Muslim Tuareg Cross
Muslim Tuareg Cross
The term Muslim Cross begs qualification. It is a cross used by some Muslims but does not represent Islam nor the Crucifixion of Jesus. It is one of several different geometric cross patterns used by the Sunni Muslim. Tuareg people of Saharan Africa.
The centre of the cross represents God and since Muslims believe we are one with God, mankind shares that central spot. The four arms of the cross are to keep evil at bay and this cross is worn as a protective amulet. Muslims also believe, of course, that a few grams of shaped metal cannot protect anyone from evil (see Charms); only the love of God can do that. Nevertheless, like prayer beads used in many other religions, this cross is a symbol of one's faith.
The Tuareg are Berber nomads and most now live in Western Africa, principally Niger, Mali, Algeria, Burkino Faso and Libya. Given their nomadic traditions, the four arms can also be seen as conduits for spreading love to the four corners of the world, similar to the Christian's Mission Cross.
Generally shunning anything that could become idolatrous, Islam doesn't have many symbols (the Crescent being an obvious exception) consequently Muslims have copied artwork from Christianity giving it their own meaning, just as Christians copied Pagan artwork.
Whilst the Tuareg Cross is not supposed to represent Christianity (nor Islam) it is probably based on the Christian cross. Before the arrival of Islam, Berbers were Christian and very familiar with Christian art. As with the Coptic Cross, the circle at the top of this cross is most likely inherited from the Ankh, where it originally depicted the Sun god.
Tuareg is sometimes spelt Touareg and occasionally mis-spelt as 'Taureg' (see Tau).
Jesus is referred to as Isa in the Qur'an and hadith. Muslims believe Jesus was born of Mary, a virgin, to become one of the five Great Prophets, the others being Abraham, Moses, Noah and Muhammad. Muslims do not believe Jesus was crucified to redeem mankind of sin.
The majority of Tuareg are Sunni Muslim who follow the Maliki Madh'hab. Unlike many other Muslims, women do not customarily wear the veil, whereas men do. The man's veil is called alasho and like the Tuareg Cross, is traditionally believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits.
Muslims have not only copied artwork from Christianity, but have found they share many religious beliefs too. See Similarities between Christianity and Islam.
Touareg is also a name adopted by Volkswagen for one of their SUV cars (VW Touareg website). Built by Slovaks and Russians, the Touareg name helps to give a tough, off-road, take-me-across-the-Sahara image for American and European city-dwellers. One problem, however, is that its technically advanced ABS detects loose surfaces such as sand and briefly locks the wheels. If you really want to impress your neighbours in London, Manhattan, Tokyo or Zurich, you might be more successful going around on the back of a camel.