The Peace Corps has three main goals, with the Third Goal focusing on bringing our host countries to our readership. With that being said, understanding my host country is exceedingly important to me, and one of my own goals is to bring a deeper understanding of everything Morocco to all of my readers. “Moroccan Mondays” are blog posts specifically catered to educating all of you about my host country, not necessarily the Peace Corps.
“Mabel, do you remember what the Moroccan flag looks like,” I asked my two-year-old cousin from the front seat of my uncle’s 4Runner.
She stared intently at me from her car seat, digging deep to remember every detail of the flag I showed her the previous day.
“A red flag with a green star,” she stated, knowing she got it right.
“Yes, that is right! It’s a red flag with a green star! You’re a GENIUS,” I exclaimed.
I stared at her for a minute, thinking about the Moroccan flag. It’s so simple–a crimson banner with a green pentagram in the center–but do I really know anything about it? There are 195 independent countries on earth, each with their own flags, yet do we ever stop to really consider the significance of each flag? If I intend to truly immerse myself in this country for the next 27 months of my life, I need to understand its flag on a deeper level. I’d also like to point out that someone 20 years my junior essentially guided me to this realization.
In its most basic form, the flag of the Kingdom of Morocco is a red rectangle with a black-bordered green pentagram in the center. However, the simplistic appearance of this flag does not mean it has simplistic meaning: the green pentagram represents the Seal of Solomon, and the flag’s crimson coloring has considerable historic significance.
The Seal of Solomon
Generally depicted by either a pentagram or hexagram (often called the Star of David), the Seal of Solomon is the signet ring attributed to King Solomon in Jewish and Islamic tradition. It is said that this ring gave Solomon the power to command genies, control demons, and even speak to animals. The legend of the Seal of Solomon came predominantly from medieval Arabic writers, who claimed that the ring was given to the king directly from God himself. Made of brass and iron, the two metals were used to control good and evil spirits, respectively. Due to Solomon’s proverbial wisdom, his signet ring became a symbol of magic and alchemy during the Renaissance.
The green coloring within the Seal of Solomon represents the color of Islam. In the Quran, green is associated with paradise. In the 12th century, green was chosen as the primary dynastic color by the Shiite Fatimids, as opposed to the black color chosen by the Sunni Abbasids.
In Morocco, red proclaims the descent of the royal Alaouite family from the prophet Muhammad via Fatimah, the wife of Ali, the fourth Muslim Caliph. Red is also the color that was used by the sharifs of Mecca and the imams of Yemen. When Morocco was ruled by the Alaouite dynasty in the 17th century, the country’s flag was solid red. However, during the reign of Mulay Yusef in 1915, the green pentagram was added to the national flag.
Ultimately, Morocco’s relationship with its flag is a deep one: the red background represents strength and bravery, while the green star represents love and hope. While under French and Spanish rule, the national flag was forcibly taken from the Moroccans, leaving them feeling a loss of identity. The people on this planet each reside in countries where national flags generally add to their identities, and I personally can’t imagine having the flag of the United States taken from me. Fortunately, when Morocco regained independence in 1956, that crimson-and-green banner was restored as the national flag. To this day, the red coloring reminds Moroccans of the great adversity they once overcame in order to reclaim their nation, and that lone green star evokes the love they feel for their exquisite kingdom.