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Q: So last week, we told you about the crescent moon being the symbol of Islam. What about green? Why is the color green so closely associated with the religion? What’s up with that?

A: Green is considered the traditional color of Islam mainly because it brings to mind nature. The Prophet Mohammed, who founded Islam, is quoted in Muslim holy books as saying that “water, greenery and a beautiful face” were good things. Mohammed also is reputed to have worn a green head covering (though, of course, with the prohibition on making images or cartoons of Mohammed, there’s not much printed evidence of this). Because of all this, green was used on the flags of Islam and as the main color in battlefield flags — indeed, the most common Islamic flag is a plain green field.

Another association comes in the Quran, in which a passage reads “the people of paradise will wear green garments of fine silk.” Green isn’t just used for flags and clothes in Islam, it’s also usually the dominant color of a mosque, most often through its tiles. It’s also a repeated color theme in Islamic art. According to several sources, green is more closely associated with the Sunni sect of Islam, instead of the Shiite sect.

If you happen upon a place with a lot of stone mounds and plain green flags flying from sticks, you’re likely in a cemetery. The green flags in Afghanistan, for example, are said to mark the graves of “martyrs,” though it’s more and more common to see any grave marked with such a flag.

Got a question about goings-on in the Mideast? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil

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