The black represents the Black Standard used by the Rashidun Caliphate and the Abbasid Caliphate, while white was the dynastic color of the Umayyad Caliphate. Green is a color associated with the primary religion of Islam – and therefore also a color representative of the Rashidun Caliphate. Green is also identified as the color of the Fatimid Caliphate by some modern sources, but that is not correct: their dynastic color was white. Finally, red was the Hashemite dynastic color. The four colors also derived their potency from a verse by 14th century Arab poet Safi al-Din al-Hilli: "White are our acts, black our battles, green our fields, and red our swords."
Pan-Arab colors, used individually in the past, were first combined in 1916 in the flag of the Arab Revolt or Flag of Hejaz, designed by the British diplomat Sir Mark Sykes. Many current flags are based on Arab Revolt colors, such as the flags of Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and the United Arab Emirates.
In the 1950s, a sub-set of the Pan-Arab colors, the Arab Liberation colors, came to prominence. These consist of a tricolor of red, white and black bands, with green given less prominence or not included. The Arab Liberation tricolor was inspired by the use of the Arab Liberation Flag in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 which became the basis for the current flags of Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (and formerly in the flags of the rival states of North Yemen and South Yemen), and in the short-lived Arab unions of the United Arab Republic and the Federation of Arab Republics.
Current flags with Pan-Arab colours
UN member and observer states
Unrecognized and partially recognized states
First-level administrative divisions
Former national flags with the Pan-Arab colours
North Yemen (1962–90)
Flag of Hadhramaut (1967–69)
Mahra Sultanate (1895–1967)
Arab Islamic Republic (proposed 1974, never implemented)
Flags of Arab political and paramilitary movements using Pan-Arab colours
Flag of Ottoman era Istanbul-based autonomist "Arab Literature Club" (1909–15), a precursor Arab flag
Flag of the Ba'ath Party (1947–present), also used by the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (active 1969–71)
Flag of the National Liberation Front of Yemen (1963–78), the Dhofar Liberation Front (1965–68), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (1968–74)
Flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (1974–92)
Flag of the Arab Movement of Azawad (2012–present)
Flag of Arab Jerusalem
Flag of the Syrian Salvation Government
- Black Standard
- Islamic flags
- List of Arab flags
- Pan-African colors
- Pan-Slavic colors
- Pan-Arab Colors, crwflags.com
- Mahdi Abdul-Hadi. "The Great Arab Revolt". passia.org (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 2014-05-05.
- Abū Khaldūn Sati' al-Husri, The days of Maysalūn: A Page from the Modern History of the Arabs, Sidney Glauser Trans. (Washington D.C.: Middle East Institute, 1966), 46.
- Edmund Midura (March–April 1978). "Flags of the Arab World". Saudi Aramco World: 4–9.
- Teitelbaum, Joshua (2001). The rise and fall of the Hashimite kingdom of Arabia. New York: New York University Press. p. 205. ISBN 1-85065-460-3. OCLC 45247314.
- Marshall, Tim (2017). A flag worth dying for : the power and politics of national symbols. New York, NY: Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. pp. 110–111. ISBN 978-1-5011-6833-8. OCLC 962006347.
- Znamierowski, Alfred (2013). The World Encyclopedia of Flags: The Definitive Guide to International Flags, Banners, Standards and Ensigns, with Over 1400 Illustration. Lorenz Books. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7548-2629-3.
- Hathaway, Jane (2003). A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7914-5883-9.
The Ismaili Shi'ite counter-caliphate founded by the Fatimids took white as its dynastic color, creating a visual contrast to the Abbasid enemy.
- Blair, Sheila S.; Bloom, Jonathan M. (1999). "Art and Architecture: Themes and Variations". In Esposito, John L. (ed.). The Oxford History of Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 215–267. ISBN 0-19-510799-3.
...white was also the color associated with the Fatimid caliphs, the opponents of the Abbasids.
- Sanders, Paula A. (1994). Ritual, Politics, and the City in Fatimid Cairo. SUNY series in Medieval Middle East History. SUNY Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-7914-1781-6.
...wore white (the Fatimid color) while delivering the sermon (khuṭba) in the name of the Fatimid caliph.
- Muhsin Al-Musawi, Reading Iraq: Culture and Power in Conflict (I. B. Tauris 2006), p. 63
- I. Friedman, British Pan-Arab Policy, 1915–1922, Transaction Publ., 2011, p. 135
- William Easterly, The White Man's Burden (2006), p. 295
- Znamierowski, Alfred (2003). Illustrated Book of Flags. Southwater. p. 123. ISBN 1-84215-881-3. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
The designs of these flags were later modified, but the four pan-Arab colours were retained and were adopted by Transjordan (1921), Palestine (1922), Kuwait (1961), the United Arab Emirates (1971), Western Sahara (1976) and Somaliland (1996).
- M. Naguib, Egypt's Destiny, 1955
- Also used as the flag of Fujairah since 1975
- Kingdom of Hejaz 1915–1925, Crwflags.com
- Historical Flags Overview (Syria), Crwflags.com
- Historical Flags (Palestine) , Crwflags.com
- Historical Flags (Jordan), Crwflags.com
- Kingdom of Iraq (1924–1958), Crwflags.com
- Arab Federation of Jordan and Iraq, Crwflags.com
- Evolution of the Iraqi Flag, 1963–2008, Crwflags.com
- Mahdi Abdul-Hadi, Al-Muntadha al-Adhabi Archived 2014-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, passia.org
- Mahdi Abdul-Hadi, Jam'yiat al-'Arabiya al-Fatat Archived 2014-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, passia.org
- Al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan) Political Organizations (Iran) on crwflags.com
- S. T. Al-Seyed Naama, Brief History of Ahwaz Archived 2014-07-15 at the Wayback Machine, on al-ahwaz.com
- The contrast of white vs. black as the Fatimid/Umayyad vs. Abbasid dynastic colour over time developed in white as the colour of Shia Islam and black as the colour of Sunni Islam: "The proselytes of the ʿAbbasid revolution took full advantage of the eschatological expectations raised by black banners in their campaign to undermine the Umayyad dynasty from within. Even after the ʿAbbasids had triumphed over the Umayyads in 750, they continued to deploy black as their dynastic colour; not only the banners but the headdresses and garments of the ʿAbbasid caliphs were black [...] The ubiquitous black created a striking contrast with the banners and dynastic color of the Umayyads, which had been white [...] The Ismaili Shiʿite counter-caliphate founded by the Fatimids took white as its dynastic color, creating a visual contrast to the ʿAbbasid enemy [...] white became the Shiʿite color, in deliberate opposition to the black of the ʿAbbasid 'establishment'." Jane Hathaway, A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen, 2012, p. 97f.
- The Abbasid Revolution against the Umayyad Caliphate adopted black for its rāyaʾ for which their partisans were called the musawwids. Tabari (1995), Jane McAuliffe (ed.), Abbāsid Authority Affirmed, vol. 28, SUNY, p. 124