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Al-Qalam Qur’an Project

The Art of Arabic Calligraphy

The art of Arabic calligraphy owes its existence to the Holy Qur’an, for it was crafted with the noble intent of preserving and sharing the Divine words contained within.

Muslim artists around the world have found inspiration in this great masterpiece.

The Qur’an has become a source and a motivation for the development of Islamic Sacred Art. These verses that reflect the beliefs of Islam have profoundly influenced the initiation, maturity and growth of Islamic art making it a distinct and respected facet in the world of art.

In the Qur’an, specifically in Surah Al Qalam, verse 1, it elevates the significance of the pen with the divine words, “Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe.” This verse emphasises the sanctity of knowledge, wisdom, and the art of writing. “By the pen,” is a profound acknowledgment of the instrument used to transcribe knowledge. This concept resonates with other verses where the Qur’an encourages reading and attributes the act of teaching to the pen. In Surah Al Alaq (verses 1-5), it is declared, “Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has been taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.” Thus, the pen symbolises the gateway to knowledge, a gift from Allah enabling humanity to acquire wisdom and understanding.

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon his noble soul) received a revelation from Allah, he promptly shared it with his companions and then directed a scribe to transcribe it. Those unable to write, would commit it to memory, reciting it before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon his noble soul) and sharing it with fellow companions and others in the community. Thus, the act of acquiring and transcribing (writing) the Qur’an became an enduring tradition.

For Muslim calligraphers, there exists no higher honour than transcribing the Holy Qur’an by hand, an act steeped in devotion, demanding patience, resilience, and a lifelong dedication. Such dedication is a form of worship, seeking the pleasure of Allah as the ultimate reward.

Throughout history, highly skilled calligraphers have emerged, dedicating their lives to the Holy Qur’an. They’ve spent years meticulously copying its verses (ayāt), demonstrating unwavering devotion and craftsmanship. As a result of their noble efforts, later generations have been blessed with an abundance of beautifully handwritten manuscripts.

Arabic Calligraphy has played a significant role in the development of Islam. For many people, Muslim and Non Muslims alike, the copies of the Qur’an, God’s Revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon his noble soul) in the early 7th century epitomises Islamic calligraphy. The expansive use of writing is one of the hallmarks of Islamic Civilisation.