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Shi'ite Religious Flags (Iraq)

Last modified: 2024-06-15 by ian macdonald
Keywords: islam | shi'a | shi'ite | kerbala |
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Shia/Shiite national Shahada al-Thalitha flags

[national flags with shahada (Iraq)]  [national flags with shahada (Iraq)] images located by William Garrison, 19 April 2024

I found this image of the above pro-Shia flag at or If I read the data accompanying the photo correctly, it was taken some time in 2015 and presumably somewhere in Iraq.

It mimics the national flag of Iraq (which was adopted in Jan. 2008) with the same tricolor stipes of red/white/black, and the green "takbir" slogan/expression/inscription of "Allahu Akbar" or "Allah is the Greatest (god)" on the middle white stripe However, in between the two green Arabic words there is a black-letter slogan/mantra used by Shia/Shiite Muslims: "We Ash-hedu in Alia Willi Allah" or in English: "I bear witness that Ali is the wali of" ( أشهَدُ أَنّ عَلیاً ولی‌ُّالله), this reflects their belief that Ali, (Muhammad's cousin), was the true political and religious successor (wali = viceregent) to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. "Shia/Shi'ite" means "Followers of Ali" (aka: "Ali ibn Abi Talib", a cousin and son-in-law of the Muslim prophet Mohammad).

On several national flags of Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etc., which tend to be Sunni Muslims) there appears an inscription of the basic "kalima" or "Declaration of Faith" or "shahada" slogan of: "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger" a testimonial declared several times daily by all Muslims. After reciting the Shahada, Shiites add the extra above-mentioned phrase. The Shia refer to their additional "Third Testimonial" to the "kalima" as the "Al-Shahada al-Thalitha" (Arabic: الشَهادَة الثالِثة). This additional Shia slogan expresses their belief in the "wilayat" (guardianship/rule) of Ali (and his succeeding family lineage) over all Muslims. This led to the development of the "Twelver Shiism" movement ("Imamiyya"), which ended when the Twelfth Imam disappeared c. 940 C.E., and no one bothered to formally succeeded him as "The Mahdi". Then, in February 1979, the "Iranian Revolution" overthrew Shah Pahlavi and the Shia Imam Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini usurped control of the Iranian government. As Shiites believe that no Shia-ruling Imam can rule on earth again until "The Mahdi" returns, Khomeini enticed the Shiite-ruling Iranian parliament to implement the political rule of the "velayat-e motlagaye faqih" or the "absolute authority of the jurist", i.e. himself as a ruling substitute for "The Mahdi" until he reappears. When Khomeini died in June 1989 and the Mahdi had not returned to rule, the Iranian parliament voted Ali Khamenei as their new "Supreme Leader" while still awaiting the real Mahdi's return.

Iraq's Muslims are divided between two primary sects: Shia (85%) and Sunni (15%). As this Shia-flag presents such of a pro-Shia "in your face" offensive attitude against Sunni-Muslims, my Sunni contact in Baghdad claims that this flag would not be paraded outside because it would immediately inflame the Sunni. So, this flag is probably displayed primarily at indoor Shiite meetings. During the U.S. March 2003 invasion to overthrow the Sunni leader Saddam Hussein, his Sunni soldiers bitterly fought the U.S. invaders/liberators because, in part, they feared that a succeeding Shia government would seek revenge against the Sunni, who had extensively harmed the majority Shia for opposing the minority-Sunni government. Some Shiites fought against the U.S., too, because they did not want the U.S. to demand that the Shiites give some political representation to the Sunni. During this same era, both sides battled one another, too, in a classic civil war. Let us just say that there is still a lot of animosity between both sects.

While this Shiite "Third Testimonial" contains no specific words that denigrate the Sunni, the Sunni believe that it is still offensive on two heretical theological concepts: (1) that Ali is held comparable to the same "high religious status" as the prophet Mohammad, and (2) that Allah approved Ali (and thereby his descendants) as Mohammad's successor.

Although it lacks the green "Allahu Akbar" expression, a similar image of this flag (developed in April 2013 by "70hassan07" with "DeviantArt) can be found at "Deviant Art" at

 William Garrison, 19 April 2024

Religious Flags at Karbala

Spanish Television mentioned yesterday that shortly before the outbreak of the war, a team of theirs working in Iraq had made a long report on the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala (currently under siege), where the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Husayn is buried. The Shrine of Imam Husayn, a large and highly decorated mosque was shown, flying a large, plain red flag from the top of the highest dome. No other flags were visible over the Shrine. However, another page on Kerbala [no longer on-line] shows a white flag with a black inscription that appears to be a Shahada (Muslim creed), and the caption, "Long live the banner of Islam which was saved by the holy blood of the Martyrs in Kerbala."
Santiago Dotor
, 03 April 2003

