I remember the death of the Sultan of Oman, ‘Qaboos Bin Saeed ‘ in 2020. All Arab countries respectfully lowered their flags to half-mast, except for Saudi Arabia.
They also declared three days of mourning for the departed Sultan.
This event got me wondering. Why does Saudi Arabia refuse to follow this custom by not lowering its flag on the death of the king, leader, or dignitary?
Most news commentators will tell you it’s because the Islamic Testimony of Faith appears on the Saudi flag.
They claim that lowering the flag would be blasphemy. The truth is it is not. However, it is a huge insult to Muslims.
Inscribed on the flag are the Arabic words:
لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
(There Is No God Except For Allah, And Mohammed Is Allah’s Messenger.)The Islamic Declaration of Faith
The Islamic Testimony of Faith (Shahada) has the name of Allah (SWT) and Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
It is also the first of the five pillars of Islam.
Click On the following Inside Saudi’s article that explains the symbols and deeper meanings contained in the Saudi flag. What Does The Writing On The Saudi Flag Mean?
Observers declare that Muslims would never deliberately lower the names of Allah (SWT) or our beloved Prophet Mohammed to mourn the death of a human being.
They explain that lowering the names of Allah (SWT) and Prophet (SAW) to pay tribute to a human being in such a way is disrespectful to Muslims.
Unfortunately, these commentators fail to explain enough why and how such an act feels so objectionable.
Words: 1,630– Reading Time: 5:30 Mins
So, Why Exactly Won’t Saudi Arabia Lower Or Fly Its National Flag At Half Mast?
Saudi Arabia views lowering the national flag to mourn human beings as a great insult to the Islamic faith and an attack on religious sensibilities. Muslims revere God, Allah (SWT), and love Prophet Mohammed (SAW) dearly, as expressed in the Declaration of Faith inscribed on the flag.
So, Muslims regard it not as blasphemy but as outrageous and an attack on their faith.
In Saudi Arabia, anyone who purposefully lowers the Saudi flag can receive a one-year prison sentence and a fine of SR 30,000 ($8,000).
However, why and how does this symbolic act cause them to react so strongly?
Muslims Feel Deep Love For Allah (SWT) And Prophet Mohammed (SAW)
The reasons for the deeply felt reactions are that worship of Allah (SWT) and love for Prophet Mohammed (SAW) are at the heart of the Islamic faith.
Each day and in every one of the five prayers, 1.9 billion Muslims formally declare that there is no God besides Allah (SWT). Allah is ONE and is the highest.
They further testify that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is Allah’s Messenger to humanity.
Islam began with Allah (SAW) choosing Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to receive the Holy Quran via revelations from Angel Gabriel more than 1,400 years ago.
Prophet Mohammed (SAW) lived a perfect Muslim life in words, actions, and religious insights. He provides Muslims with the best model by which they shape their lives.
To become the best Muslim, Islam urges us to follow Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) example in everything he believes, says, and does.
Muslims wholeheartedly believe in Allah (SWT) and adore their beloved Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
The Misuse of Allah’s (SWT) And Prophet Mohammed’s (SAW) Name
More generally, if anyone lowers, misuses, or mistreats an item that carries the name of Allah (SWT) and Prophet Mohammed (SAW), Muslims regard this as disrespectful and feel deeply offended.
For this reason, Muslims avoid printing the Saudi flag on tee shirts, cups, towels, stickers, banners, etc.
Equally, mistreating, trampling over, sitting, or piling books on and misusing the name of Allah (SWT), the Holy Quran (Book of Allah), and the name of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is a punishable violation.
Such actions insult the Islamic faith, are sure to inflame Muslim sentiments, and result in imprisonment and a hefty fine.
Salman Rushdie’s blasphemous words in his Satanic Verses and Charlie Hebo’s caricaturing of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) are perfect examples of such outrageous violations.
First True Story-Trampling On The Name of Allah
The following story illustrates the Muslim strength of feeling in this matter.
