Crescent and Star – The Ancient Meaning Behind This Symbol

Crescent and Star
The crescent and star have been widely related to Islam, and you can see them in mosques. However, Islam does not officially claim it to be their symbol. The crescent and atar have a long history, predating the Islamic faith, originating in Sumeria, Greece, and Byzantium.

Besides Islam, Christianity also historically reveres the crescent and star symbols. The crusaders even used it in their seals. Also, these symbols are related to pagan gods and goddesses as well. 

Many Islamic countries use this crescent and star in their national flags or emblems. Let’s examine the other stories and symbols behind the Crescent and Star. 

crescent and star
The crescent and star emoji is commonly used among the Muslim community.

The Unofficial Symbol of Islam – History of the Crescent and Star as an Islamic Symbol

It’s fairly well-known that Islam does not support image or symbol worship. The crescent and star, though related majorly to this religion, don’t have a direct link to spirituality or faith in Islam. It’s more of a mark of identification. 

According to many anthropologists, the crescent and star became an emblem for the Muslims to counter the emblem of the Christians, the holy Cross. Some date this back to the crusades. 

Many Muslim scholars oppose using this symbol as it has pagan roots, and thus accepting it is similar to idol worship. Nonetheless, the crescent moon has been widespread in Islam. In the Islamic calendar, it marks the commencement of a new year. 

An Unofficial Ramadan Symbol

Besides that, the crescent moon is also an indicator of certain Islamic festivals like Ramadan. Yet, historically there is no connection between the star and crescent with Islam. It has evolved as a cultural and political symbol rather than an expression of faith. 

However, the Quran has a portion on the moon and the star. The moon has been described as a symbol of the harbinger of the day of judgment. Some believers relate it to the Symbol of Allah.

crescent and star
An artistic depiction of the crescent and star

Moon and Star Symbol Spiritual Meaning 

Celestial bodies have been a part of spiritual activities since ancient times. The moon and star symbols are no exception. The crescent and star symbol has a spiritual lineage beginning from Sumeria. Many believe these symbols originated over there. 

Since the tribal societies in Central Asia, people in the Middle East worshipped pagan gods and goddesses like the sun, moon, and sky, making the cultural connection stronger. Ancient rock paintings confirmed that the moon is linked with the god Sin, and the star is related to the goddess Ishtar.   

When the star is placed beside the crescent, it also has a separate meaning. The crescent is symbolic of the moon, and the star represents Venus. Together they are a symbol of power.

Greco-Roman Symbolism

In Greece also, you can find the presence of the crescent and the star. It’s the representation of the moon goddesses Luna and Diana. The star is above the crescent, which is pointed upwards. It also symbolized female purity and virginity. 

In ancient Rome, the crescent and star had much significance. It was related to goddess Hecate. Even Christians associated the star and crescent symbol with the crusades. Many seals and coins found by crusaders bore these symbols. 

History of the Crescent and Star Symbol

To trace the history of the crescent and star symbols, you’d have to go to Byzantium, which patronized the symbols for a long time.

Greco-Roman History

Being a Greek colony, the Byzantine Empire also believed in many Greek gods and goddesses. One such revered goddess was Hecate – the moon goddess. Byzantium adopted the crescent as a part of its Empire. 

Later in 330 CE, Roman Emperor Constantine chose Byzantium as a part of New Rome. Byzantium came to be known as Constantinople. However, the lineage of the crescent moon remained. A star was added to the symbol in honor of the Virgin Mary. Eventually, the Roman Emperor even made Christianity the official religion in the city. 

Ottoman Use of the Crescent and Star

You can understand that the modern-day star and crescent symbol has its historical origins in Byzantium, which the Ottoman Empire later conquered in 1453.

The Ottomans invaded Constantinople and adopted the star and crescent symbol. Osman, the Ottoman conqueror, believed the moon was a good omen and used it as the official symbol of his dynasty. 

Much later, during the war between Hungarians and Ottomans, and even during later crusades, the crescent and star were a symbol used by the Islamic armies. Since then, it was linked with the Muslims. At the same time, the Christian armies used the cross as their emblem. 

Present-Day Use of the Islamic Symbol – Political Use

Since the crescent and star have become linked to Muslim symbolism, this symbol is presently used politically. You can find mosques decorated with star and crescent symbols. It is also a part of Islamic jewelry, and many women prefer wearing the star and crescent earrings. 

Besides, countries with Islam as their official religion use the symbol in their national life. From flags to emblems, Pakistan, Mauritania, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Malaysia, and Azerbaijan uses crescent and star. 

One Exception – Singapore

One exception is Singapore’s flag. Although Islam is not their official religion, it bears crescent moon and star symbols.

You can see the upright crescent moon alongside the ring of stars. “A young nation on the ascendant” is what the crescent in the flag symbolizes. However, the stars are representatives of the country’s ideals, like peace, justice, equality, democracy, and progress. 

Besides that, many Muslim businesses and establishments also use the star and crescent logos. Since the crescent and star as Islamic symbols are debated today, many Muslims even reject them.

crescent and star
Turkey’s flag features the crescent and star symbol.

Which National Flags Use a Crescent and Star?

Some were mentioned earlier, but the crescent and star are used on the following national flags:

  • Pakistan
  • Malaysia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Mauritania
  • Lybia
  • Algeria
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
  • Algeria
  • Um al-Quwain
  • Northern Cyprus

The crescent and star symbol has its origin in ancient Greece and Sumeria. Since then, it has been incorporated and adapted in many ways by various empires. Eventually, with the Turkish invasion, the symbol became a part of the Islamic tradition. However, it is not an official symbol of Muslims. 


Vanessa's liberal arts background has prepared her well for Symbol Scholar. A self-proclaimed theology nerd, Vanessa has interests in world religions, Reformation theology, history, and more. When she's not working, Vanessa enjoys spending time with her family, reading, exercising, and watching professional basketball.

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