Holiday Symbols

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Muslim Holiday Symbols

Here are some suggestions of symbols for Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr.

1. Crescent moon and star

Apart from being the international symbol of Islam, the crescent moon and star symbolize that Muslim holidays follow a lunar calendar helping to understand why their dates change every year.

2. Lanterns

In some Muslim cultures, lanterns are heavily associated with Ramadan. A possible reason for this is that Ramadan’s traditions take place at night; before electricity, lanterns were needed to provide light at nighttime. Symbolically, light is a relevant concept to many holidays, Ramadan included.

3. Ramadan Drummer

In almost every Muslim culture, Ramadan drummers are present. Their job is to wake people up before dawn so they can eat some food before a day of fasting. Their upbeat songs symbolize celebration.

4. 8 Pointed Star

The 8 pointed star is one of the most prominent symbols in Islamic art and architecture and there are several theories on what it possibly means. Our favourite analysis comes from Emma Clark, an expert on Islamic gardens, from her book The Art of the Islamic Garden. Clark states that in the 10th century, Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi drew a diagram called “Plain of Assembly” which was a picture of the Day of Judgement. In the centre of his diagram he drew an 8 pointed star to represent God’s throne (arsh). The reason why he chose an 8 pointed star is because the Quran states that on the Day of Judgment, 8 angels will flank Allah’s throne (69:17). In this way, the 8 pointed star represents God’s Throne. But, God’s throne is itself a symbol of hope. This is because when God created the heavens and the earth, He rose over His throne and inscribed on it “my mercy supersedes my wrath” suggesting one should never lose hope in His mercy. For more on the throne from a theological perspective here (episodes 4-8). Never heard of or seen this symbol in Muslim cultures before? Have a look at our Pinterest board with over 70 examples of the 8 pointed star from several different Muslim cultures.

5. Dates

Dates symbolize fasting as they’re used to both begin and end the fast.

6. Prayer Rug

On our site, we refer to prayer rugs as magic carpets or flying carpets. If you’re uncomfortable with the word “magic”, you can plainly call them prayer rugs because we always depict our carpets with a mihrabarch in the middle, clearly indicating that it’s a prayer rug. Flying carpets were used in Muslim folk tales as an allusion to the story of Prophet Suleiman and his mat that could travel by wind as mentioned in the Quran (commentary of Ibn Kathir 21:81 and 34:12.) The magic carpet in Disney’s Aladdin was inspired from these Muslim folk tales. We like to call them magic carpets to help North American kids understand how something from their American culture (Aladdin’s magic carpet) relates back to their Muslim identity.  Literally, our “magic carpets” represent the tradition of night prayers and the tradition of Eid prayers. Symbolically, they represent humility.

7. Mosques

Mosques represent community. On our site you’ll mainly see us represent mosques inspired by the Persian style (meaning they will always have domes.)

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