Last modified: 2023-05-20 by ian macdonald
Keywords: afghanistan | islamic republic of afghanistan | coat of arms (mosque) | shahada |
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by Juan Manuel Villascan
Flag adopted 4 January 2004.
Date on flag: 1298 = 1919 C.E.
I visited the Afghan Embassy in Tokyo today. They confirmed that they first hoisted a new flag on December 7th 2004 at President Karzai's inauguration ceremony and introduced the flag as the new national flag of the newly born Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since then. The details of the coat-of-arms and flag are regulated in Chapter I, Article no. 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan adopted on January 4th 2004 and signed by Karzai as President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan at that time on January 26th 2004.
Differences from the flag of the Transitional Authority:
The Afghan flag is made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right perpendicularly. The width of every colored piece is equal to half of its length. The national emblem is located in the center of the flag. The national emblem of the state of Afghanistan is composed of Mehrab and Pulpit in white color. Two flags are located on its sides. In the upper-middle part of the insignia the sacred phrase of There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet and Allah is Great are placed along with a rising sun. The word Afghanistan and the year 1298 (solar calendar) are located in the lower part of the insignia. The emblem is encircled with two branches of wheat. The law shall regulate the use of national flag and emblem.
Nozomi Kariyasu, 12 January 2005
The Afghan Government has created a draft version of the new
Constitution for this nation. It will still be called the Islamic Republic of
"Article Nineteen Ch. 1, Art. 19
The Afghan flag is made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right perpendicularly.
The width of every colored piece is equal to half of its length. The national insignia is located in the center of the flag. The national insignia of the state of Afghanistan is composed of Mehrab and pulpit in white color. Two flags are located on its two sides. In the upper-middle part of the insignia the sacred phrase of “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet, and Allah is Great” is placed, along with a rising sun. The word “Afghanistan” and year 1298 (solar calendar) is located in the lower part of the insignia. The insignia is encircled with two branches of wheat. The law shall regulate the use of national flag and emblem."
To put it in simple terms, the design of the bars is vertically black, red, and green. The coat of arms is white, not gold as reported several times. The seal is not that much different, but the wording at the bottom of a scroll is gone. The nation name and the rising sun is new, and I have no idea if the words "God is Great" is going under the Muslim statement of faith, or next to it. A image should be provided soon.
Zachary Harden, 3 November 2003
Actually, the name of the state is what is now on the scroll; I read the
description as meaning that this will be replaced by the word Afghanistan alone.
And I'm not altogether sure that the rising sun is new; mightn't the rays
emanating from the scroll and embracing the date below the mihrab be the rising
sun to which the draft refers? Since the rest of the emblem remains as is, it's
a good bet that the Takbir (God is Great) will continue to appear beneath the
Dari and Pashtu version of the draft
says it will have "the word 'Afghanistan'", same spelling in both languages.
Joe McMillan, 4 November 2003
The colours used on the flag are Red: Pantone 186 C 100%; Green: Pantone 3425
C 100%; Black: Process Black C 100%; White: Process Black C 0%.
Juan Manuel Villascan, 6 January 2006
The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags
and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag
designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for
their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm
version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the
official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC
believed the flag to be. For Afghanistan, PMS 348 green, 485 red, and black. The
vertical version is simply the flag turned through 90 degrees, the black on top.
Ian Sumner, 10 October 2012
Article Nineteen (on page 8 at
describes the flag:
"The flag of Afghanistan shall be made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed from left to right vertically. The width of every color shall be half of its length, and at the center of which the national insignia shall be located. The national insignia of Afghanistan shall be comprised of an emblem and a pulpit in white color—at the two corners of which are two flags, inscribed in the top middle the holy phrase “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet, and Allah is Great.” This shall be inscribed and superseded on rays of a rising sun, and in its lower part, the year 1919 in the solar calendar, and the word “Afghanistan” encircled on two sides by sheaves of wheat shall be inscribed. The law shall regulate the use of the flag and insignia."
Zoltan Horvath, 18 January 2014
With a flag as complex as the Afghan, and its recent history, it is no surprise that several variations are found in actual manufactured flags. These include:
Patrick Fisher, 25 July 2005, André Coutanche, 26 September 2005, Juan Manuel Villascan, 6 January 2006, Klaus-Michael Schneider, 3 July 2009, Jan-Patrick Fischer, 26 January 2010, Jonathan Dixon, 3 May 2012, Pete Loeser, 16 September 2014, Zachary Harden, 22 September 2014
At the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai he was addressing
parliament. Behind him were about a dozen Afghan national flags with the central
emblem in gold. However, to the left of the video, is an Afghan flag that has
the white arms and also the arms overlapping over all 3 stripes. The flags
behind President Karzai have the golden arms and they are about 1/2 the size of
the red stripe. The ratio seems to be 1x2 for the golden armed flags, but I
cannot tell with the white armed flags.
James Dignan and Zachary Harden, 19 November 2009
image by BlinxCat, 24 November 2021
Apparently some sources claim that from 2004 until 2013, The National Flag of
Afghanistan had a smaller emblem and was "enlarged" in 2013 per an Afghan
Government website, however I'm unable to track anything online involving the
emblem being enlarged. The image at the top of this page shows the Afghan flag
with an enlarged emblem being adopted in 2004 and not having any form of smaller
emblem flag existing from 2004-2013. The first source to claim a "2004-2013"
flag was Wikipedia, which makes me assume that Wikipedia members assumed that a
more-fitting image of the Afghanistan Flag was a brand new design. I know the
supposed "2003-2013" flag is a hugely common variant produced by Flag Companies
(mainly 3rd party ones from China or Taiwan) and was common in Afghanistan
before the Fall of Kabul in August 2021.
