Obama to Muslims: let’s chill out!

From the World Muslim Congress:

Obama, 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, co-existence with justice. 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 of 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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/show/

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, the mother giving birth to a baby, the plant producing the flower and humans expressions in the form of writing, sketching, sculpting and arts.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prohibited Muslims from painting his picture or sculpting his bust with two reasons I can think of; 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 simple venerate him for his teachings of piety, humility and equality.

So what do people 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.

Zakaria writes on 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 Allah, Muhammad, Bismillah… http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeghouse/show/

You can visit http://www.zakariya.net/ 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 www.MikeGhouse.net Mike is a conflict mitigator and a goodwill nurturer. The theme is consistent in his speeches, writings and workshops he conducts.

See our last posts on Barack Obama, the Cairo speech and the struggle within Islam.

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