Saturday, June 20, 2009

Obama, Hujurat and Islamic Calligraphy

President Obama, Sura Hujurat and Islamic Calligraphy;
President Obama quoted the verse 49:13 from Sura Hujurat in his speech in Cairo. “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.” (Qur’aan 49:13).

Indeed, Qur’aan is about living in peace and focussing on co-existence and Justice to life and Environment. In 2005, the World Muslim Congress chose this verse to base its Mission Statement and since then we have collected over 500 articles on Islam about co-existence.

President Obama has commissioned Mohammad Zakaria the famed Calligrapher to make a plaque to commemorate his trip to the Middle East with Sura Hujurat 49:13 inscribed on it. From Mr. Zakaria we learned that Obama knows the verse in depth and understands the full meaning of it. Mr. Zakaria was invited by the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim Center in Dallas to make a presentation on Islamic Calligraphy.

By the way the Washington monument in DC has a Marble plaque with Arabic inscription on it; I will get that picture one of these days and post it in my calligraphy collections at:

I was blessed to witness the art of calligraphy that I cherish. When I am on the phone, I usually scribble notes in Urdu, Arabic and Persian styles of writing, if you have the flat nib pen or a pencil; it is a heaven to write. Mr. Zakaria honored me with his pen and I wrote Bismillah and I was beaming like a child for that simple act of writing. My late wife Najma’s father was a master calligrapher and some of his work is still around.

The "Eid Mubarak" stamp that you see, was Mr. Zakaria's work. He was also on the documentary "Message" by Michael Wolfe.

Zakaria is a Master Calligrapher who learned under the tutelage of Hamid in Turkey and now, he is an institution himself. Thanks to the Ismaili community for inviting me to witness the art of calligraphy that I cherish.

He showed slides of various forms of Calligraphy including the Kufa style writing that the Prophet had written to the Abyssinia’s king. It was amazing to see the different styles, fonts and the structures.

It is human to express and every aspect of nature expresses itself; a mother giving birth to a baby and the plant rejoicing with its expression when the flower blooms. Among a variety of expressions that humans crave, one of them is expressions in the form of writing, sketching, sculpting and arts.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) discouraged Muslims from painting his picture or sculpting his bust for two reasons; Humility, which is one of the biggest foundation stones of Islam and the other one was his concern that generation’s later people may worship him as divine. Thank God, his message was heeded, today, no Muslim worships him and instead simply venerate him for his teachings of piety, humility and equality.

So what do Muslims do when their hands itch to paint? They found they could express it in Calligraphy. Thus Calligraphy originated and flourished in Islam. It is simply incredible and beautiful. This form of Art is predominently prevalent among Muslims, and I know of no other society that hones in on the art of Calligraphy.

Zakaria writes in his website "Read" was the first word of God's divine revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. Ever since, the written word has held a position of primacy in the Islamic religion.

“In the Islamic world, of course, calligraphy had always been as much an art as an occupation, and men of letters delighted in coining phrases to describe it. "If it was a flower," one early writer said of calligraphy, "it would be a rose; if a metal, gold." Another said, "The pen is the ambassador of intelligence, the messenger of thought, and the interpreter for the mind." But perhaps the best of these classical Arabic metaphors is this: "Calligraphy is music for the eyes." - Zakaria

“Words are the raw material of calligraphy, which is never divorced from meaning. But like music, true calligraphy also works on a wordless level, the level on which all great art functions. Together, the semantic cooperates with the aesthetic to enhance meaning; or, as another classical aphorism puts it, "Calligraphy gives to truth more clarity." - Zakaria

Different version of calligraphy for the words Allah, Muhammad, Bismillah…

You can visit to learn more about Calligraphy.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer, Moderator and a Blogger on Pluralism, Interfaith, civil societies, Terrorism, Peace, Islam, and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television networks offering a pluralistic perspective on issues of the day. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a conflict mitigator and a goodwill nurturer. The theme is consistent in his speeches, writings and workshops he conducts.


1 comment:

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.