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Spiritual Pakistani Calligraphy Art

Arabic script has been an important part of Islam’s cultural heritage, whether in Saudi Arabia or in other Islamic countries, such as Pakistan. Arabic calligraphy is as popular around the globe as it is in the Kingdom. While rendering words of God in ink or colors, artists remain attached to a rich cultural heritage dating back to 5000 years. The continuity of tradition in their work is underscored in the choice of colors, patterns and designs used to beautify Islam’s spiritual and scriptural messages. A calligraphy exhibition titled Roa’t Ur Resalah (The message of beauty) in Jeddah highlighted the tradition of calligraphy, which goes back to the times of Caliph Umar Ibn Khattab and Ali Ibn Abi Talib. Indeed, reeds and brushes held by Pakistani artists imparted a new tone to Arabic calligraphy art besides enriching various popular styles today. On display were over 200 pieces of artwork by 34 Pakistani artists. Calligrapher Mussarat Arif said producing art and folk crafts are an indelible part of the human ethos. "From time immemorial — and in all human societies and cultures — human beings have strived to produce both. Pakistan being no exception, art and crafts have flourished in all parts of the country. Naturally, these have varied within the framework of both opportunities offered and constraints imposed by the country’s geographical features and the pattern of life determined by the climate and the social mores, as well as economic conditions. In addition, interaction of various cultures, races, and belief systems in areas now comprising Pakistan has inspired Pakistani artists through the centuries." She said: “In this exhibition you will find art work of different types as I am related to fine art that’s why you can see the touch of artistic work with calligraphy, as our calligraphy or classical calligraphy is different from today’s work, where artists involve colors, medium and other touch of artistic work with calligraphy.”  The development of art almost certainly predates the development of language. However, the letter quickly went forward, if not to overtake at least come abreast with art. Arabic calligraphy is popular among all the segments of Islamic societies as Islam stressed the art of lettering as much as reading and reciting the Holy Qur’an. The writing of Qur’an beautifully is related to Umar Ibn Khattab and Ali Ibn Abi Talib, who encouraged Muslims to train their children in Arabic calligraphy. Promotion of Arabic calligraphy has therefore, been a part of conscious efforts of early Muslims.  Ashraf Heera, another prominent Pakistani calligrapher and winner of the King Abdullah calligraphy contest, said the artists of Pakistan have their own style and some of them have made variations in classical calligraphy designs. Calligraphy not only linked people and artists with Islam but also the colors linked the feelings, inner emotions and saga of an entire civilization, which has seen an enviable apex, a predictable decline, then a leveling out, which can still lead into a resurgence. As an art form, calligraphy has attracted global interest and has found a place not only in Islamic societies, but in societies across the world. Its treasures are housed both in Western museums and within the Islamic world. In Pakistan, the art of calligraphy has attracted the attention of artists across the spectrum, as there was a time when the art form was being viewed as one on the decline. It is now a part of the repertoire of artists who specialize in forms other than calligraphy besides being the mode of expression of those who indulge only in its many facets. Mohammed Hassan Kashigar, ceramic pottery expert and teacher in Mahran University, told Arab News that he likes to be here in Saudi Arabia. He said a number of people, especially Saudis and Arabs, appreciated his classical and modern ceramic work. Kashigar is working on Islamic patterns, mosaic, ceramic and screen tiles as this is his family profession. He said that though he has held several exhibitions in other countries, he is extremely pleased and satisfied with the exhibition in Saudi Arabia. “A number of people, especially Saudi businessmen, expressed appreciation for my work and I got excellent responses from everyone, especially for ceramic and naqashi work,” he said. British Consul General Mohammed Shokat visited the exhibition and appreciated the unique calligraphy work by Pakistani artists. He also bought one of the artworks. “The exhibition is fantastic, every single piece is absolutely amazing calligraphy. Though at a very early age I learned to write Urdu and calligraphy, I am not good at it now. Being able to write calligraphy, the word of God that exists in Holy Qur’an, is an art form and a special ability. Calligraphy is not simply writing, but it is a sense of colors and designs as well,” he said.  Pakistani Consul General Aftab Khokher said the exhibition Roa’t Ur Resalah was part of their endeavor to promote awareness about the Islamic heritage of Pakistan. In Pakistan, this tradition has been carefully nurtured and enriched. Today, it constitutes our primary cultural identity, he said. The four-day exhibition was inaugurated by Najia Aizaz Ahmed, wife of Pakistani Foreign Affairs Secretary and Hamida and Alireza promoter of arts and craft in Saudi Arabia, in the presence of the Pakistani consul general, his wife Afshan Khokher. The Arabic calligraphy exhibition was organized by the Pakistani consulate in Jeddah, in cooperation with the World Muslim Congress, Jeddah office, under the umbrella of Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef. The twelve participating Pakistani artists included Iqbal Ibn-e-Kaleem, Irfan Ahmed Khan, Hafiz Anjum Mahmood, Malik Muhammad, Abdul Rehman, Nasir Mehmood, Muhammed Ashraf Heera, Abdul Rasheed, Abdul Razaq, Maqsood Ali Lashari, Mussarat Arif, Hassan Kashigar, Malik M. Abdul Rehman and Muhammed Asghar Ali.

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