Flags trimmed with a crescent
The crescent on the flag
The flags posting a crescent do not exclusively belong to Muslim countries. Indeed, a symbol which would only come under a specific tradition would lose its universal character and be just an emblem or an insignia.
All the flags carrying the crescent associate it to one or several stars, except three of them: the Greenland, Red Crescent and Maldives flags. The flag of Greenland depicts two attached half moons of different colours. They both characterize the half-way moment between the ascent towards light and the descent into obscurity. The Red Crescent flag undeniably is a tracing of the Red Cross flag. As regards the flag of the Maldives, it is adding a star under its presidential form.
Flags trimmed with a crescent
It is obvious that only the crescent and star symbolism, enhanced with colours, can give some meaning to the above flags.
The colours of the flags
The flags presented above resort to several of the following colours: blue, yellow, white, green and red. Only one flag is using the whole colour set, the flag of Comoros. Could such a range have a special meaning ? Without any doubt, for these colours are precisely used to identify the ladder of the seven initiatory degrees of the Islamic tradition.
Thus, for Rumi, progression works according to the following ladder: blue, yellow, red, white, green, blue pale, the last degree being colourless. Indeed, the ultimate degree represents the Principle, source of all things and, in particular, colours. It cannot therefore be the object of any determination.
Another colour ladder provides the following gradation: white (colour of initiation), yellow (true fervour), dark blue (divine favour), green (inner peace), azure (immediate intuition), red (gnosis) and black (divine essence). The last degree gets a colour, but not just anyone. Black symbolizes here the non-manifested, the absence (of colours) representative of the Principle in its pure state.
The colours and mostly the Muslim initiation colour, white, confer to the flags a clearly spiritual character underlined by the presence of the crescent and stars.
According to the observed side, the flag presents a crescent associated with the waxing () or waning moon (). Note that most of the usual representations show the side of the waning moon. Only the flag of Turkmenistan makes obvious the waxing moon. In any case nevertheless, the meaning of the flag carrying a crescent remains closely linked to the symbolism of both moon phases.
The moon movement is taking place on a sphere called lunar and, inside which, the human activity is deployed. The evolution of the human being looks like the moon phases. Limed in his state of obscurity symbolized by the new moon, the being is growing with the brightness of the astral body during the waning phase. At full moon, he can either leave forever the lunar sphere, locus of the human states, to achieve the supra-human states or go back to his obscure existence during the waxing phase.
Going out of the lunar sphere means to leave the apparent light world for the genuine light world. As the moon does nothing but reflect the sunlight, the access to full light has finally to go through a way out from the lunar sphere. However, the being will be able to leave definitively this sphere only after having exhausted, effectively or symbolically, the human possibilities he is carrying within himself. If he has not, he will be condemned to rediscover the obscurity of his condition and go through other human states before undertaking the voyage in the beyond.
For more details on the symbolism of the moon and, more generally, of night and day, see the crescent symbol.
The crescent displayed on the flags is often matching stars, which are reinforcing the symbolism of the human sphere even more.
The stars are reflecting here below the above light which source is full of mysteries. Variable according to the number of branches represented, they symbolize the manifestation of Heaven on Earth as we will see it with the 5, 8, 12 and 14 branched stars sported on various flags.
The five-branched star
The great majority of the preceding flags include one or several 5 branched stars on top of the moon crescent. What does this number 5 mean ?
At the manifestation source lies the Unity or the One that produces 2 (polarity), 2 produce 3 (Unity and polarity) and 3 produce all things. Indeed, the number 4 (bipolarity), generally associated with the square or to the four cardinal points, represents the following step of the manifestation on Earth, which started with 3 and will continue with the successive numbers.
Thus, any manifested being is characterized by the number 4. Associated with the Unity producing him, it generates the number 5 representative of the Principle (1) and its manifestation (4). Then the being becomes a true individual (from “individuum”, i.e. one).
As the human domain is the lunar sphere, the association of the crescent with the 5 branched star characterizes the human world and the beings living in it.
The eight-branched star
The Nepalese flag, made up from a double pennant, reveals in its top flame a horizontal crescent containing a star from which only eight branches are visible. Azerbaijan is the only flag comprising a full 8 branched star.
The number 8, linked up to the four cardinal and intermediary points, represents the manifestation in its full blooming, but not achieved yet. As the number of the octagon, the intermediary figure between square (Earth) and circle (Heaven), 8 depicts the human world in its full development or all the people living in.
The twelve-branched star
The lower flame of the Nepalese flag contains a 12 branched star.
The number 12 evokes the belt of the zodiac signs which encloses the Cosmos. It represents, consequently, the Cosmic world that envelops both the lunar sphere and the world beyond. It includes the human as well as the supra-human possibilities.
The fourteen-branched star
The Malaysian flag contains a blazing 14 branched star. It is commonly admitted that the number 14 of branches of the star and flag stripes portrays the Malaysian Federation's original member states. Nevertheless, Singapore left the Federation in 1965, two years after its founding, but the flag remained unchanged. Could it be that this number has a meaning independent of the number of states composing the federation ? 1
In fact, the number 14 represents the length of the waxing phase preceding the full moon and of the waning phase following it. The full moon corresponds to a climax in the lunar cycle, to a crucial moment where the being can either leave the lunar sphere for a kinder clime or go back to the same sphere and know other human states. The number 14 symbolizes, in fact, the individual evolution process from the lunar sphere.
In a general way, the stars associated with the crescent are always situated inside the bowl, the content of which is rich with all the possibilities.
1 back Given the striking similarity of flags of Malaysia and the United States, it is interesting to note that the same argument, related to the number of states, was put forward in both cases without even looking further for a deeper, or even symbolic, meaning.