I am here to share some experiences related to Arabic calligraphy
(It is Hajj season, and the pilgrims are already on their way back home. I have been asked many times if I do Hajj Mabool paintings. In general, I am not a painter although I can paint and I love it.
I do not (or should I say not yet) have a gallery where people can view my art, calligraphy or anything I have created because most of what I have done in the past are requests or commissioned work.
For the benefit of all those who cannot find something simple which says "Welcome Home" to their friends and family returning from Hajj, I have designed a simple poster in black and white which can be downloaded and printed in any required size and possibly used in any other digital artwork if need be.
I hope you like it and comment below if you have any suggestions. Shukran and Hajj Maqbool and Mabroor to all the Hujjaaj.
PS: this is what it looks like, but please only download the PDF file below it as it is print ready :)
Thursday, 25th July 2019 was the third time I have met up with Ustad Refik Carikci. On all three occasions, we met at the Noor el Hamedia Mosque in Long street, which establishment of it in 1881 was inspired by the Ottoman scholar Sh Abubaker Effendi (R.A) d.1880.
I have been raving about Ustad Refik with just about everyone who shares a passion for Arabic calligraphy. Adil Jacobs, my friend and graffiti artist (threeflare) came into contact with him via a close contact last week, and we ended off our evening having coffee together with Ustad Refik and his cousin Mehmet, a master carver. Adil was surprised that just the day before meeting Ustad Refik, we spoke at length about him and the meeting was almost as if divinely planned (and literally was).
Originally from Turkey, he grew up in Germany where he met his first calligraphy master at the age of 12. Noticing the raw talent in writing Arabic, his madrassah teacher advised him to learn the art of calligraphy (Hatt Sanati / Khatt Al Arabiy). He then studied the art for 5 years until he was sent to Istanbul to meet the great masters. Masters of the traditional scripts, Mustafa Effendi, and Prof Ali Alparsalan were his mentors eventually awarding Ustad Refik the Ijazah / diploma or license to transmit the knowledge of calligraphy. He is now skilled in at least 5 scripts, and mastered the most difficult ones i.e Thuluth and Naskh along with other scripts (Divani/Jeli Divani, Nata'leeq and Ta'leeq).
When asked about his accomplishments, he humbly says that he still has to keep his calligraphy tools with him wherever he travels so that he can maintain his practice daily. Learning calligraphy in the traditional way takes time and practice, and sometimes requires 2 years of study for proficiency in one script. Although he has been practicing this art for 40 years, he still does not consider himself a master. "Art is patience", he says as he explains how one student felt he had practiced the Alif enough. After 3 days of practicing Alif, the student said to him, "I am done with Alif, can we please move on to the next letter?". His reply was, "You are done, but I am not done".
Adil spent the entire afternoon with the two masters, taking them for lunch and a visit to the aquarium. "I see Arabic letters in everything!" Ustad replied when asked if he draws inspiration from the fish or nature. This reminds me of Sami Effendi the great Ottoman calligrapher who said,“know that if you do not practice your art, your profession, even in your dreams, you will not make progress.”
We were left with words of wisdom before ending off the evening with coffee. Ustad advised us to maintain practice, but to beware of bad practice. Practicing regularly is the key to success in this art, and practicing incorrectly is like watering a tree with acid instead of pure water. The knowledge imparted to us from a teacher is like a key to the door of success, but if you use the key incorrectly, the door will not open.
The two masters will be returning to Cape Town to complete the restoration and decoration of the Nur el Hamedia masjid inshaAllah.