Lots of green, red, black, blue and white flags on the Shi'ite march to Karbala.
Francisco Santos
, 21 April 2003

Holy Shrine of Imam Ali

[Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 25 November 2019

Caption: Atop Mt. Kilimanjaro (in Tanzania) a group of Shiite Muslim mountain climbers raise a flag honoring Shiite Imam Ali previously flown at the "Holy Shrine of Imam Ali" located in Najaf, Iraq; , c. July 2016
William Garrison, 25 November 2019

Ali Wali Allah

[Ali Wali Allah (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 15 April 2024

A green-field flag honoring the Shia imam Ali (d. 661 C.E.), who was a cousin and son-in-law to the prophet Mohammad, and the 4th Muslim caliph and the 1st Shia-Muslim "Imam" ("leader"). The Arabic slogan on this c. 2023 flag reads: "Ali Wali Allah" ( علي وليُّ الله ) or in English: "Ali is the chosen guardian of Allah", which the Shia contend that Ali's leadership of the overall Muslim community was a divine decree from Allah (God); as seen outside the "Holy shrine of Imam Ali" in Najaf, Iraq c. 2023.

William Garrison, 15 April 2024

Eid al-Ghadir

[Eid al-Ghadir (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 25 November 2019

Caption: A flag is raised at Shiite Imam Ali's shrine in Najaf, Iraq, on the occasion of Eid-e-Ghadeer. Eid al-Ghadir is a Shia feast, and is considered to be among the "significant" feasts of Shia Islam. The Eid is held on 18 Dhu Al-Hijjah at the time when the Islamic prophet Muhammad was said to have appointed Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor. [an annual event]
William Garrison, 25 November 2019

[Eid al-Ghadir (Iraq)] [Eid al-Ghadir (Iraq)] images located by William Garrison, 2 September 2022

As the auspicious occasion of "Eid Al-Ghadir" is approaching, in a ceremony in Najaf, Iraq, the flag of Ghadir was raised on the dome of Shia-Muslim Imam Ali (AS) holy-shrine mausoleum. On the flag is written "Man Kunto Mawlah Fahaza Aliun Mawlah" ["Whomever I am his Mawla (master) then 'Ali is his Mawla (master)"]; c. 15 July 2022.
William Garrison, 2 September 2022

Since the "مهرجان الغدير الدولي" (English: Al Ghadeer International Festival) is organized by the Badr Organization and Alghadeer TV (a tv channel owned by the former), we should include these attachments in the "Shi'ite Religious Flags" section. It was first held in 2007. It is one of the biggest annual festivals of the media, in which some personalities, institutions, satellite channels, radio stations, etc.

It seems either there are flags for each festival or different variants with no relation one to another design-wise.

For additional information go to Al Ghadeer International Festival (official website):
Esteban Rivera, 2 September 2022

Imam Hussein's martyrdom

[Imam Hussein's martyrdom (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 25 November 2019

Caption: Shiite Muslims walking toward Shiite Imam Hussein's shrine on 40th day of his martyrdom (Arbaeen) from Najaf, Iraq to Karbala, Iraq. [an annual event]
William Garrison, 25 November 2019

Mourning death of Imam Hussain

Seen at
A Shia-Muslim flag showing an image of Imam Hussain, along with a black-robe person holding a red flag mourning the death and martyrdom of Imam Hussain, who was killed at the "Battle of Karbala" in Oct. 680 CE -- as displayed near Falluja, Iraq; c. May 2017.
William Garrison, 25 October 2023

[Imam Hussein Flag (Iraq)] image located by Willliam Garrison, 12 February 2024

A  really big red Shia-Muslim flag (10'x10'?) with many black-colored indiscernible slogans/lamentations commemorating the martyrdom death of Imam Hussein at the Battle of Karbala (c. 680 CE) as paraded by a Shiite pilgrim during the mourning day of Arab'in/Arbaeen in Karbala, Iraq; c. Sept. 2021. The Arbaeen Pilgrimage marks the end of a 40-day mourning period following the day of Ashura, the religious ritual that commemorates the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain.
Willliam Garrison, 12 February 2024

Qamar Bani Hashim Flag

[Imam Hussein's martyrdom (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 27 February 2021


Caption: a red/white "Qamar Bani Hashim" flag; c. Sept. 2017. A Shiite-Muslim flag with the slogan: "Ya Qamar Bani Hashim", which implores that the spirit of "Qamar Bani Hashim" hear the pleas of oppressed Shiite Muslims and ask Allah for his support in their defense. "Qamar Bani Hashim" is also known as "Al-Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib" and "Abu al-Fadhl", and was a son of Ali (who was the first Shia Imam and the fourth Caliph of Sunni Muslims). Abbas/Qamar was killed c. Oct. 680 CE at the Battle of Karbala where he served as the flag carrier for Imam Hussain. He is buried in Karbala, Iraq. In Dec. 2020 it was revealed that Iran had established a new Popular Mobilization Force (Arabic: الحشد الشعبي‎ ... al-Ḥashd ash-Shaʿbī) militia called "Qamar Bani Hashim" in the village of Hatla in eastern Syria; the militia is comprised mainly of Iranian and Afghani fighters and Syrian residents who have adopted Shi'ism.
William Garrison, 27 February 2021

