Crescent moon is NOT a religious Islamic symbol

One often sees the image of a fine crescent moon above the minaret of a mosque in pictures.  This has caused some very absurd and ignorant misinterpretations by non-Muslims claiming that Muslims "worship the moon." 

The crescent moon has NO religious significance whatsoever for Muslims.   Muslims follow the lunar calendar.  As stated in the Glorious Quran, the importance of the moon is only for calculating the number of days in every month.   Similarly the different positions of the sun help to assert the time.

"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."  (10:5)

"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...."  (2:189)

At the dawn of Islam there were no printed calendars, watches or clocks.   The dates were often counted by the 'year of elephant,' the months were determined by observing the moon and the time was calculated by the movement of the sun.  The concept of hours and minutes developed some 500 years later.   In modern times the practical or non-religious reason for occasionally 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.

During the era of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) and the early Muslim communities, there was no concept of the crescent even though the Muslims used the lunar calendar.   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 for the same purpose of identification.

The crescent was a non-religious symbol of the Ottoman Empire, not of Islam.  It was the Turkish Ottoman Empire that began using the crescent as a symbol of their dynasty.

Osman Ghazi, the founder of the Ottoman Empire was a devout Muslim.  There's a story about him that's well-known in history and sounds interesting to listeners.  It's known as the 'sleepless night of Osman' which he spent before taking the throne.

One day, when Osman was 19 years old, his father Ertugrul went to visit a friend with his family where they would stay overnight. Osman went along too. After dinner, the host showed Osman his room and everyone retired for the night. As he was preparing to sleep, Osman noticed the Noble Quran 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 Quran out of the room. So, he decided not to sleep until morning and sat down beside the sofa. But he was unable to stay awake all night and dozed off for a while before Fajr. As he fell asleep, he had a strange dream that left him feeling a bit uneasy. He saw a huge crescent moon rising from his chest and stretching upto the chest of his mentor, Sheikh Edebali. When Osman and his family returned to their village, he recounted this dream to Sheikh Edebali. Edebali smiled and tried to interpret 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. It so happened that Osman did get married to the Sheikh's daughter, Malhoon, and he did become the first ruler of the Ottoman dynasty which ruled over large portions of the Middle East, Turkey and Southern Europe for 600 years. However, this isn't supposed to mean that Sheikh Edebali knew future events. What Osman saw was a random dream and what his mentor said was only a story but happened to come true by the Will of Allah. This episode is widely known to be the reason why the Ottomans chose the crescent to represent their Empire as a harbinger of future conquests.

The Ottomans ruled successfully for hundreds of years and fought many victorious battles against Christian Europe. Thus, the symbol of the crescent moon became linked in the minds of many Europeans as a symbol of Islamic Faith. But this notion is totally incorrect, just as they carry plenty of other incorrect notions of Islam based on their superficial observation and lack of information.

In modern times too, the crescent has no other significance for Muslims except the calculation of months by observing the appearance 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 the 12 months of the Hijri calendar are determined by the appearance of the moon.  This lunar cycle, from new moon to new moon, takes 29 to 30 days to complete. When the crescent moon appears in the sky at its finest, that's the first day of every Islamic month.


  1. This is fantastic, You wouldnt believe how many people dont know this. I myself only found this out a few years ago. Unfortunatley i feel as though that the whole foundation of islamic history is non existent in our lives and that we know more about western history than ours.
    Your artical goes a long way in educating people about such simplictic but factually correct historical points. Great stuff..

  2. Thanks Sadik. I agree. The foundation & beauty of Islamic history has been shattered, partly because of western influence and partly by the distortion of truth by our clerics.

  3. Sallam,
    I dont mean to be naive, but why do you think our clerics/scholars whould do that, what would they gain? I'm just curious as to why you feel so strongly about this?

  4. Walaikum Salaam brother. Our clerics / scholars have since long been manipulating facts, manufacturing laws, writing their own stories and then slipping them into Islam that are completely unwarranted by the Glorious Quran. This practice is similar to the changes introduced by the Jews and Christians distorting Tawheed and its rules. The only difference is that the Jews & Christians have brought in their selected changes directly into their Divine Scriptures, and thus erased the originality of the Torah and Bible. We, Muslims, have introduced our selected interpolations through a separate channel known as Hadith (from which ensue fiqh and shariah)and fatwas. Our clerics & so-called scholars couldn't touch the Glorious Quran because Allah (Subhana Wa'Tala) has Himself has taken the responsibility to protect His Final Message so that it will be a witness against its rejecters on the Day of Judgement. Hence, this also brings up another issue. The fact that the Noble Quran is original and intact and will always stay original is because, as Allah mentions, it is in a "guarded tablet" (Lawh-e-Mahfooz). The Muslims cannot take the credit for preserving the Noble Quran. The credit goes to Allah alone.

    Praise be to Allah Almighty, and peace, love and blessings on the Final Messsenger and Seal of the Prophets.

