islam.about ; ameen/crescent

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Ansar Al-'Adl
05-01-2005, 07:44 PM
This is a very important article indeed. The crescent moon has become exaggerated, and it really is not the symbol of Islam. I think the conclusion of the article is very important.

Great post.


05-01-2005, 10:59 PM
Then why do so many Muslims, such as the well known Malcom-X, utilize it as a religous symbol?

Ansar Al-'Adl
05-01-2005, 11:06 PM
Its become a very widespread practice, although it has no religious basis. As long as it is not added to the religion, its fine, but unfortunately many misconceptions have resulted from it (mainly those fueled by Islam-haters) and as such I find it better not to use it. But even the masajid I go to have a crescent on the dome, minaret, etc.


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05-01-2005, 11:33 PM
Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
Its become a very widespread practice
Pakistan flag being one example.

Ibn Syed
05-02-2005, 01:18 AM
I never knew that before. Lots of muslims still use the crescent. But on the top of some masjids I see a crescent on it.

05-09-2005, 03:54 AM
Salaam...nice read...:)
Jazaks for posting!

07-27-2005, 12:25 AM
yea subhanAllah, muslims need to see this, as well that whole 786 = BISMILLAH thing a'udhu billah. is there something on here about that? inshaAllah i'll find an article.

07-27-2005, 08:18 PM
firstly , thank for informative article brother Kadafi. I see this thread now and I would like to give a info for this. yes crescent moon is not a symbol of islam. yes it is true, this symbol was given by Ottomas to arabic world during Ottoman empire. so Why did Ottomans use this symbol?. The first using of crescent on the flag was used from Gokturk (the first turkic empire in the middle asia in the turkish history) on the 7th. century. so this symbol has been using from 7th. century to today. The white crescent on the flag means turkish nation. Because of this, you can see a crescent on the other turkic countries( Azerbejian, Uzbekistan, Turkish Republic of northern cyprus, and other Turkic countries in the middle asia and Turkmen flag in Iraq). Originally the flag was a crescent on a green base, but this was changed in 1793 when Sultan Selim III changed the background to red. The color red is a prominent color in Turkish history, especially regarding blood of martyrs and the bloody battles of the Turkish War of Independence.The star was then added in 1844. the five-angled star means people, mankind. just I added some info because it is related to our flag. I hope that this make a clear something and about this thread. :)

Life Is Fitnah
07-27-2005, 10:36 PM
Originally Posted by NooralHaya
yea subhanAllah, muslims need to see this, as well that whole 786 = BISMILLAH thing a'udhu billah. is there something on here about that? inshaAllah i'll find an article.
786 was originated by the Shee'a who tried replacing the BismillAllaah with the numbers in order to do "taqiyyah' which means deception basically.

Also some people have said that 786 comes from Hinduism which represents Hindu idol 'Lord Hari Krishna':
h-5, r-200, r-10, k-20, r-200, sh-300, n-50, a-1 = Aggregate of 786

But we all know this has no basis in Islaam and should be stopped and condemned.

And Allaahs knowledge encompasses all things (Allaaho 'Alim)


08-01-2005, 03:45 AM
Masha'llah that was very informative. I was just wondering about that a couple of weeks ago.

08-01-2005, 04:58 AM
Nice read..totally informative :). Hmm, I never knew about the crescent thing..never really thought much of it...Anyways, JazakAllah for posting and sharing it! ;)

08-06-2005, 04:46 PM

The ruling regarding it!! :)

08-08-2005, 08:15 PM

JazakAllah khair for sharing the article Kadafi. :) Just the other day, my brother insisted that it was the symbol of Islam even after my speech of the century.

yea subhanAllah, muslims need to see this, as well that whole 786 = BISMILLAH thing a'udhu billah. is there something on here about that? inshaAllah i'll find an article.
Please refer to this thread. :)


01-21-2006, 09:07 AM
Here in China every Muslim restaurant and Mosque has teh Crescent adn the Star. I was just researching yesterday how this came about. Bless you for writing this article from a Muslim perspective because when I searched on google there were many misleading sites I came across.


The Ruler
02-12-2006, 09:16 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
Just the other day, my brother insisted that it was the symbol of Islam even after my speech of the century.
lol bro ;D ;D

anyways good thread bro kadafi it ia a very informative thread as i myself was pondering the other day about this symbol :)

abdul Majid
02-12-2006, 09:19 PM
well it was and still is the flag of turkey, and the last khaliph was from there, from the ottoman empire...so the used that....but its not the flag of islam persay i dont think

02-12-2006, 09:22 PM

No its not the Flag of islam for sure...

laylatul qadar
04-05-2006, 05:31 AM
wow i had no idea that the cresent moon wasn't exactly islamical i always thought it was the symbol of islam

04-06-2006, 12:23 PM
I really enjoyed this article. I learned something new today.

