Symbols of Faith

There are very few symbols in Islam; however some are significant such as the colour green, some numbers and, in the Shi’ah school of thought, the double-pointed sword of Imam ‘Ali and a piece of earth known as the turbah.

Although the star and crescent typically seen on mosque domes and some flags have come to be associated with Islam, they do not originate from Islam. In fact, their use is seen by some as controversial.

Some objects used widely by Muslims such as the rosary beads (masbahah), prayer hats and prayer mats have come to symbolise Islam in the West. However, the objects themselves do not have any religious symbolism. A Muslim might wear certain passages from the Qur’an in his or her necklace, men might wear a prayer hat and rings with stones, some might carry the masbahah all the time and some will hang it on their car mirrors, as well as Qur’anic passages and other supplications.

The double-pointed sword of the Prophet which he gave to his cousin and son-in-law Imam ‘Ali symbolises the loyalty and devotion of his followers who came to be known as Shi’ah ‘Ali (the followers of ‘Äli). Some Shi’ah wear the two-pointed sword as a symbol of their loyalty to the Imam.

The turbah is used by Shi’ah Muslims to place their foreheads upon when they pray. The turbah’s significance is that it represents the martyrdom of the 3rd Imam al-Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It also represents the cycle of life; the two prostrations on the earth symbolise being created from earth and the return to earth after death.

According to most Muslims, the colour green is significant as the prophet used to wear a green turban and it has been used ever since on flags for example to represent Islam.

According to some Muslims, some numbers have religious symbolism. For example, 786 equates with ‘In the Name of God’ (Bismillah).

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