In the summer of 2022, I (this author) was in the middle of a busy outdoor market in Casablanca, Morocco.
A stranger, a young religious Muslim man, approached me carrying a pair of old plastic sandals.
Excitedly, he requested me to take off my sandals and wear his plastic ones. Confused, I asked him why.
He replied that the sandals of a well-known brand I had on my feet bore the name of Allah (SWT) on the outsole.
“Take them off, and I will show you,“ he urged.
Further confused, I took off my sandals, put on his old plastic ones, and showed him mine.
He turned them over and pointed out what appeared to be the name of Allah (SWT) in Arabic inscribed on the heel part of the outsole of both sandals.
Sure enough, etched in the sole grips, I saw the name of Allah (SWT).
Excitedly, the young man explained that the French manufacturers had deliberately put it there. He continued in Arabic, “They are in cahoots with the Zionists. They want us to trample on the name of Allah (SWT).”
I respectfully agreed with him, swore not to wear them, put my sandals in a carrier bag, and thanked him for pointing out this fact. I left before promising him I would return his old plastic sandals as soon as possible.
My sandals are excellent quality, and I continue to wear them today. At the same time, I made sure to modify the name of Allah (SWT) that the French company accidentally manufactured.
Second True Story-Footballs Bearing The Saudi Flag
In 2007, in their so-called efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, the US occupying military printed images of the Saudi flag on footballs and dropped them from helicopters to excited kids on the ground below.
They had air-dropped dozens of free footballs for the enjoyment of children in the Khost province.
On the balls, they printed the flag of Saudi Arabia containing the Shahada and various flags of other nations.
The military felt surprised when the Afghan people felt deeply insulted by this apparent show of generosity. It eventually led to big street protests in the Khost province.
Representatives of the US military announced that they had NO idea the Afghans would take their goodwill in the wrong way.
They did not recognise that the Declaration of Faith printed on the footballs would likely offend even ordinary Afghans.
An Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini explained, “You can’t kick around a verse from the Holy Quran. It is a HUGE insult to any Muslim around the world.”
A US military spokesperson apologized for the oversight.
Unfortunately, the same US spokespeople have still failed to express any regret for their desecration of copies of the Holy Quran in Guantánamo Bay, the continued lampooning of the character of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) in the western media, and the killing of countless Afghan citizens during their illegal invasion and occupation of that country.
What Does The Islamic Testimony of Faith Mean To Muslims?
On The Saudi Flag Inscribed on the flag are the Arabic words: لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله
Spoken: ‘Lair Eelairha Eee Allah, Mohammedan Rasoolu Allah.
English: There Is No God Except For Allah And Mohammed (SAW) is His Messenger.
These words form the basis of the principle of the Oneness of Allah (Tawheed), a set of beliefs that lie at the heart of the Islamic faith. They are also the spoken words of the Testimony of Faith uttered by a person who swears to this reality and those who enter Islam for the first time.
To hear the Islamic Testimony of Faith spoken click on the following brief audio.
Can Muslims Salute Their National Flags?
Muslims only bow or prostrate to God (Allah). It is a major sin in Islam for Muslims to bow to anything other than God (Allah).
For example, they should not salute or worship a flag, statues, pictures, photos, animals, symbols, people, kings, leaders, angels, demons, and the like.
Also, out of deference for the words inscribed on the Saudi flag, it MUST NOT be inverted, bowed to, worn, dirtied, disrespected, left to deteriorate, walked on, used as a cover, table cloth, etc.
Muslims do not bow to nor allow the Saudi flag to be lowered to other people/things out of their conviction of the meaning of words written on it; that is the fundamental principle of Tawheed.
Tawheed means nothing is to be associated with God (Allah), least of all a flag, a piece of cloth with no intrinsic value.
References And Useful Links
Qaboos bin Said- Sultan of Oman- Wikipedia
Saudi: Our Flag Must Not Be Lowered-Middle East Monitor
Three days of mourning for Sultan Qaboos- Gulf News