BlinxCat, 24 November 2021
After a couple of years, it still seems the belief in the "2004-2013" flag is
strong; in fact, places like Wikipedia in many ways attempt to claim the
existence of such a flag, yet there are no sources implying any change was ever
made in 2013; their source for the Afghan tricolor description is ironically the
2004 constitution but also, most importantly, a photo of the erroneous flag that
clearly uses the Wikipedia artstyle being used by the Afghan Border Police, and
as I have explained before, from 2004 until 2021, the national flag was not
changed. The flag used during the transitional era of 2002–2004 did have a small
emblem, but even that had many variants. Wikipedia reports a variant or an
erroneous flag made around the 2004–2013 era was a supposed actually adopted
flag. Nothing in any Afghan laws mentions a change to the flag in 2013, as the
constitution defines the flag as the following: "The flag of Afghanistan shall
be made up of three equal parts, with black, red and green colors juxtaposed
from left to right vertically. The width of every color shall be half of its
length, and at the center of which the national insignia shall be located. The
national insignia of Afghanistan shall be comprised of an emblem and a pulpit in
white color—at the two corners of which are two flags, inscribed in the top
middle the holy phrase "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his Prophet,
and Allah is Great." This shall be inscribed and superseded on rays of a rising
sun, and in its lower part, the year 1919 in the solar calendar, and the word
"Afghanistan" encircled on two sides by sheaves of wheat shall be inscribed. The
law shall regulate the use of the flag and insignia."
This was the official description of the flag from 2004–2021; however, the vague description does not give a proper explanation of the size of the emblem on the center of the flag. The website at http://president.gov.af/en/flag/ (available on the Internet Archive) also depicted an image of the flag with the properly enlarged overlapping emblem; therefore, this implies the flag's emblem was supposed to be enlarged from the start.
Some flag manufacturers that are "third parties" and not major ones use Wikipedia as sources for printable vector graphics. This means a lot of flags supplied in and outside of Afghanistan used this poorly made variant, which gained wide usage. Major companies (Annin, for example) use the enlarged overlapping arms.
BlinxCat, 5 April 2023
image by Jaume Ollé, coloured by Eugene Ipavec, 11 August 2005, based on www.af
The coloured version of the coat of arms, as shown on www.af
Esteban Rivera, 11 August 2005
image by Jaume Ollé
The white version of the coat of arms, as seen on the flag.
The inscriptions on the arms are:
According to this website, quoting an AFP news of 29 January 2002 via the Times of India:
Border affairs ministry official Abdul Wakil Omari said the three colours of the flag represented a different page in the history of Afghanistan. The black represented the 19th century era when Afghanistan was occupied and did not have independence, red marked the fight for independence and the green showed independence had been achieved, he said.
Christian Berghänel, 29 January 2002
By sheer coincidence, the three colours happen to be the same as in all Afghan flags between 1928 and 1978... It may be interesting to mention that the origin of these three colours (on the 1928 flag) is possibly:
Santiago Dotor, 30 January 2002
From the Islamic Resources of the Washington DC Area website: Ashhadu Alla Ilaha Illa Allah
(Wa) Ashhadu Anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah "I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is his servant and Messenger".
Juan Vaquer Jr., 24 March 1999
On the Saudi Arabian flag and all other flags that bear the Shahada it is simplified as, La allah illa Allah wa-Muhammed rasulu Allah. Literally: "No deity but God and Muhammad God's messenger".
Dov Gutterman, 28 March 1999
I would like to specify that the Shahada written on flags Taliban flag, Saudi Arabian flag etc. does not have the Arabic conjunction wa ('and') mentioned above. [It is thus simply La allah illa Allah / Muhammed rasulu Allah.]
Omar Amastan Mouffok, 26 December 2001
Shahada means 'testimony' or 'approval' in Arabic, and it is the Islamic credo. (...) The shorter form, found on flags, banners and walls of mosques reads, la ilaaha illa llaah (wa) muhammadu rasuulu llaah i.e. There is no god but Allah (and) Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.
Dror Kamir, 12 June 2002
photo by Joe McMillan
This photo was taken in early October 2005 in Kabul at a meeting with
then-Minister of Interior Ali Jalali. This flag was behind his desk. He
explained that it is the national flag used in ceremonies and offices by units
of the Afghan police and military. I believe it would equate to a national
color. It is a vertical tricolor, black-red-green, with a fringe of gold tassels
all around. The arms on the center are in gold embroidery and reduced size to
make room for the inscriptions. Jalali explained that the inscription on the
green stripe reads, in Arabic, "Victory is from God, and it is near." The
inscription on the black stripe is another Koranic quotation, but he didn't say
what it is. I believe the words above the national emblem are the invocation "Bismillah
ar-rahman ar-rahim" (In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful) and the
shahada (There is no God but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God). The
finial, not visible in the photo, is sort of a bulb that tapers to a point on
the top. I don't think there was anything below the arms in the portion hidden
by the chair.
Joe McMillan, 22 December 2006
image by Olivier Touzeau, 24 June 2020
n 2019, a white flag with logo could sometimes be seen in official
institutions in Afghanistan for the 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s
Reclamation of Independence 1919 – 2019.
See for example:
Olivier Touzeau, 24 June 2020