​      Today, across the broad geographical tapestry of Muslim peoples and Islamic cultures, like flowering branches on an ancient tree, architects, artists, writers, and thinkers are increasingly involved in the rebirth of their great historical heritage.  In their work, as in the intermingling of spirits in Al-Hallaj's mystical poems, or in the swirling together of colors in the ancient art of Ebru, two essential attributes of art, tradition and innovation, are being integrated anew in fresh expressions of beauty and meaning.....

Great calligraphy, like great music, is the product of intense  learning and arduous discipline, coupled with the continuous practice necessary for absolute physical mastery over the "qalam", the reed pen that the scholar Qadi Ahmad saw as a symbol of the means by which knowledge of The Divine reached mankind.

Walter Denny, Ebru Art (2001) 

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      Once the Arabs recognized the necessity to commit their language to writing, they surpassed the world in the art of beautifying their script. They produced in a relatively short time an astonishing calligraphic development, transferring the Arabic script into an artistic medium that best reflected their genius and attracted their best artistic talents

Y.H. Safadi, Islamic Calligraphy (1992)



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      Arabic Script is the central form of Islam's arts, and was the first and is the foremost of its characteristic modes of visual expression. It is basic to Islamic culture, and the shapes and characters of its alphabet have permeated every level of society... The reasons for the chronological, social, and geographic pervasiveness of the calligraphic arts lie in the central fact of Islamic culture- the Qura'n


Anthony Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World (1979)



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      It has been well said that what will remain of the Arabs in the end is to be found, firstly, in the Qura'n,  secondly in pre-Islamic poetry, and finally in calligraphy and architecture ... The Arab calligraphers considered that their art was the geometry of the soul expressed through the body, a metaphor that can be taken literally and concretely with the literal design of its inspiring spirit. This metaphor refers back to an established language of love.

Abdelkebir Khatibi, The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy (2001)





      It can be said without fear of exaggeration that nothing has typified the aesthetic sense of the Muslim peoples as much as the Arabic script. One needs to be familiar with its forms and styles in order to follow the full sweep of the art, particularly in architectural ornamentation which is frequently dominated by epigraphy.

T. Burckhardt, Arts of Islam (1976)

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      Islamic art is a world of irresistible fascination in which we strive for a better understanding of the objects and of the people who made them.
Barbara Brend, Islamic Art (1992)



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      In many ways, the impact of Arabic-Islamic culture on other artistic traditions, especially in the west, reflected its own internal character.... This was particularly so in the Middle Ages and in pre-modern times, when the Christian world was fascinated by the exotic quality of Islamic art.  The fascination naturally expressed itself in imitation and in serious and prolonged efforts to duplicate techniques.  It took the West centuries to discover ceramic techniques that could match Iraqi or Egyptian creations, and until very recent times, Near Eastern textiles were imported or imitated in the West.  Venician inlaid metalwork and the ceremonial ivory horns known as "oliphants" from southern Italy owe many of their characteristics to Islamic models.

Oleg Graber, Architecture and Art, In J.R. Hayes, The Genius of Arab Civilization (1975).

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      Unlike the term "Christian Art", the term "Islamic Art" is not restricted to works made only for religeous situations and functions, and many of the most cherished examples of Islamic art have little, if anything, to do with the religion of Islam.
Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, Art and Architecture. In John Esposito, The Oxford History of Islam (1999)



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Quotes on Arabic Calligraphy

© 2012 by SAMANTA JONES