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 Kufi 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 hieratic form of lettering. This script
symbolises the qualities of majesty and beauty of the Creator as also
the analogy between creation and revelation. It is distinguished 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. It takes its name from
the Iraqi town of Kufa, one of the earliest centres of Islamic
learning and the sacred burial place of Maulana Ali Ibn Abi Talib(AS) whose
contribution to this script is most outstanding.
The fourth century of Islam marks the beginning of a remarkable flourishing of Islamic
art in North Africa, then ruled by the Fatimi dynasty. In particular the Egyptian
period is regarded as the age of originality and innovation in the history of Islamic
art, in which the Islamic art gained a personality of its own. Richly patronised
by the Fatimi Imams, the Kufi script witnessed a rare efflorescence and was raised
to the eminence of being the most majestically beautiful. Their style of the Kufi
script became famous as AL MURIQ-the foliated, and AL MUZHIR-the
floriated. Egypt and the other countries of North Africa abound to
this day with Fatimi masajid and monuments decorated by the use
and application of the Kufi script. Al-Jame-al-Anwar, Cairo alone
is said to have had twelve thousand feet of Kufi adornment.
In succeeding centuries the use of Kufi declined. The honour of reviving the
Kufi script, specially, the Fatimi style, and introducing it to architecture
and art in India goes to 51st Al Dai Al Fatimi, Dr. Syedna Taher Saifuddin Saheb(AQ)
of revered memory. He first used it in Al Jamea tus Saifiya, the Arabic Academy,
Surat. It came as the accompaniment of the new spurt in the study of
Fatimi literature. Dr. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb, 52nd Dai al Fatimi,
and the Spiritual leader of the Dawoodi Bohra brotherhood today continues to
employ Al Jamea to keep alive this art through application in an ever
widening field of uses. In Surat, Karachi and Bombay are to be
found several sacred institutions which reflect the glory of Al Azhar, Al Aqmar,
Al Juyushi etc. As in the past, so today thanks to the custodian of
Fatimi legacy, Kufi script enables the expression of the creative power of the artist
and his mastery over it, using such diverse materials ranging in hardness from
gypsum to wood, brick, marble and stone.
Reference: Eid Card 1405 H. By: Dr. Y. Najmuddin, Rector, Al-Jamea-tus-Saifiyah.
Naskh, which means, "copying," was developed in the 10th century,
and refined into a fine art form in Turkey in the 16th century. Since then it became
the most popular script in the Arab world generally accepted
for writing the al Quran. Naskh is legible and clear and was adapted
as the preferred style for typesetting and printing. Naskh is a small script
whose lines are thin and letter shapes are round. It is a cursive script
based on certain laws governing the proportions between the letters. Naskh was always
employed chiefly for writing on papyrus. In time, it evolved into innumerable styles
and varieties, including the ta'liq, the riqa', the diwani, and the thuluth, and
became the parent of the modern Arabic writing.
Thuluth was the medieval Islamic style of handwritten alphabet. Thuluth (Arabic:
"one-third") is written on the principle that one-third of each letter
slopes. It is a large and elegant, cursive script.
It was used to write surah headings, religious inscriptions, and
princely titles and epigraphs. It was also used
for many of the large copies of al Quran produced from the 13th century.
Ta'liq is a cursive style of lettering developed in Iran in the 10th century.
The term Ta'liq means "suspension" and aptly describes the tendency
of each word to drop down from its preceding one. The rounded forms and exaggerated
horizontal strokes that characterize the Ta'liq letters were derived primarily from
the Riqa' script. Designed specifically to meet the needs of the Persian language,
Ta'liq was used widely for royal as well as daily correspondence until the 14th
century, when it was replaced by Nasta'liq. Nasta'liq was the predominant
style of Persian calligraphy during the 15th and 16th centuries.
A cursive script, Nasta'liq was a combination of the Naskh and Ta'liq styles,
featuring elongated horizontal strokes and exaggerated rounded forms.
The diacritical marks were casually placed, and the lines were flowing rather than
The Diwani script is a cursive style of Arabic calligraphy. As
decorative as it was communicative, Diwani was distinguished by the complexity of
the line within the letter and the close juxtaposition of the letters within the
Riq'a, the simpler style of everyday writing is very economical
and easy to write. It is popular for writing both Turkish and Arabic.