From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Alam can be an Arabic surname or it can also mean flag, sign, or world.

'Alam as flag or sign[edit]

Shia Muslims take out an Alam procession on day of Ashura in Barabanki, India, Jan, 2009.

Alam means "flag" or "sign" in Arabic. In Egypt, it may refer to a stone heap set up to mark a path in the desert.

'Alam is also of spiritual significance for the Twelver Shia Muslims. Though all Shias including those of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Syria carry 'Alams in their processions in Ashura, the ones in India and Pakistan are specifically of a different kind and have more of a spiritual significance. An Alam with a "Panja" on top of it is considered to be a religious flag of Islam, and it is said to be carried by Muhammad, Ali and Abbas ibn Ali during battles or expeditions. The battle of Karbala further glorifies its importance. An Alam is usually seen during Muharram processions and at designated sites in Shia Mosques.

Historically, Muhammad's family had a unique flag that represented the Bani Hashim clan in specific. One honorable member of the family would be chosen to carry this as a representation to others. Earlier it was green in color and was given to first Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib by Muhammad himself, then Ali ibn Abi Talib gave this Alam to his son Al Abbas ibn Ali who held this Alam till his last breath in the Battle of Karbala. After the event of Karbala, Alams during azadari procession are colored black or red.

It is thought to have been a black drape on a wooden pole with an emblem on the top. The Alams of India and Pakistan usually have one that is a long wooden pole mounted with a silver or metal "Panja" (meaning a claw or palm of your hand). An 'Alam is usually seen during Muharram Processions and at designated sites in Shia Mosques today. Though there are Sufi shrines or mausoleums of Pirs that still have decorated 'Alams in Muharram in such cities as Karachi and Mumbai, this practice being performed by people other than Shia Muslims has subsided over the last two decades out of fears of attacks by Wahhabis. An example of people who still practice "Hosay" or a multicultural event on the tenth of Muharram and carry 'Alams can be found in Trinidad and Tobago. These Indians left India at a time when the Pir system was still in effect and this cross cultural event was still practiced without persecution.

The practice of taking out Alam procession during the holy month of Moharram or any festival season is prevalent in India and Pakistan when hundreds of thousands of people come out on the streets holding the Alam in their hands. Alams taken out during celebration are usually green in color and the ones taken out during mourning procession are mostly either black or red in color, black signifies grief while red reminds of revenge for martyrs of Karbala still remaining. Alams in India and Pakistan are sometimes more than 20 feet in length.

People who hold these Alams are referred as Alamdars (the Flag Bearers).

Alam flag of the Mughal Empire.

Ālam as surname[edit]

Ālam is commonly an Arabic surname, it refers to various families living in Bangladesh, Lebanon, Jordan (inhabiting Al-Salt and Madaba areas), Syria and Palestine.

from a personal name based on Arabic Alam ‘emblem’, ‘banner’, hence an epithet for a distinguished man. Alam-al-Huda (‘banner of guidance’) is an honorific title of Muhammad. Alam is generally found in names in combination with other words. from a personal name based on Arabic alam, literally ‘world’. Alamgir (in combination with the Persian word gir ‘conqueror’) was a title of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (1618–1707), who ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1658 to 1707. This name is found in a variety of compounds, which are popular in the subcontinent, for example Badrul-Alam ‘full moon of the world’.

Ālam as a family name in Laqab (لقب) names[edit]

As a Muslim laqab (لقب) name, Ālam often occurs as a joined names such as Ālameddin, Alameddine, Alamuddin, Alamettin, Alam Ed Din, Alam Ud Deen, Alam Ad Din, Alam Ud Din, ....etc. Din (Arabic:دين) or Deen refers to "way of life" or "code of life" and religion (in Islam). The difference in Latin spelling originates from westernization of the Arabic name into various European languages. The original spelling (علم الدين) remains the same when the Arabic script is being used.


Several notable people share the surname "Alam":


  • Alam Channa (1953–1998), son of Nasir Channa of Dhoke Kashmirian was the world's tallest living man at 232.4 cm (7 ft 7 inch) high. During his life he had been billed at various heights of up to 7 ft 6 while working at a circus
  • Alam Khattak, HI(M), TBt, is a Pakistan Army general who is the present Commander of Southern Command based at Quetta. He took over the command in October 2011 after staying as Chief of Logistics Staff (CLS) at the Army GHQ for two years
  • Alam Gull Kuchi, Afghan politician, the parliamentary representative of the Kuchi nomads in the Wolesi Jirga
  • Alam Lohar (1928–1979), prominent Punjabi folk music from the Punjab region of Pakistan, formerly British India. He is credited with popularising the musical term Jugni
  • Alam Muzaffarnagari (1901–1969), real name Muhammad Ishaaq, was born in Muzaffarnagar, a city in Uttar Pradesh



  • Alam Al Yawm, an Arabic 18-page newspaper published in Kuwait. The paper has an independent and moderate stance
  • Alam El Phan, an Egyptian media group based in Cairo that supervises, manages, and produces Arabic music records and motion pictures. The company also runs the record label and TV station Mazzika, and the TV station Zoom. It is distributed by EMI Arabia
  • Alam Ara, a 1931 film directed by Ardeshir Irani. It was the first Indian sound film
  • Alam Kala
  • Alam-Kuh, - Mount Alam - is a mountain in the Alborz mountain range in the north of Iran, Mazandaran Province, forming a peak of the Takht-e Suleyman Massif
  • Alam Melayu
  • Alam Saray
  • Alam Simsim, an Arabic language Egyptian-made adaptation of the format used in the children's television series Sesame Street. Alam Simsim is Arabic for "Sesame World"
  • Alam el Halfa
  • Alam ol Hoda

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alamut : Bastion of Peace and Information". Retrieved 2017-04-09.