A black flag (Black Standard) was used by Muhammad to represent his religion. It was used as the standard of the Abbasid Caliphate. It has also been stated that it will be the flag of the army that will fight the Dajjal.
During the German Peasants' War in the 16th century the black flag was used by the revolting farmers.
The black flag with the motto Viurem lliures o morirem (We live free or die) was flown by Catalan army and militia corps during the final stages of the War of the Spanish Succession, when the Allies had already abandoned Catalonia that fought alone against the Spanish and French armies during 1713-1714. This black flag was packaged in 2012 with the historical novel Lliures o Morts (Live Free or Die) authored by Jaume Clotet and David de Montserrat.
Flag of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, first designed in the 1930s. For Ahmadi Muslims, it symbolizes the advent of the Mahdi.
The Anarchist black flag has been an anarchist symbol since the 1880s. Anarchists use either a plain black flag or a black flag with an "A" and an "O" around it, this symbol is a reference to a Proudhon quote, meaning anarchy is the mother of order .
Upon the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II German U-boats were ordered to fly a black flag and sail to an Allied port and surrender.
The Jolly Roger, or skull and crossbones, is flown to identify a ship's crew as pirates about to attack. The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today is the skull and crossbones (although swords are also common), a flag consisting of a human skull above two long bones (probably tibias) set in an x-mark arrangement, most usually depicted crossing each other directly under the skull, on a black field. This design was used by several pirates, including Captains "Black Sam" Bellamy, Edward England, and John Taylor. Some Jolly Roger flags also include an hourglass, another common symbol representing death in 17th- and 18th-century Europe. Despite the prominence of flags with art in popular culture, plain black flags with no art were often employed by most pirates in the 17th–18th century. Historically, the flag was flown to frighten the pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement—and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated (since captured pirates were usually hanged, they did not have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated). Since the decline of piracy, various military units have used the Jolly Roger, usually in skull-and-crossbones design, as a unit identification insignia or a victory flag to ascribe to themselves the proverbial ferocity and toughness of pirates. In a non-naval context the skull and crossbones motif has additional meanings, for example, to signify a hazard such as poison
The Ahmadiyya flag, first designed in the 1930s during the second Caliphate. Just as the black colour absorbs visible light, similarly the black colour symbolizes the absorption of spiritual light.
In Ali Soufan's book The Black Banners, he explains the title by noting that quotes from various Hadiths regarding "Black Banners" of a "new army" taking over Khorasan have some kind of prophetic significance with many modern adherents of extremistjihadism. He notes that it is "not a coincidence" that Osama bin Laden made al-Qaeda's flag black. Soufan also notes that there is debate about whether the prophet Mohammed actually spoke some of the quoted Hadiths (such as one attributed to Abu Hurairah). He also notes that Sheikh Salman al-Ouda has said the Black Banner hadiths are not able to be authenticated.
In the German and Finnish militaries, black has been the traditional color of armored troops, which carries over to the flags of armored units. In Finland, also combat engineers have a black flag. The Armoured Brigade has a black flag defaced with a helmet, and engineer battalions have the black flags defaced with various symbols.
The black flag is a racing flag used to summon a driver to the pits.
In sail racing, when the black flag is displayed with the preparatory signal, a boat that is over the starting line in the minute prior to the starting signal is immediately disqualified without a hearing.
In some forms of racing, a black flag is used to disqualify competitors or indicate some other penalty (such as a forced pit stop in NASCAR).