[Imam Hussein's martyrdom (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 31 May 2024

A copy of the "Haram of Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas" red-field flag that is usually flown at his shrine in Karbala, Iraq, as gifted to the "Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society", in June 2017. The white Farsi slogan reads, in English: "Ya/Oh, Qamar Bani Hashem", an epithet/nickname for him meaning: "'moon of the Hashemites" as he is often described as tall and handsome, and having inherited the boldness and bravery of his father "Ali ibn Abi Talib", and always bravely carrying the Ali clan flag on the battlefield. Essentially, this flag represents an appeal to al-Abbas for his spiritual intervention in helping distressed Shiites. There appears to be a hidden flag-pole sleeve at the left hoist side of this flag. The "Al-Abbas Shrine" (Arabic: حَرَم أَبِي ٱلْفَضْل ٱلْعَبَّاس, romanized: Ḥaram ʿAbī al-Faḍl al-ʿAbbās) is the mausoleum of "Abbas ibn Ali" and a mosque, located near the "Imam Husayn Mosque" in Karbala, Iraq. Abbas was the son of "Ali ibn Abi Talib" and the half-brother of Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn/Hussain.
William Garrison, 31 May 2024

Other Shi'ite Religious Flags

An incident in Baghdad reported in the Washington Post of August 14, 2003, ("Flag Is Flash Point In A Baghdad Slum: Perceived Insult Ignites Anti-U.S. Unrest," by Anthony Shadid, p. 11) has some interesting information on religious flags displayed by Iraqi Shi'ites. The August 13 incident arose when a U.S. military helicopter knocked down a flag that Shi'ites had placed on a transmission tower in Sadr City (formerly Saddam City), the huge, Shi'ite populated slum in Baghdad. US commanders have apologized for the incident, which led to the killing of one Iraqi. The article mentions the following flags:

  • "... black flag that fluttered atop the tower, inscribed in white letters with the name of one of Shiite Islam's most revered figures."
  • "... this is our faith. This flag, it represents our faith."
  • "Footage of the incident aired by the satellite news channel Al- Arabiya clearly showed a helicopter hovering for several seconds near the flag, which bore an inscription of a 9th Century descendant of the prophet Muhammad known as the Mahdi."
  • "Within hours, youths had climbed the transmission tower, bedecking it in red, green, white and black flags, colors symbolic of suffering and martyrdom and resonant in Shiite Islam. Most bore the inscription of the Mahdi, and youths waved the flags past sunset."
Comment: The Mahdi ("guided one") in this context is Muhammad al- Muntazar (meaning "the Expected One"), the 12th and last of the imams recognized by mainstream Shi'a Islam. He is also referred to the "hidden imam" and the "lord of the age." An eleventh generation descendant of the prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, Muhammad al-Muntazar is said to have disappeared in A.D. 878 into the cave above which the great mosque of Samarra now stands. Shi'a faithful believe he is still hiding in the cave and will return in the final days to restore true Islam and spread the faith to the entire world. It is not clear from the news report exactly what the inscription on the flag said, whether just the name or one or more of the Mahdi's titles as well.
Joseph McMillan, 15 August 2003

Shia Battle Flags

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image by Eugene Ipavec, 23 Nov 2010

A flag sold on Ebay. The seller claims that his army team discovered that this fabric-banner was used as a 'battle flag' by the Iraqi-Shia-cleric 'Sadr Army' uprising against the U.S.-led military occupation forces in Iraq. True, M. Sadr (a young Shia religious-political leader friendly with the Iranian fundamentalist government) was also rebelling against the Shia-lead government of Iraq.

Anyway, this fabric item isn't so much of a 'flag' as it is a portion cut from a long bolt of cloth with a repeating religious design. While I don't read Arabic, from my other insights, this design appears to honor the tomb-shrine of the major Shia 'saint': Imam Hussain/Husayin -- who was killed at the battle of Kerbala/Karbala about 730 C.E. Perhaps this American soldier/unit tore it off of some makeshift flagpole, or perhaps merely ripped it down off some wall (because there appear to be tear marks in the upper left & right corners of this item). Anyway, some Shia militiaman might have just grabbed this (or any) religious fabric and made an impromptu "flag."
William Garrison
, 23 Nov 2010

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image by Eugene Ipavec, 12 December 2010

