What is this religious symbol?
May 20, 2007 8:55 AM   Subscribe

What is this religious symbol?

In this collage called Belief and Belief systems that turns up on a lot political fringe sites there's a symbol in the very upper left corner that looks Arabic but I really don't know what it is or what it means. In Philly its common to see this symbol printed in bright colors on white, hooded zip up sweatjackets. They are favored by young, black Muslim kids. I'm trying to describe this in a piece of writing as something more specific than, "Arabic script," or something.
posted by The Straightener to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total)
It's the symbol for Om.
posted by LunaticFringe at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2007

posted by Firas at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by Abiezer at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2007

The top left? It's an om. It's buddist.
posted by zpousman at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2007

This site says it's Harmony.
posted by The Deej at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2007

Sorry, the exercise was "harmony."

Aum (also Om, ?) is the most sacred syllable in Hindusim. It is also considered holy in Buddhism - where it is incorporated in the most famous mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" - as well as by Jains and Sikhs.
posted by The Deej at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2007

It doesn't have a specific connotation. The concept is expansive by its very nature. It can be everything from an identity thing for militaristic Hinduism to a peace sign. But yes, it has religious origins.
posted by Firas at 9:09 AM on May 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cool! I saw that symbol on the back of a car yesterday, and I wondered what it was.
posted by donajo at 9:57 AM on May 20, 2007

They are favored by young, black Muslim kids

Were those kids Muslim, or Hindu?

It's good to know Muslim teenagers were wearing those shirts. The symbol is yes, Sacred to Hindus, and sometimes can lead to altercations with very devout ones when it is not treated with the respect it deserves; example--someone printing it for mass consumption and it landing up somewhere in the garbage bin or someplace. A few years ago, if I'm not mistaken, there was a brouhaha over the images of the Ganesh deity being printed on Toilet seats of all places which angered a lot of Hindus, and rightfully so, and was then taken off the market.

Anyway, I live in India, so I see the symbol a lot here. I hope you enjoy it too!
posted by hadjiboy at 7:50 PM on May 20, 2007

I have a couple of roommates who are in a Hindu-esque religion (specifically, they are Sathya Sai Baba devotees), and they draw the Om almost meditatively on their notebooks, doodle pads, bathroom mirrors, what have you. There's a wooden Om carving hanging over our front door. The explanation I get is that, among other things, it's the first syllable produced by the primordial vibrations of the universe during its forming.
posted by lostburner at 6:35 AM on May 21, 2007

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