Chand Raat of Ramadan Kareem 1444 Hijri – 22nd March 2023: Experiencing The Quran / Qur’anic Calligraphy

By: Sadruddin Noorani, Chicago, USA

In a formal sense, each one of us Muslims recites several verses of the Qur’an in our daily prayers. This brings the Qur’an close to our hearts, minds, and souls. These prayers provide us with daily inspiration and guide us in the practice of our faith – all under the guidance of our Imam of-the-Time.

Mawlana Hazar Imam (Aga Khan), in his speech made to the Tutzing Evangelical Academy in Germany on 20 May 2006 said:

“One of the central elements of the Islamic faith is the inseparable nature of faith and world. The two are so deeply intertwined that one cannot imagine their separation. They constitute a ‘Way of Life’.”

The Qur’an encourages us to be guided by the ethics of our faith in whatever we do. There are various forms in which we can live and practice Islam as a way of life. This does not mean publicizing our beliefs at every opportunity, but rather to allow our faith to guide us in every action and decision taken by us throughout our lives.

Calligraphy by Ismaili artist Madhu Raj

The importance of constant remembrance and Zikr, as emphasized in the Qur’an and guided by our Imam, has been shared with the community so that we can remain God conscious in our lives. Another form of experiencing the Qur’an in our lives is through calligraphy. Muslim calligraphers of the past and present, using their artistic ability of handwriting and carving, in the languages which use Arabic alphabet or the alphabets derived from it, illustrate verses and phrases of the Qur’an, reflecting the beauty of their work as well as their piety. These inscriptions remind us of the word of God as manifested in the Qur’an. Along with the artistic quality of each inscription, the presence of a Qur’anic word, phrase or verse transforms our surroundings into places/spaces of contemplation. They also serve to communicate the beauty of the Islamic faith to other Muslim and non-Muslim viewers. However, Islamic calligraphy is not limited to strictly religious subjects, Qur’anic verses, Hadith, or objects. Like any Islamic art, it encompasses a diverse array of works created in a wide variety of contexts in ornamental forms.

Calligraphy by Ismaili artist Ismail Gulgee. Picture source: Artsy

Islamic calligraphy (decorative handwriting) developed from a number of styles: Kufic, Muhaqqaq, Naskh, Rayhani and Riqa, with each script having its own distinct function and history. NOTE: In interviewing an accomplished calligrapher it was established that individual artists often develop their own unique writing patterns by combining features from established styles. This is known in Arabic as khat Arabi, which translates into: line, design, or construction, in that it has been used in astonishingly varied and imaginative ways, often giving rise to works of great beauty. Qur’anic inscriptions are often carved for homes, places of worship, offices, and contain invocations to God Almighty for protection, mercy, blessings, remembrance, sustenance or livelihood. Following are some examples of these Qur’anic inscriptions:

* Enter it in peace and security [15: 46]

* Our Lord! Bestow upon us mercy from Yourself, and irrespective of our outward condition, give us the consciousness of what is right [18: 10]

* Truly with every hardship there is ease; Truly with ‘that’ hardship comes ‘more’ ease [94: 5-6]

Calligraphy by Ismaili artist Nizar MacNojia. Picture source:

The art of handwritten or carved calligraphy of Qur’anic verses and phrases is a unique form which serves as a reminder of our faith. We can live and experience our faith by being constantly vigilant of our words, actions and behavior towards ourselves, our families, our communities, and humanity at large; including our choices in earning our livelihood, our expenditures, and our approach to excelling in our daily lives.

Previous post on Ramadan: 

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

One thought

  1. I practice Zoroastrianism faith. I am an artist, I paint pictures on canvas and I came across this article on “Experiencing The Quran / Qur’anic Calligraphy”.
    Your article has open the door for me for the first time!
    I was fishing under a deep sea and found a jewel box in a form of link provided “Navruz: A Time of Reflection on Symbols of Divine Presence” dated 21st March 2021.
    I shared that with my father, who is a
    Mobed (priest) at our Agiyari (Fire Temple), he had always wanted to read about Navruz festival of other traditions. I forwarded this article to him in hopes of furthering his understanding of your faith and traditions.


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