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The crescent moon is NOT a religious Islamic symbol


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Author Topic: The crescent moon is NOT a religious Islamic symbol  (Read 2122 times)
Heba E. Husseyn
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« on: July 17, 2010, 08:05:50 pm »

 BismEm


At times we may see the image of a fine crescent moon above the minaret of a masjid in photographs.  There are some Christians and polytheists who wrongly and ignorantly misinterpret this image of the crescent moon in connection with Islam as a symbol worshiped by Muslims.  Some such uneducated gossip-mongers have also claimed that the crescent moon is symbolic of a pagan moon god which Muslims worship. 

The crescent moon has NO religious significance whatsoever for Muslims.   The reason for showing the crescent moon is to make known that Muslims use the lunar calendar to calculate the months, unlike the Christians who use the solar calendar. 

Furthermore, it was the Ottoman Empire of Turkey which used the crescent as a symbol for a thoroughly non-religious reason.   Thus, the crescent is a symbol of the Ottoman empire relating to its political sphere, NOT of Islam.   I will mention more about it shortly.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) and in the era of the early Muslim communities, there was no concept of the crescent or star even though the Muslims used the lunar calendar to calculate the months.  During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAAW), Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, 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, nor symbols on it, for the same purpose of identification.

Let me discuss the history, why the Ottomans used the crescent as a non-religious symbol of their empire.   The founder of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, who's name was Osman, had a dream in which he saw the crescent moon stretching from one end of the sky to the other.  He took this as a harbinger of good luck for himself in his future conquests and expanding the Ottoman empire.  For this reason, Osman made crescent the symbol of his Ottoman dynasty.  Thus, the cause of acquiring the crescent as a symbol for this dynasty was a personal choice based on personal feelings.  It was also a matter of chance.  It so happened that Osman dreamed of the crescent stretching across the sky.  He could have dreamed of any other object just as much, for example, a sword, a garden etc.   In that case he would have certainly made that particular object the symbol of his empire.

The Ottomans ruled successfully over the Muslim world for hundreds of years.  They fought many victorious battles against Christian Europe.  Thus, the symbol of the crescent became linked in the minds of non-Muslims as a symbol of Islamic Faith.  But this notion is totally wrong just as non-Muslims carry plenty of other false notions about the Islamic Faith based on their superficial observations and complete lack of knowledge.

At present and since always, the crescent has carried no other significance for Muslim communities at large, except the calculation of months by observing the shape of the moon.  The commencement of the month of Ramadan, the start of the Muslim new year of Moharram, the month of Zil-Hajj and the start and finish of all other months (there are 12 months in the Islamic or the Hijri calendar) are judged by the appearance of the moon.  This lunar cycle, from new moon to new moon, takes 29-30 days to complete. When the crescent moon appears in the sky at its finest, that's the first day of every Islamic month.  After 30 days when the moon appears full, that's the proof of the end of every Islamic month.

Furthermore, it should be known that during the Ottoman reign and prior to that, even the Christians and Jews used the lunar calendar to calculate the months.   

Non-Muslims often portray another very incorrect analogy involving the crescent .  They claim that just as Christians have the cross as a religious symbol, and the Jews have the Star of David, similarly the Muslims have the crescent moon.  Dead wrong!  The only symbol which the Muslims have is the sign of  الله‎  (Allah).  Nothing more, nothing else.

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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2010, 12:25:20 am »

Very good clarification sister.  You're right, the crescent symbol was started entirely by Osman Ghazi I, the founder and the first ruler of the Ottoman Empire.  The crescent symbol most certainly has nothing to do with any pagan idea as wrongly claimed by the Christians.  Osman Ghazi was a very staunch Muslim. 

The incident about his dream is very famous in history and it sounds very glamorous to listeners, somewhat like the Arabian Nights Smiley   It's a very interesting story and though it may seem like a small fiction, the basics of the incident are true.  It's known as the 'sleepless night of Osman' which he spent before taking the throne.  One day, when he was 19 years old, his father Ertugrul went to visit a friend with his family, where they would remain overnight.  Osman also went along.  The host of the house showed Osman his room and everyone retired for the night.  As he was preparing to go to sleep, Osman noticed the Qur'an hanging on the wall.  His respect for the Holy Book of Islam prevented him from lying down, and as he was a guest, he could not take the Qur'an out of the room.  So, he decided not to sleep until morning and sat down beside the sofa.  However, he was unable to stay awake all night and dozed off for a short while just before Fajr. 

Osman had a teacher who lived in his village, whose name was Sheikh Edebali.  When Osman fell asleep sitting beside the sofa, he had a strange and weird dream.  He dreamt of a crescent coming out of the chest of his mentor, Sheikh Edebali, and going into his body. Then he saw a huge tree emerging from his chest and covering the sky, shading the earth, and the people enjoying and benefiting from his shade.  He then woke up.  When he and his family returned to their village, he recounted this dream to his mentor, Sheikh Edebali.  Edebali smiled when he heard the story of Osman's dream and came up with a prophecy by interpreting the dream.  He told Osman that Allah Almighty would grant him and his descendants an enormous empire and he would get married to Sheikh Edebali's daughter named Malhun.  It so happened that this lady did end up becoming Osman's wife, and Osman did end up becoming the first ruler of the Ottoman dynasty which ruled over large portions of Middle East, Turkey and Southern Europe for 600 years.   

