On March 20, the Taliban finally decided what their flag would be. Back in August 2021, the Taliban booted the US out of Afghanistan. So, six months later, they issued a decree banning the black, red, and green banner in place of one in white with black lettering that says, "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet." Muslims recognize the legend as the first of the five pillars of Islam that all new converts must say to be recognized as believers.
The fact is that Afghanistan has changed its flags 30 times in 102 years. No country in the "twentieth century" has changed its flags more often. In 1919 alone, the flag was revised six times. Of course, Afghanistan's government has changed almost that frequently. It was an emirate (1842-1926), a kingdom (1926-1929), an emirate again (1929), a kingdom again (1929-1973), a republic (1973-1978), a socialist republic (1978-1987), a republic again (1987-1992), an Islamic State (1992-2001), a republic again (2001-2021) and finally back to an Islamic State.
Flags recognizable as such were the invention of the ancient peoples of the Indian subcontinent or what is now China. Flags are symbolic of the people in power. They represent a country's values, people, and culture. Flags can be emotional. People still fight and die for their country's flags.
From 1901 until 1929, the Afghan flags were black with white emblems indicating the emirate's domain. The emblem in the center was a mosque with a prayer niche and altar. In some sequences, there would also be a wreath, swords, sheaves of wheat, two flags, sun rays, and a few inscriptions.
The global preference of colors for flags is red, blue, and white. Twenty-nine countries have those colors, with the US, the UK, and Russia being the most recognized. Red has been the primary color of almost all Afghan flags; not surprisingly, it was solid red during the communist regime.
From 1929 until 1992 and from 2002 until 2021, Afghan flags followed a three-color field of black, red, and green with white or black insignias. There are different stories as to what the three colors stood for. One description suggests the black color represents Afghanistan's troubled past, the instability, and the war it has experienced. The red color represents the blood of those who fought for its independence, and the green represents hope and prosperity for the future. Green is also the color of Islam and it could be implied that Islam is an important part of the country's history and culture.
Another story suggests that British soldier and diplomat Mark Sykes designed the tricolor flag to symbolize the 1916 Arab revolt. During this time, many flags in Europe were using the tricolor horizontal panels, and Sykes followed suit, using the Weimar-era German flag from 1919 as a model. Sykes assigned colors to represent the three great Islamic dynasties; black for the ʿAbbāsids, who were known for carrying Muhammad's black banner into battle; the Umayyads chose white flags by contrast, and green was the color of the Fāṭimid dynasty and eventually became the color of Islam. The red color was representative of the Khārijites, an Islamic tribe known for their puritanism and fanaticism. Although the Afghans are not of Arab origin, their flag used colors to represent the Arab tribes of Islam.
Since the Taliban won the right to choose their flag, their story is worth repeating. The Taliban chose the white flag to symbolize "the purity of Taliban's faith and government."
credit: Wikipedia Commons