Omar Khalil
04-06-2006, 12:30 PM
Thanxs for that article...very informative!:bravo:

04-19-2006, 12:17 PM
assalam alaikum
does the muslim connection with the colour green have any islamic basis

05-18-2006, 04:42 PM
No where in any of my limited studies of the Qur'an. Sunnah and Hadeeth have I ever seen anything mentioned as being the "official" symbol of Islam.

I can only say is that a "symbol" usualy does not start out as being an intended representation of anything. It is just that over time certain things will take on a connontation refering to Intangible concepts. Then we have a symbol. I can not think of any physical representation that would be a true symbol of Islam. I think what people will perceive as being Islam, will change periodicaly with time and location.

I'm trying to think of what is it a Muslim sees today and immediatly knows he/she is near a Mosque? What is there that any Muslim will immediadly see as being Islamic?

Do we really have a universal symbol? For that matter, do we really need one?

- Qatada -
05-18-2006, 05:49 PM

I believe that having Laaillaaha illallah Muhammad-ur Rasool Allaah (there is no god but Allaah, and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Messenger of Allaah.) engraved in our hearts is sufficient for us insha'Allaah. :)


05-18-2006, 06:26 PM

01-01-2007, 06:14 PM

What is the symbolism behind the Muslim star and crescent? I did a keyword search of your site and searched my library's reference books and cannot find anything more than a reference to the flag of the Ottoman Empire. Thank you for your interest.


Praise be to Allaah.

There is no basis in sharee’ah for taking the crescent or star as a symbol of the Muslims. This was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or at the time of the Khulafa’ al-Raashidoon (the first four leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or during the time of the Umawis (Umayyad dynasty). It emerged some time after that, and historians differ as to when this symbol was first adopted and who was the first to adopt it. Some say it was the Persians, others say it was the Greeks, and that this symbol was somehow passed to the Muslims. (See Al-Taraateeb al-Idaariyah by al-Kittaani, 1/320). It was said that the reason why the Muslims adopted the crescent was that when they conquered some western countries, the churches there had crosses on top of them, the Muslims replaced the crosses with these crescents, and the practice spread in this way. Whatever the case, symbols and banners must be in accordance with the teachings of Islam, and as there is no evidence that this symbol is prescribed by Islam, it is better not to use it. Neither the crescent nor the star are symbols of the Muslims, even though some Muslims may use them as symbols.

As regards what Muslims think about the moon and the stars, they believe that they are part of the creation of Allaah, and as such can neither benefit nor harm people, and they do not have any influence over events on earth. Allaah has created them for the benefit of mankind, an example of which is seen in the aayah or verse of the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning):

“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage…” [al-Baqarah 2:189]

[The commentator] Ibn Katheer said, explaining the phrase Say: these are signs to mark fixed periods of time: “From them (the new moons) they may know the times for repaying loans, the ‘iddah (waiting period) of their women [after being divorced or widowed] and the timing of their Hajj (pilgrimage)… Allaah has made them signs to mark the times when Muslims should start to fast and break their fast [the beginning and end of Ramadaan], to count the ‘iddah of their women and to know the times for repaying loans.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer).

[Another commentator] Al-Qurtubi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on this aayah [verse]: “This explains the wisdom behind the waxing and waning of the moon, which is to avoid any confusion in appointed dates, dealings, oaths, Hajj, ‘iddah, fasting, breaking fasts, length of pregnancy, rentals and other matters that concern mankind. Similar to this aayah are others (interpretation of the meanings):

‘And We have appointed the night and the day as two aayaat (signs). Then, We have made dark the sign of the night while We have made the sign of day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and that you may know the number of the years and the reckoning…” [al-Isra’ 17:12]

‘It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out its (their) stages, that you might know the number of years and the reckoning…’ [Yoonus 10:5]

Counting the new moons is easier than counting days.” (See Tafseer al-Qurtubi).

With regard to the stars, the scholars of Islam say that Allaah created these stars for three reasons: to adorn the heavens, to drive away the devils (shayaateen) and as signs for navigation. (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Kitaab Bad’ al-Khalq), as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“It is He Who has set the stars for you, so that you may guide your course with their help through the darkness of the land and the sea…” [al-An’aam 6:97]

“And indeed We have adorned the nearest heaven with lamps, and We have made such lamps (as) missiles to drive away the shayaateen (devils), and have prepared for them the torment of the blazing Fire.” [al-Mulk 67:5]



01-01-2007, 06:26 PM
Good post that is something many non-Muslims get confused over.

there is no symbolism for Muslims attached to it.

It was the flag for the Ottomans and the Western world came to identify the Ottoman Empire with Muslims. So it really has more symbolism for non-Muslims than it has for us.

The Cresent moon is simply the first day of the month. We use a Lunar calender instead of a solar based one.

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