Taking The Crescent As A Symbol: Does
The Dove Hold Any Significance In Islam?
Rulings - Living Shariah Verdicts
Islamic Questions & Answers
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
[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
‘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