“He who taught the use of the pen, taught man that which he knew not.”
Qur’an, Sura Al-‘Alaq (96:4-5)
Calligraphy has developed as a very important artform and devotional activity in Islam since it is regarded as one means by which the divine word of God can be recorded. It has permeated all aspects of creative expression in Muslim culture, including art and architecture, and is consequently more than merely a visual means of reminding the viewer of the Qur’an and the word of God.
“Beauty of script is incumbent upon you for it is one of the keys of mankind’s daily bread.”
Attributed to the Prophet Muhammad
In addition, the calligrapher (in Arabic al-khattat) was afforded a higher social status than for example the gilder, binder or painter. This elevated social status accorded to the calligrapher was reinforced by the fact that many rulers in Islam were keen to compete in the artform with professional calligraphers. It is not an exaggeration to say that calligraphy is considered by many to be the very heartbeat of Islam.
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