top of page

Tulip Symbolism in Calvinism and Islam

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

Tulips are an integral part of both Calvinism and Islam.

In Calvinism, its five most important doctrines, called "the five points of Calvinism" or "the doctrines of grace," make an acronym that spells out the world "TULIP." Some Calvinist/Reformed theologians use tulips as a decoration in their offices and homes, but they are not the sheer focus of the entire religion. It is the statement piece to remind both themselves and unbelievers of what their religion teaches.

While the use of tulips to symbolize Calvinism originated at the Synod of Dort in the Dutch Reformed Church, it has become included in the beliefs and practices of the Presbyterians, Reformed Baptists, Southern Baptists, and some Independent Fundamental Baptist congregations.

A similar use is found in Islam. The only thing one has to do is get on Google and search "Tulips in Islam" or "Tulip Symbolism Islam" and thousands of images of Islamic art, prayer rugs, home decor, fields of tulips themselves, and even Iran's national flag. From talking with Muslims in my own community, I have never heard anything from them about tulips, but only their beliefs. This shows me that Muslims do not want to boil down their entire religion into the tulip, but primarily use it as a symbol for Allah.

This viewpoint of mine is not unique. In Alizeh Ahmad's Lale to Me: Tulip to You, she explains the Turkish and Persian origins of the tulip, properly called "lale," being the "dominant and recurring image on prayer rugs, tiles, and fabrics crafted in these regions since the beginning years of Islam." She further explains how the tulip became wrapped up in the Dutch identity, being a status symbol for the elite. This is confirmed by the tulip becoming almost inseparable from the popular religious beliefs among the Dutch at that time. What is most ironic is that the Dutch Reformed and all other Calvinist denominations had the same beliefs and the same doctrines that are found in Islam from the beginning.

This post is part of the series The Hard Truth About Calvinism and Islam under Symbolism in Calvinism and Islam

185 views0 comments


bottom of page