A History & Practice of Arabic Calligraphy, Rutgers University 2015

Course Title: An Introduction to the History and Practice of Arabic Calligraphy

icna 2013-2Course Description: The course will introduce students to the history and practice of Arabic calligraphy and calligraphic art. This course will take students on a historical journey through different time periods and lands where written Arabic flourished. Students will be exposed to different forms of Arabic lettering to examine a majestic art form that flourished not only to beautify the Quran but elementary in architecture and home décor. In addition, the class will expose students to contemporary direction for Arabic Calligraphy as an expressive art in the West and a case for the American script. The ability to read and write Arabic is not a prerequisite to take this course. Students will learn the use of traditional and modern tools for Arabic script.

  • 3 credits
    Instructor: Faraz Khan
    Day/Time: MWF, 6:00pm-9:55pm
    College Avenue
    (Room and building TBD)

    Enrollment Cap: 15

  • This course will run from May 26, 2015 – June 19, 2015. 

Course Objectives:

  • Understand the diversity and development of a writing style across time and place.
  • Identify and decipher different scripts by utilizing different script theories, methodologies, and cultures.
  • Synthesize and be able to artistically express the development of the scripts.
  • Create specific form and flow of letters and words using traditional and modern tools of writing.
  • Explore new themes and design elements to discover a well-balanced art form.

Course: Arabic Calligraphy

  • Course # 01:685:395 Section A6
    Special Topics in Middle Eastern Stdys – Intro to the History and Practice of Arabic Calligraphy
  • Cross-listed with – course number 01:013:301:A6
  • Please note AMESALL has agreed to cross-list this course (which should help enrollment).


The Making of American Islamic Art and Culture


Faraz Khan with Sofia and her dad, 2013 Communiversity, Princeton, NJ

Many communities have preserved their identity and a narrative through art. Indeed many would agree that promoting Islamic Art portrays a positive image of the American Muslim community. Art facilitates conversation and breaks down barriers. In the past, American Muslims have been building mosques, Islamic schools, expanding their parking lots, installing taller minarets, building social welfare programs, interfaith seminars and slowly integrating into the political arena. Many would voice their opinions about how we could address the dominant negative discourse in the media about American Muslims. It is remarkable how contrary to the media reports, American Muslims have been on the receiving end of a phantom jihad.  Whether it was an interfaith seminar or planning board meetings, American Muslims narrative would start from a denial, “We are Not …” fill in the blank, rather than an affirmation of a positive identity.

Changing the Narrative: Islamic Art

Some American Muslims might be skeptical about advancing the Islamic art cause. What is the benefit of advancing “Islamic art” as opposed to all forms of art? I summarize my argument with the following:

Identity – Islamic art gives a strong presence of majestic and beautiful work. Historically, no other art form could serve as more precious and authentic representation of the American Muslim community, period.

Diversity – Islamic art is not a monolithic ideal. It is an appreciation of diversity of land, people, ethnicity, religion, languages. The Sini Arabic calligraphy in China and the Andalusi Arabic calligraphy from Spain are authentic expressions of unity and pluralistic value under Islamic art.

Position – Islamic art prioritize aesthetics. It grounds us to not appreciate beauty but gives us a paradigm to beautify the world. It grounds us in understanding reality and avoiding absurdity.

Connection – Islamic art connects the East to the West. It connects us with a history, a memory of the past and true ideals for the future. It is not a postmodern art movement of a particular region or a period but a connected universal reality that is beyond geo-political boundaries.

Contribution & Legacy – Art and architecture is what individuals and communities leave behind to remind us of their priorities. What showcased the priority of Abraham to his progeny? Prayers, sacrifice, fasting all have a spiritual form but that which reminds us of Gods plan is the House of God in Mecca. Monuments and artwork educate people about the priority of their predecessors. Contrary to many puritanical views, Taj Mahal was not a waste of gold and white marble on a dead woman. It was an iconic display of love and affection that transcended time. Similarly, American Muslim contributions and legacy awaits these monumental works.



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I express my intellectual longing for creative ideas through Islamic art by fusing colors, lines, dots, and words together to inspire a meaning worth imagining. My work explores universal values of love, life, faith, prayer, beauty, and divine that synthesizes feelings and pictograms through lettering.
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© 2018 Faraz Khan Art Studio.