A flag sold on Ebay. The seller claims his U.S. Army unit captured it during some battle/raid involving Shia militants who were opposing the U.S.-led military 'occupation' of Iraq. As I mentioned in an earlier email, this piece of fabric contains some slogans honoring (most likely) some Shia religious figure (saint), such as their Imam Hussain/Husyain (depending upon your preferred spelling of Arabic words). Interesting, this fabric/flag uses 3 different styles or script of Arabic. Normally, this fabric comes from a bolt of cloth (as in making a dress, etc.), from which you cut off the portion you want -- to hang in a mosque or at home. I'm not too sure how 'picky' you want to be in defining what a 'flag' is; if a piece of design-cloth is carried/waved by a militiaman does it make the fabric a 'flag'? I suppose some enthusiastic militant could have torn this down off a wall and tacked it to some makeshift flag-pole to taunt the soldiers.
William Garrison, 23 November 2010

This banner/flag pertains to the Shia/Shiite-Muslim martyr ("shaheed") "Hazrat al-Abbas", who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 CE. "Al-Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib" was also known as "Abu al-Fadl" ("Father of Virtue"). He was the son of "Ali ibn Abi Talib", the fourth caliph in Sunni Islam and the first imam in Shia Islam. Abbas fought as the standard-bearer of his half-brother "Husayn/Hussain ibn Ali" in the "Battle of Karbala" in Oct. 680. He was killed in a desperate attempt to bring water from the Euphrates River to quench the unbearable thirst of besieged family members living in their tent encampment. The top red line translates as: "Peace be upon you, O stalker of the thirsty of Karbala". The middle green line reads: "May peace be upon you, Oh, moon of Bani Hashim", as one of his epithets was "Qamar Bani Hashim" (lit. 'moon of the Hashemites'), as he is often described as tall and handsome. The bottom white line reads: "Oh, Allah, bless the martyr Imam Abbas."
William Garrison
, 6 January 2024

Popular Mobilization Militia Unit

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 18 October 2017

Flag, Iraq, Shia Muslim, Popular Mobilization Militia Unit, outside Kirkuk, c. Oct. 2017. Several different flags are shown. I believe that neither white flag refers to a specific militia unit, but is a generic Shiite Muslim flag that can be used in many different Shia religious parades. In general, these religious-oriented flags are beseeching Shia martyr Imam Husain/Hussein (killed at "Battle of Karbala/Kerbala") to help some Shiite cause in overcoming some adversary.
William Garrison, 18 October 2017

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 3 September 2021

Iraqi Shiite militants wave flags near the town of Jurf al-Sakhr, Iraq on 30 October 2014. I believe the top green flag shows Hazrat Abbas, the left black one shows Imam Husain, while I cannot translate the yellow one.
William Garrison, 3 September 2021

Imam Hussain/Hussein, Ashura memorial ceremony

Seen at

An Iraqi Shiite Muslim fixes a huge black flag beside colorful ones in a street of Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Kazemiya 22 February 2004. Muslim Shiites in Iraq started preparations to mark Ashura, the day when Imam al-Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed was killed in Karbala, 100 kms south of Baghdad, in 680 AD. The Shiites will freely mark Ashura 02 March 2004 for the first time since the ouster of Saddam Hussein. AFP PHOTO/Marwan NAAMANI (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

The middle line reads: "Ya, Hussain" or "Oh, Hussain", which is an appeal to Shia religious martyr Imam Hussain (sometimes spelled "al-Hussein" depending upon Arabic or Farsi) to come to the assistance of oppressed Shiite Muslims.

William Garrison
, 11 November 2019

Seen at

A Shiite flag depicting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's cousin Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (center) and his two sons Imam Hussein/Husain (right) and his brother, Abbas (left with the hat feathers), near Baghdad on the way towards the central holy Iraqi city of Karbala on October 26, 2018, ahead of the Arbaeen religious festival which marks the 40th day after Ashura, which commemorates the seventh century killing and martyrdom of the revered Imam Hussein/Husain. (Photo by Ahmad AL-RUBAYE / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)
William Garrison, 3 September 2021

Seen at 

A Shiite-Muslim religious flag depicting Imam Husain/Hussein; c. Jan. 2011 near Karbala, Iraq.
William Garrison, 3 September 2021

[Imam Husain Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 23 February 2022

There are two flags (with the Iraq national flag in the middle) that appear to be related to the [Shia-Muslim] "Imam Hussein Holy Shrine" at a conference on March 28, 2017 at the Karbala, Iraq shrine. The red flag appears to show a yellow logo of the shrine, while the green flag has a "khamsa" or "hamza" (hand logo) of the Husayn/Hussain family. The "Imam Husayn Shrine" or the "Place of Imam Husayn ibn Ali" ( Maqām al-ʾImām al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlīy) .
William Garrison, 23 February 2022

Twelver Shiites

[Twelver Shiites Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 23 May 2024

