Islam and Judaism are both religions with faith in one God, and both have widely recognizable star symbols. In Islam a crescent moon circling a five-pointed star has decorated the flags of Muslim countries for several centuries. Judaism's six-pointed Star of David is almost synonymous with the Zionist movement today, but it appears in texts and art of many other religions predating its use in Judaism. Both the five- and six-pointed star are symbols used by religions and governments around the world.
Jewish Star of David
The Star of David is a six-pointed star or hexagram. It is the universal symbol for Judaism today, but only became aligned with Judaism in the 17th century when Jewish houses of worship were identified by placing the hexagram outside. Supposedly the symbol was on King David's shield, but this has never been substantiated. In 1897 the hexagram was adopted by the Zionist movement for a Jewish homeland and today the star graces Israel's flag.
The six-pointed star is actually a common symbol throughout many different religions, including Islam. Muslims know the hexagram as the Seal of Solomon -- both Solomon and David were prophets, and both are mentioned in the Islamic holy book, the Quran. The hexagram appears in Islamic artifacts and mosques worldwide.
Islamic Crescent & Star
A crescent moon and five-pointed star appear on the flags of Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan and Turkey, but it wasn't until the late 18th century that Islamic sultans started using the symbol on their flags. The symbols decorated Islamic money and mosques for centuries. According to the Pakistani Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the "five-rayed star represents light and knowledge" and the crescent stands for progress. In Islam, which follows a lunar calendar for religious holidays, the crescent new moon is also a harbinger of Ramadan.
Stars in Other Religions
Perhaps the oldest example of the six-pointed star is thousands of years old, found in Southern India on the walls of Hindu temples. In Hinduism the hexagram stands for "nara-narayana," the balance of man and god achieved through meditation and resulting in nirvana.. Even Christianity uses the hexagram, calling it the "star of creation." Upon entering the Washington National Cathedral, look up to see the Star of David on the ceiling.
- BBC Religions: Islam At A Glance
- BBC Schools: Religion -- Judaism
- University of Rochester: Department of Religion and Classics -- Crescent and Star
- Mail Online: First look at sketches of the Ground Zero mosque... but why does it appear to be covered in symbols similar to the Jewish Star of David?
- Jewish Virtual Library: Star of David
- Jewish Virtual Library: David - Biblical Jewish King
- Ministry of Information and Broadcasting: Pakistan Flag
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