Many are familiar with what some call "the black flags of jihad" flown by Islamic extremists from Jabhat al-Nusra to Al Qaeda. The flags vary in appearance, but most share a similar theme: they typically have white writing on a black flag, and depict the shehada, or profession of faith that there is no god but god, and Muhammad is his messenger.
After such flags were seen flying in New York City during recent the Muslim Day Parade, Glenn Beck invited TheBlaze's national security advisor Buck Sexton to explain the historic and symbolic significance of the flags.
"The black banner, also known as the 'black flags of Khurasan,' this is something that stretches back into the earliest days of Islam," Sexton began. "It references a 'rising up,' if you will, of a Muslim army from a region called Khurasan, and they will have black banners."
Sexton pointed to the map below as the rough modern boundaries of Khurasan:
Sexton proceed to highlight two passages in the Hadith that are often cited as the inspiration for the flags.
The first is: "The black flags will come from the East, led by mighty men, with long hair and beards. Their surnames are taken from the names of their home towns and their first names are from a 'Kunya.'"
The second states: "Messenger of Allah said: If you see the Black Banners coming from Khurasan go to them immediately, even if you must crawl over ice, because indeed amongst them is the Caliph, Al Mahdi."
Sexton said "Al Mahdi" is a reference to Islamic "end times" theology.
But are the black flags something that have been seen throughout history, Beck asked? He noted that just because somebody has an American flag, that doesn't necessarily mean they stand for the U.S. Constitution. If a Muslim who speaks Arabic holds such a black flag, are they aware of the historical significance?
"It's popping up more now because jihadists are on the march in a number of places," Sexton responded. "When the Umayyads were fighting, they were flying black flags, and that goes back to the earliest days of Islam."
But the flags we're seeing now, he added, are "contemporary black flags." Sexton proceeded to show pictures of the flags flying in Syria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, and more.
"If that's not scary enough with the end times...this is the one that actually hits the most home for me," Sexton said, showing a picture of a man kneeling in front of a group of armed men, all in front of the black flag. "This is the beginning of a beheading video."
"That's what that flag stands for," Sexton said unequivocally. "It's not a 'resistance symbol.'"
And while no one is saying it's illegal to wave such a flag, TheBlaze's national security adviser said "we should at least be willing to call it what it is."
"If this flag is being used as the backdrop for beheading videos, it's not because the jihadists are confused," he said. "In fact, it's because we refuse to accept who the enemy is."
Sexton ended on a chilling note, saying that while you and I may not "buy in" to the verses, that doesn't mean the extremists don't.
"The people that are trying to take over countries like Egypt, and Syria, and Tunisia, and Libya, they absolutely buy into it. They know these Hadiths by heart," he said. "Some Sunni jurists will say, 'Oh no, those aren't good Hadiths.' But guess what? Bin Laden -- who signed his first declaration of war against the United States from Khurasan, Afghanistan -- he knew that Hadith, and he knew about it enough to tell all of his followers."
"They believe this," Sexton concluded. "They believe they are fulfilling prophecy."
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