A "Twelver Shiites" flag, showing the 12 Shiite imams (religious leaders), as seen in Karbala, Iraq; c. 2019. The top-right figure wearing two white-feathers in his helmet is Hazrat Abbas, and at the left is an image of his half-brother, Imam Hussain (both were killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE). Below Hussain's name is the red Farsi word "al-huda" meaning "guidance" (of the Shiite imams). Below Abbas' name is the red Farsi word of "al-imams" meaning "the (Shiite) Imams". Combined, these two words essentially make the slogan: "Follow the teachings of these religious leaders." I believe the Golden Dome building is that of the "Imam Ali Shrine" (sanctuary or mosque) in Najaf, Iraq.
William Garrison, 23 May 2024

Twelver Shiites: 7th Imam Musa al-Kazim

[Twelver Shiites Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 22 March 2024

A green-field flag honoring the 7th and 9th Twelver Shia Imams; as seen at the Al-Kazimiyya Mosque in the Kadhimayn suburb of Baghdad, Iraq; c. 2023. At the top of the flag are the two golden domes atop the shrines of the 7th imam "Musa ibn Jafar al-Kazim" (aka al-Kadhim) [died 799 CE] and his grandson the 9th imam "Mohamad al-Jawad." Musa had the nickname of "al-Kazim" which means "forbearing" in reference to his patience and his demeanor. "Al-Kazim" and the Arabic wording "suppression of anger" appear in the middle line. Both imams were religious leaders who served under the Abbasid caliphs (political rulers). The bottom line reads loosely as: "We are followers of the Kazimiyya family".
William Garrison, 22 March 2024

Twelver Shiites: 'The Mahdi's Return Appeal' flag

[Twelver Shiites Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 29 April 2024

For a Shia-Muslim religious celebration, an orange-field flag with three white-lettered slogans that was paraded at an Imam Mahdi birth anniversary at the "Jamkaran Holy Mosque" (Masjed-e Jamkaran) that is located east of Qom City, Iraq; c. March 2024. The top slogan reads (translated into English): "Oh, Allah hurry up", the middle slogan reads: "Here you go, Mahdi", and the bottom slogan reads: "The world is waiting for you, Mahdi". The Muslim prophet Muhammad revealed the holy book: the Quran. Shias consider Muhammad's descendants (through Imam Ali and Imam Hussain) as the true source of religious and political guidance for Muslims (although Sunni-Muslims reject the leadership of the Hussain lineage). The last "Twelver Shiite" Imam was "Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi" who disappeared about 940 CE; Shiites believe he went into a physical state of theological hibernation or "occultation" [it is believed that he fell into a water well and disappeared] and will re-emerge at the "end of time" to establish peace and justice and redeem Islam. So, it is in the tradition of Shiites during their fasting month of Ramadan to appeal to Allah to allow the immediate return of "The Mahdi" so that he can finally establish world peace. Per Wikipedia: "In the rear of the mosque, there is a "well of requests" where it is believed the Twelfth Imam once "became miraculously unhidden for a brief shining moment of loving communion with his Creator." Pilgrims tie small strings in a knot around the grids covering the holy well, which they hope will be received by the Imam Mahdi. Every morning custodians cut off the strings from the previous day. Tuesday night is especially popular as it is said to be "the day the vision appeared and therefore the day of the week that [the Imam], although invisible, takes requests." The gathering "resembles a huge tailgate party where vendors set up in the parking lots and families set up picnic rugs and tens-of-thousands wander about the grounds as if waiting for the main event to happen. .... [W]omen are separated from men in their own special cordoned-off area and also have their own [wishing] well."

[Info: and]

 William Garrison, 29 April 2024

Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary militia force

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 27 July 2021

From, caption: white-field flag with orange trim and slogan with "bleeding sword" image --- usually associated with Shia-Muslims. Seen in Baghdad, Iraq; 4 Jan. 2020 during funeral procession for assassinated Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani. Possibly affiliated with Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary militia force.
William Garrison, 27 July 2021

Ya Hussain flag

[Ya Husain Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 3 September 2021

From The red slogan on the flag reads "Ya Hussain" ["Oh, Hussain"], which is an appeal that he intercede favorably with the flag holder. He was the third Shia Imam, and who was martyred in Karbala, Iraq c. Oct. 680 CE. The faintly readable wording above "Ya Hussain" is a famous hadith of Prophet Muhammad that reads: "Inn al-Husain misbahul-huda wa safinatun-najat" that symbolically means that "Husain is the lighthouse of Islamic guidance for the lost ships [souls} and he is their rescue ship."
William Garrison, 3 September 2021

