Arabic Calligraphy : An Integral Part Of Islamic Culture

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Arabic Calligraphy is based upon the development of the Arabic alphabet and is intimately tied to the history of Islam and the writings of the Qur’an. The word calligraphy, is defined as ‘beautiful writing” and is considered to be one of the most noble artistic expressions in the Islamic world. Arabic Calligraphy has become an integral part of Islamic culture mainly because Islam by nature is aniconic, which discourages the artistic representation of animals and human beings. As a result of this, the art of Islamic culture gravitated towards the art of calligraphy.
In the year 612 A.D. the first verse of the Qur’an fell upon the prophet Muhammad. This is known as the “Night of Destiny” and is sacred to all Muslims. The verse states: “Read, in the name of the Lord who creates, creates man from a clot! Read, for your Lord is most generous; [it is He] who teaches by the means of the pen.” (Mandel 7) It is from this passage that the origin of the reed pen, also called the “qalam’ in Arabic became the proper tool for Arabic script. The Muslims revered the use of natural writing and believed it was the beginning of all knowledge, both spiritually and scientifically. It was from this belief that transformed Arabic Calligraphy into a noble art form. From the beginning of Islam, Arabic writing was very imperfect and primitive, but over time it gradually evolved into compositions abundant in “hands”, also known as “styles” or “characters”. (Mandel 7) However, one must wonder

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