  5. Sallam,
    Without challenging you, I have to disagree to a certain point. I think hadiths are there to help you understand how Mohammed (SAW) practically followed the Qur'an, for instance namaz and its actions etc. This was meant to help us. Although, in my opinion, each individual has to understand why they do what they do. I take the Qur’an as my first authority, everything else after that becomes questionable, schools of thought, hadith’s and fatwa’s. If any of these things shed more light and understanding in what I read in the Qur'an then great, if not then move on until I find what I’m looking for. This might sound a bit simplistic but it gets me through my day. I think we as Muslims spend way too much time discussing what’s right and wrong that we forget to enjoy the true beauty of Islam, love & respect for one another, appreciate and be grateful for what we have and the fact that we were born in Muslim families. Today I will try my best to be good not just in intention but also in practice, I will appreciate my family and the things around me, I will try my utmost to remember Allah in every moment of my day and I will pray that Allah helps me in my work to bring us Muslims together. I don’t need a scholar to tell me this, this is common sense which is derived from the Qur’an. You obviously feel quite passionate about what you write about, however it comes across as being quite aggressive. Please accept my apologies if I have offended you but I had to say it. Wassalam

  6. Dear brother, it's a pleasure to hear from you. I'll have to break up my response into parts as it going to be a bit lengthy to accommodate together. You are not "challenging" me, brother :) I've devoted too much time in studying my beautiful Faith to find differences a challenge. Alhumdulilah. In fact, Allah has stated in the Quran that differences of opinion are evitable among humans and this is one of our tests in earthly life.

    I agree with most of what you've stated. I'm glad to learn that you take the Quran as your first authority. Majority in our mainstream don't.

    I also agree that if the Hadith adherents are determined to keep the Hadith, let them retain it, but with only those narrations which are compatible with the Glorious Quran and discard the rest. But even this isn't done. I've read the Hadith page by page. The collections of Bukhari, al-Muslim etc. are littered with offensive Ahadith, some insult the Quran, some ridicule the Prophet, some are vulgar, some are hilarious, and many are downright illogical. So, why are these retained? I've asked this question from our imams and those who follow them again and again. No answers. Most of them quietly slip off the back door, and a few throw into a fit calling me a "deviant." The fact is I am only doing what Allah and His Final Messenger have told me to do, that is, to adhere to the Final Message of Allah Almighty and take no other book or source as my guide. And wasn't this the most authetnic instruction of our Prophet (S) as well?

  7. Yes, you are absolutely right, each one of us can interpret matters to the best of our conscience. But prior to that, our conscience needs to be trained & tuned to make it conform with the the principles & values of the Noble Quran. Otherwise it's no good, because conscience left on its own can be decent, indecent or even thoroughly degraded. The important point here is, while we follow our own opinion / conscience, no one is entitled to stamp their opinion as universally correct and make a separate school of thought based on their opinions. Unfortunately, our firebrand clerics, who in many ways are no different from the catholic and jewish clerics, have made their own pirated brands Islam by putting in writing their own views & thoughts, many of which aren't the explanations of the Quran. These are just un-Quranic additions in the name of Islam.

    Furthermore, What I cannot connect with is the view of many (not just you) that Hadith is indispensible to understand the Noble Quran. This notion is the first step toward giving the clerics and upper hand over the Glorious Quran which is unacceptable. The Quran is a standalone Book. There can be no further arguments on that. It sounds "aggressive" to the mainstream Muslims of today because the interpolations of Ahadith & fatwas are centuries old and have by now become an integrated part of Islam in such a way that it has conditioned the minds of the naive faithfuls in a very different dimension by deviating from Quranic values and original teachings of the Prophet (S). Thus, when a perceptive believer picks out the follies of Hadith, the majority consider it "aggressive." It's very much a repetition of the same story of the former Jews and Christians. The hadith of the Christians claim that "Jesus is the son of God." (AstagfarAllah). The majority of the Christians accept this awful falsehood. There are a few who reject it. These few are the true followers of Tawheed who rightly uphold the truth, that Jesus son of Virgin Mary was only a human being and a slave of Alalh Almighty. But the mainstream Christians consider this minority group of truth tellers to be "aggessive." The fact remains, that it's this minority which is on the right path while the majority is wrong.

    While discarding the culture of Hadith, the first question that's always been shot at me has been "if no Hadith then how did we learn to offer salaat?" .. a query which you too didn't overlook. The answer is, dear brother, hadith has not 'taught' us salaat. The basic physical method of salaat was an ongoing process in the Arabian peninsula from the time of Prophet Ibraheem (AS). I have alread penned this topic in detail and you can read it in the following link:

    Reasons why the Quran does not mention the detailed method of salaat

    Similarly, much against the claim of the Hadith followers, the Quran also gives every necessary information on Zakah, Saum and Hajj. Those who still cannot grasp it, that's their problem. But that by no means justifies the intrusion of Hadith with all its complicated lies nor does it justify our deviation from the Final Message of Allah which was the only Message delivered to us by our beloved Prophet (S). Lets' not forget, the Prophet (S) was a strict follower of only the Quran, not Bukhari or Tirmidhi etc. Please check the following links.

    Quran and Zakah or charity

    The Noble Quran on Fasting (Saum)

    The Noble Quran on Hajj (Pilgrimage)


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