See also: Yā Hussain flag in Iran

[Ya Husain Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 9 January 2023

A rose-red-field Shia-Muslim flag beseeching in the middle green Farsi slogan: "Oh, Hussain", with more slogans in the four yellow rectangular boxes. The slogan in the top right yellow box reads: "Peace Be Upon Hussain", while the other three remaining boxes all have the same slogan: "and the children of Hussain"; c. 1999. A hidden flag-pole sleeve is at the right (hoist). Imam Hussain was killed at the Battle of Karbala in 680 C.E. along with two of his young sons, and other supporters. Essentially, this flag implores the spirit of Hussain to assist the flag carrier to overcome some burden.
William Garrison, 9 January 2023

Ya Zinab al-Kobra

[Ya Zinab al-Kobra Flag (Iran)] image located by William Garrison, 29 December 2023

A red-field flag with the white Persian/Farsi slogan "Ya Zinab al-Kobra/Kubra" perhaps better known as "Zaynab bint Ali". Zaynab (c 626682), was the eldest daughter ("bint") of Fatimah and Imam Ali, and was the granddaughter of the Muslim prophet Mohammad. She is best known for her role in the aftermath of the "Battle of Karbala" (680CE), in which her brother Hussain/Husayn and most of her male relatives were massacred by the forces of the Umayyad caliph Yazid ibn Muawiyah. Women and children in Husayn's camp were taken captive after the battle and marched to the Umayyad capital Damascus, where Zaynab gave impassioned speeches, condemning Yazid and spreading the news of Karbala. She was later freed and died shortly afterwards in 682. A shrine is dedicated to her in Damascus. She is considered to be a symbol of sacrifice, strength, and piety in Islam, and a role model for Muslim women, typifying courage, leadership, and defiance against oppression. The flag's hoist is most likely on its right. This flag was seen draping the coffin of Iranian Brig. Gen. Razi Mousavi, a senior commander in the "Quds Force" of Iran's "Islamic Revolution Guard Corps" (IRGC) [who was killed on December 25, 2023, in an Israeli airstrike outside Damascus] during his funeral procession at the Imam Ali shrine in Iraq's holy city of Najaf on December 27, 2023. During Mousavi's burial ceremony in Tehran, his coffin was draped with the national flag of Iran. Various Shiite militias operating in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria are named after her. Essentially, this flag is an appeal by its carrier asking Zaynab to spiritually intervene in supporting the Shiite flag bearer's cause in overcoming some disorder.
William Garrison, 29 December 2023

Sadiq Al-Sadr martyr flag

[Sadiq Al-Sadr martyr flag] image located by William Garrison, 13 November 2022

A white-field flag with a facial drawing of Sayyid "Mohammad Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr" (or 'Sadir'} {b. 1943 - d. 1999}. He was a Grand Ayatollah for Shia-Muslims in Iraq. During the reign of Iraq Pres. Saddam Hussein (dictator: 1979-2003, and a Sunni-Muslim), Sadiq called for government reform and asked for the release of detained Shia leaders. Saddam saw Sadiq as a potential political threat, and allegedly had a "hit squad" assassinate Sadiq and two of his sons on 23 March 1999. His youngest son, "Muqtada al-Sadr" survived, (b. 1974) would oppose the U.S. intervention in Iraq (c. 2003-2011) and later (c.2018-2022) was an influential political leader in Baghdad. Below his portrait his name "Sadr" {in Arabic} appears, and the red lettering reads: "the honor of the Arabs." This flag was paraded on March 9, 2022 to denounce rising prices of basic food items in Al-Haboby/Al-Habboubi Square in the center of the city of Nasiriyah in the southern Dhi Qar province of Iraq. While the flag honors Sadiq Al-Sadr and is more of a religious Shia-Muslim flag, here it is being used as a "protest" flag against an ineffective government.
William Garrison, 13 November 2022

Abbas 'Waterer of Thirsty Ones' memorial flag

[Abbas 'Waterer of Thirsty Ones' memorial flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 28 April 2024

A black-field flag (2.45m x 3.5m) with a blood-red "Thuluth" script/calligraphy that reads: "Ya Saqi 'Atacha Karbala" or in English: "Oh, Waterer of thirsty ones in Karbala", which is printed on both sides. "Saqi" or "al-Saqqa" means "the water carrier"; it is a nickname of Al-Abbas. During the "Battle of Karbala" in Iraq in Oct. 680 C.E., Al-Abbas was killed in his desperate attempt to bring water from the Euphrates River to quench the unbearable thirst of the besieged family of the Islamic prophet Mohammad's descendants (including Imam Hussain and family). His full name was: "Al-Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib". This particular flag was produced (c. Sept. 2015) to fly above his shrine ("Haram Aba al-Fadl al-Abbas") in Karbala on the eve of first Muharram to mark the beginning of the "month of sorrows" (lamenting the deaths of the Shia-Muslim members killed at the "Battle of Karbala"); c. Oct. 2015 in Karbala, Iraq.
William Garrison
, 28 April 2024

