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Symbols of Islam

There are several symbols in the Islamic tradition that represent the Muslim faith and are held by millions of Muslims around the world. Some of the most popular symbols of Islam are the half moon, Fatima’s hand and the colour green.

What does the crescent moon and the star mean?

The Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the Moon. However, the crescent is not an official symbol of Islam. The moon symbolises many things in many cultures, for instance, femininity, masculinity, fertility, and the passage of time. The crescent was at times a very popular icon. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, they adopted the symbol of the city, which was the crescent. They also used this symbol to adorn their flag and their mosques. Since then, the crescent was adopted by flags of other Muslim states.

What does Hamsa or Fatima’s Hand symbolise?

Hamsa is a talisman in the shape of a palm, very popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa and is often used in jewellery and in other decorations. Depicting the open right palm, an image that is recognised and used as a sign of protection in many societies in history, Hamsa is believed to provide protection against the evil eye (Nazr or Nazar). The symbol pre-dates Christianity and Islam.

In Islam, it is also known as the hand of Fatima, named after the daughter of Mohammed PBUH, Fatima Zahra. But at the same time, it’s recognised as a mascot among Christians in the region. Christians used to perceive this symbol as the hand of Jesus’ mother, hence they called it the “hand of the Virgin Mary”. Throughout the ages, however, it has remained as one of the most prominent symbols in the Islamic tradition.

Why is the colour of Islam green?

This is very much linked to what the optimal state of existence as described in the Holy Quran, which is the ‘greenness’. The greenness refers to the state of Paradise for the believers as a gift from the Creator.

The colour green is mentioned in many occasions in the Holy Quran. For example:

Reclining on green cushions and rich carpets of beauty (Sura 55, v. 76).
Upon them will be green jewels of fine silk

[…], and they will be adorned with bracelets of silk.

(Sura 76, v. 21).
In addition to that, Al-Khidr (‘The Green One’) is a figure who met and travelled along with Prophet Moses.

The colour green has been adopted by a few states in their flag, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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