Islamic Calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy is the handwriting and calligraphic style used in the alphabets of the people who share a common Islamic heritage, which includes  Arabic, Ottoman and Persian Calligraphy

As the Islamic societies moved away from an oral culture to a written culture. Islamic Calligraphy became a sacred art form largely defined and shaped by its strong ties to the Qui’an, which is believed to be the word of God as revealed to the prophet Muhammad,

“Thus  calligraphy became the noble of arts because it gave visible form to the revealed word of the Holy Qur’an”  Martin Lings




This is the oldest form of Arabic script and was developed near the end of the 7th century and consisted of 17 letters, with later additions of dots and accents that number increased to 28.

The only common feature of this script is the angular, linear shapes of the characters. Due to the lack of rules, the scripts from different regions, countries and calligraphers had different ways of creatively writing the script , ranging from very square and rigid to flowery and decorative.

It was the main script used in the copying of the Qui’an from the 8th – 10th centuries but was replaced by the more practical flowing Naskh script by the 12th century


This script appeared in the 10th century with it becoming the most present style used in the production of Qui’ans, decrees etc. and is now the basis of the Arabic print style used today.



This is a variation developed as a display script to decorate particular scriptural objects. the letters have long vertical lines with broad spacing. The name, meaning “third”, is in reference to the x-height, which is one third of the ‘alif



Is another handwriting style developed from the Naskh and Thuluth styles which first appeared in the 9th century. The shape has a simple form with short strokes and little flourishes


This is a majestic style of script used by accomplished calligraphers, and was considered one of the most beautiful scripts, as well as one of the most difficult to write.

The script was commonly used during the Mameluke era, but is now used for short phrases, such as the basmallah, from the 18th century onward.


Regional styles

With the spread of Islam, the Arabic script became established over a vast geographic area, with many regions developing their own unique Calligraphic writing style. From the 14th century forward, other cursive styles began to emerge in Turkey, Persia, and China.


This is a cursive style originally devised to write the Persian language for literary and non-Qur’anic works, with a variant called Shikasteh being used for more informal contexts

This script is thought to be developed from the Naskh and the earlier Iranian Ta’liq script.

Where the name Ta’liq means “hanging”, and refers to the slightly steeped lines of which the words run in, giving the script a hanging look to it.

The letters have short vertical strokes with broad sweeping horizontal strokes and the shapes are deep, hook-like, and have high contrast.


This is another cursive style of Arabic calligraphy developed in the 16th and early 17th centuriesby the early Ottoman Turks and reached its height  under Süleyman I the Magnificent (1520–1566).

Spaces between letters are often narrow with the lines rising upwards from right to left. Larger variations called djali are  decorated densely using dots and diacritical marks in the space betweento give a compact appearance.

This script is difficult to read and write due tothe stylization, which made it the perfect script for writing court documents as it preventedforgery and gave confidentiality to the document


This a style of islamic calligraphy was developed in China. with the style being greatly influenced by Chinese calligraphy, where they used a horsehair brush instead of a reed pen.


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