The Google search string below provides several photos showing its construction at:
William Garrison, 31 May 2024

Hazrat Abbas' horse Uqab

[Hazrat Abbas' horse Uqab Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 21 March 2024

Because of the pictured two-prong sword call "Zulfiqar" on this flag it readily identifies that this flag is related to Shia-Muslims. The bottom Farsi slogan reads: "al'ahrar" or "Free (people)". The top line in Farsi essentially notes that the flag carrier implores Hazrat ["holiness"] Abbas for assistance in protecting or freeing Shia-Muslims (Shiites) from oppression. His full name was: "Al-Abbas ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib" which identified him as being the son of "Ali ibn Abi Talib", who was the fourth caliph [political ruler] in Sunni Islam and the first imam [religious ruler] in Shia Islam. He was killed along with his half-brother Imam Hussain/Husayn at the Battle of Karbala, c. Oct. 680 C.E. He is remembered for his attempting to draw water from a nearby river and carry it to the thirsty children of his tribe. His kunya (nickname) was "Abu al-Fadi" or "Father of Virtue". One needs to understand Shia theology to understand the showing of the imagery of a horse of this flag. Shiites recognize this horse's name as "Uqab" ("eagle). Shia sources claim that this horse was used by the Muslim prophet Muhammad himself, who later gave it to caliph/imam Ali, who then passed it on to Abbas. The hoist is on the right side of this flag. Information:
William Garrison, 21 March 2024

Abbas: How can I drink? (Battle of Karbala)

[Abbas Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 4 October 2023

A colorful Shia-Muslim prayer-appeal flag with slogans of: "Peace be upon you, Aba Al-Fadl Al-Abbas" and "How can I drink when my brother Hussein is thirsty?" To keep a long story short, at the "Battle of Karbala" in Iraq in October 680 CE, the Shia/Shi'ite-Muslim tribal-leader, Hussain, was killed. Also, his half-brother, Abbas, had his hands chopped off by the enemy while trying to gather water; he, too, was later killed. This flag depicts a scene showing Abbas momentarily contemplating drinking some water at a nearby stream, but hesitates in realization that he needs to take the water quickly back to camp to his brother Hussein and the thirsty children in the camp -- and just before his hands are chopped off by the enemy as he lingers too long. Abbas is willing to sacrifice the quenching of his thirst by refusing to drink the water in order to quickly return his water-skin to camp. Shia-Muslims consider Abbas to be a religious "martyr" ("shahid/shaeed") for having been wounded and dying in his effort to obtain water for others. On the flag, one can see that there is a white/tan area where his hands should be, but artistic license has taken a "time warp" in both showing where-his-hands-should-be and removing his amputated hands at the same time. Thus, the slogans on the flag: the top one uttered today by pious Shia-Muslims beseeching Abbas' spiritual intervention, and second, his selfless, sacrificial lamentation.
William Garrison, 4 October 2023

Al-Abbas flag

Seen at
A red-field religious flag carried my Shiite-Muslims throughout the Middle East. The yellow-green slogan on the flag reads: "Ya Abal-Fazl Al-Abbas". Above "Abbas" there is a barely discernable slogan that reads: "Qamar Bani-Hashim". "Qamar Bani-Hashim" means "Moon of Bani-Hashim Tribe" near Quraish/Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In Arabic literature a "handsome man" is called "Qamar". The "Man in the Moon" expression symbolizes a beautiful face. In Shiite theology, al-Abbas was known as having a beautiful face, hence, his having the nickname of "Qamar". Al-Abbas was the brother of the third Shiite Imam Husain/Hussein, and al-Abbas was the flag bearer of Husain's army at the Battle of Karbala -- where both were martyred (c. 680 CE). Essentially, this flag is an appeal by its carrier asking al-Abbas to spiritually intervene in supporting the Shiite flag bearer's cause in overcoming some disorder.
William Garrison, 3 September 2021

Oh, Qamar Bani Hashem

Anti-ISIS flag

[Anti-ISIS Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 25 October 2023

This flag is not associated with any specific PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces) Shia militia in Iraq.

