Do you know what main symbols of Islam are? Or what are the pillars of Islamic faith? Let’s find out together here.
Every religion has its own symbols. They were formed and shaped throughout the centuries, and now when we see them, we can easily recognize them. The symbols of Islam are the star and crescent. Interestingly enough these two symbols did not originate from Islam at all.
These two symbols came to Islam in the Middle Ages from one of the Turkish groups. As a result, they spread among the other Muslim nations with almost no changes added. Some people claim that this is only used a label to put on Muslims to stand out of the rest of the religions. However, unlike what people say Muslims do not believe that these two symbols are sacred in any way.
Muslims do have moon symbol on all of their minarets; they have an exceptional attitude to this sign. But they do not worship it. These symbols have as much reason to worship it as the symbols of any other religions do. It is far from being sacred, yet it has a powerful meaning in itself. But we will talk about it later.
You will not find this symbol anywhere in the Quran or any other places that contain instructions on what should represent Islam as a separate religion. So, a lot of people believe that they were there originally, Muslims should not have them as a visual representation. Nevertheless, Muslims only worship the God of Quran and not the god of the moon. So, no worries should be raised here.
The history of these symbols is quite extensive. However, it became widely popular in the 19th century when Ottoman Empire was in the days of its prosperity. As you know, this symbol still can be found on the flag of the Republic of Turkey with a few changes added to it. Apart from Turkey, other countries also saved these symbols. For instance, among the other countries are Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. During different time periods, the flags of Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Malaysia had them too.
They say the usage of these two symbols is rooted to the time of Israel. Back then it was associated with Moabites and Sumerians. It was often chosen as a part of icons.
Nevertheless, there are other sources that claim that no precise date can be established to prove this point. The thing all of the scientists agree on is that these symbols were used when pagans worshiped gods of the skies, moon, and sun. There is also a suggestion that these two symbols that are now representing Islam were first used as a symbol that stood for a goddess Greeks worshiped. Her name was Diana, and she was the goddess of the moon.
Later, theses symbols became an official sign of Byzantium (which was also known as Istanbul and Constantinople in the history). This symbol was also chosen for honor of the Diana goddess that was a guardian of the city.
Some scholars associate the symbols of Islam religion with the battle between Goths and Romans. Back then the latter won, and since this event took place on the first day of a lunar month, moon and crescent were chosen to represent the Roman army from that time on.
When talking about the times when these symbols came to the Muslim society, then it was many years later. The first Islam followers had no symbols that represented their religion unlike Buddhists, Christians, and others. They only had a tradition to cover their camels with cloth of different color when they were going through the dessert to be able to identify their country of origin and religion. On top of that, Muslim armies had flags of these same colors. The colors were black, green, or white. Right until the times of Ottoman Empire came, this was a common practice. They only had simple flags and no symbols whatsoever.
However, with Ottoman Empire these sacred symbols of Islam first came into being. It started when Turks took over Istanbul. They decided to keep the already existing flag with its symbols.
The legend says that the leader of the Ottoman Empire had a dream in which the symbols of Istanbul of the time being were stretched all over the earth. He took it as a sign and decided to keep the symbols to have this “prophecy” come to being.
Unlike the common misunderstanding, the crescent with its five angles did not stand for five main pillars of Islam. At least it was not mean so in the beginning. Moreover, the first crescent did not have five sides precisely. It only was saved in this shape later.
Considering the power, Ottoman Empire used to have and some wars it started against the Christian Europe, it is now clear how the idea of a moon and crescent on their flag became so surely associated in the minds of people with Islam. However, as the history shows, in the beginning, Islam had no signs at all.
Since we have already started talking about the pillars of Islam that were mistakenly seen in the number of the sides of the crescent, let’s shortly observe what they are.
Five known pillars of Islam are:
1. Faith. This faith is declared in a standard statement that goes in Arabic like this “لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله.” Its literal translation is There is no god but God (and) Muhammad is the messenger of God.” Everyone who considers himself to be a Muslim has to believe in this and declare this statement. Otherwise, you cannot be considered a Muslim.
2. Prayer. Muslim believe that the prayer has to be said five times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. Each prayer has its special name. These names are defined by the time of the day they are said. For instance, the first prayer called “Fajr” is supposed to be said before the sunrise, the second one – Dhuhr – is said when the sun is beyond its highest point, etc.
3. Charity. This pillar is mandatory to all the Muslims. They have to share. This is considered a part of the process of growth and purification. That is why to encourage growing wealth one has to learn how to distribute money and save up throughout the year. However, there is an additional charity giving. This act of charity is absolutely volunteering, and it is up to a Muslim whether he wants to give extra money to the poor or needy. With this law, they underline the fact that everything belongs to God, and He intends to share the wealth with all the people.
4. Fasting. There is more than just one type of fasting for Muslims. This pillar offers them a range of options. The most widely known one is the fasting during Ramadan month. During this time Muslims have to fast. They have to stay away from food from dawn until night hours. This time should be dedicated to thinking over one’s sinfulness. One should spend time in prayer and meditation and ask God for forgiveness.
5. Pilgrimage to Mecca. Finally, this pillar is paramount to each Muslim. This ritual is obligatory to all the Muslims that have no severe disabilities. They have to visit this place at least once in their life. When close to Mecca, Muslims have to put on special white clothing. Among other things that are essential for Muslims are walking seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, touching the Black Stone, walking seven times around Tawaf, and stoning the devil. Muslims that visited Mecca at least once are called Haji. They are believed to be very special. The major goal of this pilgrimage is to seek self-improvement through dealing with difficulties on the way to the Holy Places.
This is what you need to know about the Islamic holy symbols and a full list of pillars that shape Islam as a religion.
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