Why Islamic calligraphy art?

Why do Muslims like to decorate their homes with Islamic calligraphy art? Where and how did the art of writing the Quranic verses begin? Even as modern innovations such as wall decals and digital prints have added to the world of Islamic calligraphy art, today we plan to step back and talk about the origins of Islamic calligraphy.

The first reason for Islamic calligraphy to take off was the need to transcribe the Holy Quran in the form of a book so that later generations could read it.

We all know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to orally recite the verses delivered to him by Angel Gabriel. His companions would then memorise these verses, and some probably even wrote them down too. However, some time after the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s death, when some of the Haafiz-e-Quran died in battles, a need was felt to transcribe the entire Quran in an orderly format in a book. Thus began the project of transcribing the Quran.

The earliest font in which the Quran was written was Kufic. At the time, the Arabic script had fewer phonetic or vowel symbols. Kufic was a beautiful script, but as non-Arabs began entering the fold of Islam, a newer, more legible script was introduced which was called Naskh. It had more letter, and symbols to indicate phonetics and vowel sounds. Even today, the Quran is written in Nask script.

The other reason for Islamic calligraphy to develop – and this has more to do with art – is that Islam forbade human and animal imagery. Such imagery is the mainstay of fine arts and Eurpoean architecture, for instance, is replete with wall art depicting the human or animal form. Since Islam disallowed such imagery, how would one adorn the walls of monuments and homes? How would artists express themselves? Thus to fulifill this need, more artistic fonts being developed such as Thuluth which is characterised by long, elegant strokes with emphatic dots and phonetic symbols. Thuluth calligraphy was used to decorate the walls of many great monuments such as the Taj Mahal in India.

As Islam started spreading beyond the borders of Arabia, new regional styles developed such as Diwani, an elaborate, intricate font that has slanted letters, and decorative dots that fill in any empty space in the text. This font was developed in Ottomon Turkey, and was used for purposes of art as well as writing confidential court documents – since it was difficult to read.

In Iran, the simple but brilliant Nastaliq font emerged which was used mostly to write court documents in Persian.

In India, the figurative Tughra calligraphy became hugely popular and text was written in the form of different shapes and objects.

At Baradari, we offer Islamic calligraphy art in all the four unique styles. Come, view our collection, and choose from the styles you like best.