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It is used on countless mosques and minarets, by charities, and as part of the flags for various Muslim nations, including, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros Islands, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Uzbekistan, and Western Sahara.
The sighting of the new moon is an important ritual to mark the start of months in the Islamic lunar calendar, most significantly the month of Ramadan. There is a lack of unity as to the exact procedure to be followed, which was not specified in the Quran (see Hijri Calendar).
Origins and adoption
Star and crescent symbols have a long history and are first seen in Summerian iconography, representing the moon god Sin with a crescent moon and his daughter the goddess Ishtar with a star (associated with the planet Venus), though the symbols are depicted side by side, usually also with a disk representing her brother, the sun god. The first examples of a star within a crescent moon symbol are found in ancient Greco-Roman times on coins associated with the city of Byzantium and the goddess Hecate for whom there had long been a cult there. It is also found on Roman and Persian coins of the 1st and 2nd century CE.
Andrea Gariboldi writes that "while in Roman coinage stars and crescent moons can allude to a generic astrological cult, albeit of oriental origin (Sol and Luna in particular), or to zodiacal motifs, or to the divinations of the emperor (the case of Caesar's star on Augustus' coinage is the most emblematic), ultimately degenerating, especially on bronze coinage of Constantine's era, to simple iconographic motifs which may be used to distinguish the different officinae of mints, I believe that the depiction of the sun and glimmering stars and of the crescent moon in Iranian coinage has its justification only in the concept of the, historically temporal, βασιλεία [i.e. kingdom] that places the sovereign at the centre of the universe created by God."
In the same article she details (with images) how the symbol of a star within crescent moon was used at the four cardinal points on the margins of coins under the Sasanian emperor Kawad I in the 6th century CE and was adopted for purposes of continuity in the Arab-Sasanian coins of the early Islamic era. The star and crescent became a symbol of Islam under the Ottomon empire, occasionally depicted on military flags in the 14th century CE (the crescent moon on its own being more common). It is widely thought to have achieved its widespread prominence and ubiquitous usage that we see in the Islamic world today when it became the Ottoman state symbol in the 18th century CE.
Admissibility in Islam
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- Islamic flags - Flags Of The World, October 18, 2008
- The Star and Crescent on Ancient Coins by Mike Markowitz, Coinweek.com 2017
- Gariboldi, Andrea (2004) Astral Symbology on Iranian Coinage. East and West, vol. 54, no. 1/4, pp. 31–53
- Pamela Berger, The Crescent on the Temple: The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Ancient Jewish Sanctuary (2012), pp. 164-165
- https://islamqa.info/en/answers/1528/taking-the-crescent-as-a-symbol (salafi/hanbali)
- https://islamqa.org/hanafi/askimam/13035 (hanafi)