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Majlis 7 - Chapter 1

Al Dai al Ajal Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin RA recounted the restoration of Al Jame' al Anwar and mentioned the use of Kufi khat in its tazyeen.

The Islamic appreciation of calligraphy is finely expressed by the 10th century Persian philosopher, Abu Hayyān al Tawhidi who wrote that,

Handwriting is the jewellery fashioned by the hand from pure gold of the intellect

The field of Islamic calligraphy is almost inexhaustible given the various types of Arabic script and the extension of Islamic culture. It is because of this reason that a copious amount of scholarly work has been done on the types of Arabic calligraphy in the West.

Thuluth script

The name “Thuluth” means one third, which might refer to the size of the pen used to write the script. It is one of the cursive scripts that was commonly used to decorate masjids and different types of texts.

The Thuluth script has cursive letters and long lines, which makes it easy to read and suitable for both titles and long texts.

Naskh script

Known for its readable glyphs, the Naskh was traditionally used for long texts and inscriptions. Due to its modern look and cursive letters its use continues today in the design of printed Arabic books.

Ta’liq script

The word Ta’liq means “suspension” and was inspired by the shape of the script’s lines, which look hung together and connected to each other, and its letters which are rounded curved. While this makes it less legible, the script is often written with a large distance between lines to give more space for the eye to identify letters and words.

Diwani script

The name of this script derives from “Diwan,” the name of the Ottoman royal chancery.

It is defined by its beautiful curved letters, merged to form complex shapes and decorative forms.

RIQ’A SCRIPT

the name “Riq’a” derives from how the script was used: written on small pieces of paper or cloth.

The Riq’a script is known for its simple form, making it perfect for paragraphs and long texts. The way its letters are connected makes it particularly easy to convert into a digital font. However, it is not especially attractive in titles or decorations because it does not have the sophisticated letterforms of the Diwani, Thuluth and Kufic scripts.

KUFI script

The kufic Arabic script is the first one that attracted the Orientalists with its angular patterns as found on the coronation gown of the German Emperor and on early coins.

The vibrant vitality of Islam gave birth to sacred art, unrivalled for its beauty and conception in the history of mankind. Using this art, masterpieces of Man’s creative achievement were produced. The Kufic script is a product of that art movement. It is the outcome of a deliberate aspiration impelled by the consciousness of the need for a more literately form of lettering. This script symbolizes the qualities of majesty and beauty of the creator as also the analogy between creation and revelation.

The kufic script is said to be attributed to Maulana Ali SA. Kufa was one of the important centers for the art of writing.

Maulana Ali sa was the first master of calligraphy and had a prominent role in the formation of the kufic script.

Source: Calligraphy and Islamic Culture by Annemarie Schimmel

The Kufic script takes its name from the Iraqi town of Kufa, one of the earliest centers of Islamic learning. It became one of the great unifying factors of Islamic art, and it remained simple until the 3rd century Hijri, as it was not used for ornamental purposes. However, during the 4th century, artists maximized its ornamental qualities. This led to the development from plain Kufic to foliated Kufic and subsequently to floriated Kufic, which was highly decorative and very pleasing.

During the 4th Century art-movement of Islam, the Kufic script received patronage by the Fatemi Aimmat SA, witnessing a rare efflorescence and was raised to the eminence of being the most majestically beautiful scripture.

The Kufic script is characterized by straight lines, sharp angles and curves. Its floriated style is admirably suited to embellishment and adornment and so naturally became the calligraphy of Al Quran and later in the decoration of Masajid.

The styles of the Kufic script used were many; two of which became famous were known as Al Muriq, the foliated, and al Muzhir the floriated

The floriated Kufic was characterized by the decoration of the apices (the highest parts) of the letters consisting of half palmettes and two or three lobed leaves and the bifurcation of the ending of letters, which might have extended even to initial and final letters. (example below, from Juyushi)

Kufic script is considered floriated when floral motifs such as scrolls and tendrils extend from the Arabic letters, either where the letters terminate or from medial points. This result is an elegant juxtaposition of the strict, angular forms of the letters with the curvilinear, meandering floral patterns that fill the remaining space.

The other types which are also used in the fatemi art and architecture are:

Plain Kufic which is the original type of Kufic, and is generally void of elaborate decorations, braiding and villi designs. It is, however, moderately beautified, and written in an elegant way.
Plaited Kufic contains letters that appear to be woven into knots, that make out the shape of interlaced braids.Its designs are generally formed through the extension and weaving of the longer letters of the Arabic alphabet. It became especially conspicuous in the Fatemi era, in the fifth and sixth century Hijri.
Geometric Kufic is the most distinctive, as it is based solely on geometric figures and shapes, contributing to its tendencies of containing right angles, and often, straight lines

Succeeding chapter discusses use of Kufic script in al Jame' al Anwar:

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