What is of interest with this flag is how the prominent displaying of a sword allows a viewer to immediately identify this flag as being used by Shia/Shiite-Muslims. The 2-prong sword is easily recognizable as the "Zulfiqar" sword, which supposedly was given by the Muslim Prophet Mohammed to his loyalist "Alī ibn Abī Ṭālib", and, thereby, conferring Ali has his successor in leading the Muslim community. The slogan on the sword reads: "There is no sword like the Zulfiqar, there is no fata/leader like Ali." [Zulfiqar is also spelled Zu al-Faqar, Zulfakar, Dhu al-Faqar, or Dhulfaqar, or even Zolfighar.] The word "Shia" derives from the Arabic term "Shīʿat ʿAlī", meaning "partisans of Ali", "followers of Ali" or "faction of Ali". Shiites believe that after the death of Hazrat Ali, the Zulfiqar sword was inherited by Imam Hassan (the oldest son of Hazrat Ali), and he passed it on to his son Imam Hussain -- thereby symbolizing the transferring of the leadership of the Muslim community to him. Hussain used it during the "Battle of Karbala" (Oct. 680 CE) in fighting against a much-larger Sunni-Muslim army but was killed. Contrarily, the Sunni maintain that the political and theological leadership of Muslims should not be inherited, but through consultation -- or by battle when power-sharing cannot be peacefully settled. At Karbala: the Shia lost, the Sunni won. Nonetheless, today's (c. 2023) Shia ruling class (of Iran) believe that they are still the true heirs of the leadership of the Muslim community -- even though they comprise about only 15% of all Muslims. The Sunni ruling class (of Saudi Arabia) disagree. As the Sunni control the two most important Islamic religious sites, the holy Kabba shrine in Mecca and the gravesite of Mohammed in Medina, they claim that they are the proper leaders of Islam. The relevance of this is that after the U.S. overthrew Saddam in late 2003, shortly thereafter several Salafi-Sunni militant jihadist groups (al-Qaida, ISIL, ISIS) emerged as proponents of a truer, purer Islam. These "hard core" Sunni were opposed to what they considered to be the meek Sunni leadership of the government of Saudi Arabia for having lost its zeal in militantly promoting Islam throughout the world. In response to the Salafist-Sunni threat, the Shia parade this flag; c. 2010 (Iraq-Iran).

The portrait on this flag is that of Shia Imam Hussain, who wielded the Zulfiqar sword, which is dripping droplets of the blood of Hussain's opponents. As Farsi/Persian is read right-to-left, this is the front side of the flag for reading the Farsi/Persian slogans correctly. The top three red Farsi/Persian words read: یبقی الحسین امامی or "yabqa al-Husaino amami" meaning: "Husain will stay in my front" or for an expanded meaning: "I will remember Imam Husain and will stay following him going forward" in promoting Shia-Islam. Regarding the wording on the bottom line, we need to know that the Arabic/Farsi word "daesh" refers to "ISIS" -- a very terrorizing Sunni militia in Shia- dominant Iraq during the 2010s-era. The line reads: و داعش تحت اقدامی or "wa daesh tat-a aqdami" or "ISIS will be under my feet". In Muslim culture, the bottom of the foot is regarded as not only being dirty but also unclean or filthy. We have seen photographs of some hunter posing with his foot atop some big-game animal that he recently killed, symbolizing his control over that animal. Thusly, the last sentence reflects the Shia theological goal of defeating and vanquishing the pro-Sunni ISIS. Few flags specifically mention the daesh or ISIS.

William Garrison, 25 October 2023

Miscellaneous unidentified Shia flags

An article in the Independent contains a slide show with several flags with Shia connections:
David Phillips, 11 June 2016

The images below were seen at the attack on Mosul:

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

[Shia Battle Flag (Iraq)] image located by Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

This set of pictures takes place during the Battle of Mosul (2016), which was preceded by the Mosul Offensive (2016) in which multiple parties take place (Sunni, Shiite, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians) as well as a multi national coalition (
Esteban Rivera, 8 November 2016

There are many different Shia-religious flags that are paraded around by Shia/Shiite-Muslims. Today there are hundreds of them, usually with just slightly different images of their main imam/saint: Imam Hussein ibn Ali. The artwork of these flags is limited only by the creativity and imagination of Shia artists. Hence, I am somewhat reluctant to submit any more of their religious flags, but their artistry is interesting.
William Garrison, 12 September 2022

[Shia Flag (Iraq)] image located by William Garrison, 12 September 2022

From, a black-field flag bearing an image of the Shia-Muslim Imam Hussein bin Ali [with the Arabic slogan "Yalatharat al-Hussein" ("Those who want to avenge the blood of Hussein")] carried while en route to Karbala, Iraq from Nasiriyah in Iraq's southern Dhi Qar province on Sept. 5, 2022, ahead of the religious holiday of "Arbaeen". The holy day commemorates the 40th day after the "Day of Ashura": the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. 2022 is the first year since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic that Shiite pilgrims can enter Iraq in large numbers and without restrictions. Its impact/importance: About 5 million pilgrims have entered Iraq so far [early Sept. 2022], and the number is rising significantly. The Iranian Interior Ministry announced that all borders with Iraq were closed today [9 Sept 2022] and called on Iranians to refrain from traveling to Iraq due to Iraq's inability to receive any more pilgrims. It also called on all Iranian pilgrims inside Iraq to return to Iran as soon as they finish the ceremony to open space for others to attend.
William Garrison, 12 September 2022