I know the current flag used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is black with white letters stating: "There is no God but Allah" and in the middle of a white circle in black letters the words: "Allah Messenger and Mohammad"... The handwriting reminds me of the style of seal which was pretended to be used by the Prophet Mohammad!

On the other hand Islam is often related to the color green!

ISIL flag
Yascine - Public Domain

Has this flag ever been used by any Muslim groups before?

Does it have any proven historical background?

  • 3
    It's a variant of a common jihadist design that could be traced through Al-Qæda and the Taliban to Pashtun traditions. They are ultimately inspired by the Black Standard of Muhammad.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


The flag is known as the Black Standard of Muhammad. There are many variants of the flag, and as far as I can tell the variant used by ISIS is original, but other variants have been used by many groups before.

The flag can either be a pure black flag, or it may have the Shahada ("There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.") printed on it in white.

  • A pure black flag was used by the Abassid Caliphate from the 8th century through the 16th, the Hotaki Empire in the 18th century, and Afghanistan in the late 19th century.

Black Standard
PaD - Public Domain

  • An inverted Black Standard is used by the Taliban.

Taliban flag
Lexicon - Public Domain

  • Several different variants have been used by modern Islamist and jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and the Islamic Courts Union.

al-Qaeda flag
Lexicon - Public Domain

  • And a variant of the flag is used by ISIL.

ISIL flag
Yascine - Public Domain

  • 2
    Good job i thought as it is an Islamic flag they would use green color as in most modern flags green seems to refer to Islam!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 11:54
  • 1
    Do all three flags have the same text written on them? The writing on the two in the middle is similar enough I assume it's only differing stylistically; but text on the ISIL flag looks very different to my non-Arabic-reading eyes. Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 18:33
  • 1
    @DanNeely I don't read Arabic either, but I believe it is the same text, just highly stylized.
    – Gwen
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    The white flag is still used by the taliban: ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/52EE/production/… is a picture from a few days ago when the Taliban took over Kunduz
    – user45891
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 19:41
  • 1
    @SJuan76 it seemed not to be a satisfactory answer therefore i waited a few days if there are other interpretations. As the so called black standard of Mohammad was unknown to me!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 9:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.