The story has a slight variation, in that, one version says that Osman had this dream when he was sleeping at his teacher, Sheikh Edebali's lodge, while another version says as I recounted above which is more widely accepted.  However, this doesn't at all mean that Edebali knew the future.  To whatever extent the story of Edebali's prophecy might be correct, it was simply a fluke prediction from his mouth that came largely correct.  However, Osman did have this strange dream .... that from all accounts seems to be true and its very possible too. Edebali obviously wanted Osman to become his son-in-law, so 'predicting' that wasn't difficult for him Smiley  As for telling him that he would become a sultan was pure guesswork that came true by a fluke  Cheesy   Hence, this episode is widely known to be the reason why the Ottomans made the crescent a symbol of their Empire.  Like you already stated, the crescent was obviously taken by Osman as pleasant memory and good luck for his conquests.

Edebali's daughter, Malhun, whom Osman married became the mother of Osman's son, Orhan Ghazi, who succeeded his father and became the second ruler of the Ottoman Empire. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2010, 12:51:04 am »

Alhumdulilah, what a great thread.  Your analytical rejoinder is very intelligently put, sister.  And you are right, I too have come across several of these orthodox christians grossly misinterpreting the crescent moon symbol on the basis of their sheer ignorance. 

Br. PT, the account of Osman Ghazi's dream sounds quite thrilling Smiley  very interesting indeed.  I read it with wrapped attention.  Actually I knew that  crescent is just a time calculating symbol and not at all a religious symbol in Islam, I didn't know that it started from the Ottomans.  Thanks for educating me on that. 

Those Muslim countries which carry the sign of crescent and star have their own individual interpretations which are not at all connected with religion.  For example, the Pakistani flag carries a crescent and a star.  The crescent is supposed to represent progress and the star represents enlightenment.  Such ideas of success linked to the crescent & star have arisen from the victories & expansions of the Ottoman empire, and are not linked with Islam at all.  Similarly, a few other Muslim flags that may carry the crescent and star may have their own secular interpretations.  And also, no Muslim flag carries the sign of just the crescent, it's always crescent & star, wherever seen.   Thus, in summary, what it symbolizes in those few Muslim countries where it's shown on the flag is an analogical representation with qualities such as success, light of knowledge, wisdom and sophistication because the stars and the moon in the heavens are considered amongst one of the many spectacular creations of nature by Allah Almighty.   
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2010, 12:52:33 am »

Btw .. what exactly is this star of David supposed to be with the Jews?  Does it come from their altered religious scripture?  I don't think so .. but I'm not sure.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2010, 01:08:56 am »

Br. PT, thanks a lot for mentioning the dream incident in detail and correcting my inaccuracies of it.  I just recall reading about it very briefly in a abbreviated history book which I got from a library some years ago which only mentioned that the first Ottoman ruler saw in a dream the crescent spreading across.  Obviously it meant what you stated, but they wanted to keep it short so didn't say anything more. 

Sister Zeynab, you understanding about the present-day star & crescent in some flags of Muslim countries is very correct.  It's simply supposed to analogically represent the good qualities of life linked to success and glory. 

Also, some Muslims nowadays also interpret the 5 corners of a star that appears with the crescent as representing the 5 pillars of Ilsam.  But such an interpretation is again very subjective and emerges only from individual thoughts, not from Islam.  The Noble Quran NEVER refers to any such notion.  The 5 pillars of Islam are the direct dictates of the Quran.  Therefore, it's the Quran alone which is the proof of establishing the 5 pillars of Islam.  Alhumdulilah.

The Star of David a.k.a. the Shield of David used as Jewish symbol is also not a religous one either.  In plain terms, it's just an identification mark of the Jewish nation, basically a symbol of unity, though it carries dozens of mythical stories behind it .. all of which just fables and tales which the human mind has been so inclined to construct throughout the annals of history.  The commonest and most widely accepted version about the origin of star of David is associated with King David which, like other Biblical stories, is officially accepted as a Jewish legend with no historical evidences.  The legend goes that when David was a teen he fought one of his enemies with a round shield which composed of 2 interlocking triangles (like shown in the Israeli flag) at the back of it.  At one point the battle got very intense and the 2 triangles got fused together.  David eventually won the battle and henceforth the 2 triangles came to be known as the Star of David or the Shield of David.   The Star of David (in blue) became a Jewish sign of unity, more so, the symbol of Zionism, after WW2.  Prior to WW2 in Germany Hitler ordered the Jews to wear the yellow Star of David as a "badge of shame." 
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2010, 04:33:39 am »

BTW ,, I just thought of putting up this Verse which proves that the only significance of the moon for Muslims is to help them calculate the years and months.

"He it is Who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge. ." (Surah 10 Verse 5)
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2010, 05:09:34 am »

Thanks br. pt.  I also found this passage from the Islamic Wikipedia which I would like to share. 

Quote -
Quran regards moon and the sun merely as sign for counting time and days as follows:

2:189 They ask thee concerning the New Moons. Say: They are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men, and for Pilgrimage....

10:5 He it is Who appointed the sun a splendour and the moon a light, and measured for her stages, that ye might know the number of the years, and the reckoning. Allah created not (all) that save in truth. He detaileth the revelations for people who have knowledge.

At the dawn of Islam there were no printed calendars, no watches and the concept of hours and minutes developed some 600 years later. The dates were counted by the year of elephants by watching the moon and the time was calculated by the movement of the sun.
Unquote -
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2011, 02:16:26 am »

BismEm
 Many of them are also openly jealous of the thoroughly Monotheistic principles of Islam.   

Very true sister.  Disbelievers have always been jealous of believers since early times.  Allah Almighty already mentioned it.

"Or are they jealous of mankind because of that which Allah of His bounty hath bestowed upon them ? For We bestowed upon the house of Abraham (of old) the Scripture and wisdom, and We bestowed on them a mighty kingdom." (4:54)
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 07:53:09 pm »

I really like that image you added of Verse 6:96 of Surah Al-Anum.  Looks beautiful beyond words, MashAllah!
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 07:55:08 pm »

Thanks my sis Smiley
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