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  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

Daily Photo–Middle Eastern Moon

Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon

My husband and I have this ongoing debate about the in the Middle Eastern Moon, specifically the crescent phase. It sounds strange when I write it, but I think the moon is oriented differently here: it’s oriented horizontally rather than vertically like it is in the United States. I am not sure, but I remark about it every month–every crescent phase of the moon as though it were the very first time I noticed it. You can imagine this gets pretty annoying. I am sure there is a very logical explanation for this occurrence–if it even is an occurence at all. Maybe I just never noticed that the crescent moon can, at times, be upside down in the US?! Maybe it changes with the seasons? If anyone knows, please tell me so I can stop going all Archie Bunker meets alzheimers on my poor husband once or twice a month. Me: “Have you ever noticed how the moon is upside down here in the Middle East?” Husband: “Yes, you say that every month.”

I was on my way somewhere yesterday when another really interesting mosque in Al Shahama (northern part of Abu Dhabi. I have mentioned it here) caught my eye. I stopped for a photo because, like that question referenced above, this is just something I always do whenever I am alone, and know that no one will groan when I take a long–well honestly more like 5—long pitstop(s) for a photo. The patterns and metalwork on the gates draw me in like a crow to a shiny object. I stopped and I took a bunch of normal shots of this mosque. When I neared the base of the minaret, I noticed that upside down moon perched over the crescent moon symbol there in the broad daylight! (And, yes, I do know that seeing the moon in the daytime is a normal occurrence–that was for dramatic effect.;)

Crescent Moon Symbol in Islam?

Crescent Moon Symbol?

It made me then wonder about how the image of the crescent moon became so linked to Islam. I was very nearly a Religion major in college, and I took a lot of classes on Islam. I really don’t remember much sadly but I do remember that, according to the Hadiths (collection of binding religous decisions), it is a sin to use anything as a symbol of Allah. So, the crescent moon is not a symbol of Islam at all, but yet it’s everywhere. And I think if you polled most westerners, we would say that it is indeed a symbol of Islam as much as the cross is to Christianity. There is not a lot of information about this on the internet–none, at least, that seems too credible. Some sites seem to link the crescent moon to 13th century Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), but I am sure it goes farther back than that given all the handovers that lovely city has experienced. Some sites seem to link it to the Greek goddess of the moon, Artemis (Diana, Latin). I don’t know, but I am surprised there is so little information about it. Isn’t anyone else curious?

With all that, I offer this Middle Eastern Moon photo. I am not sure if there is anyone out there as interested in whether our moon is upside down or not here in the Middle East, or what the crescent moon signifies in Islam, but it’s on my mind. You have no doubt noticed by now that what’s on my mind winds up on my blog, for better or worse.

Moon over Al Shahama Mosque

Moon over Al Shahama Mosque


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