Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The refined gems of several Urdu shayars like Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal, FiraaqGorakphuri, Josh Malihabadi and Jaun Elia, to cite a few names, have long cast a spell on audiences and readers alike. 

In the recent age, their sophisticated words have often been recited on radio shows. In the current age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, their nazmsare majorly shared among youngsters on pages/handles devoted to Urdu poetry. But the wallpapers that are used as the background of the gentle Urdu poems are mostly quite shrill and incompatible with the refined words of these shayars. 

Rather, their words need to be given a more refined visual treatment. The beautiful art of calligraphy instead more appropriate to form the background of Urdu poetry. In the world of Urdu calligraphy art, profound Urdu shayariof many famous philosophers are written in calligraphic style, often with the image of the poet as in Ghalib poetry art.

The font used for penning Urdushayariis Nast’aliq, which took off in Persia in the 15th centuryAD following the Arab conquest of the region. In Nast’aliq font, the letters slope from left to right, rendering the script a ‘hanging’ or ‘ta’liq’ appearance. It was initially used for writing the Arabic script but over time, it came into usefor writing Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Pashto. The Nastaliqfont was also applied in writing court scrolls and official decrees.

It is the standard font for writing Urdu in India and Pakistan. As Urdu is largely derived from Arabic, it can be penned in other calligraphic styles too such as Diwani, Tughra and Thuluth, which are mostly applied in Islamic calligraphy art. But Urdu looks most appealing in Nastaliq. Or perhaps we are used to see it in that font.

Nastaliqis suitable for writing Urdu nazms also because it is less decorative or elaborate thereby taking up less space. Soit can be used to write an 20 -line Urdu ghazal, for example, on a small sheet of paper that you can paste in your room.

Is it appropriate to include Urdu calligraphy art in the larger category of Islamic calligraphy art? If the theme of the Urdu text is inspired by values and principles as taught in the Quran or the Hadith, then it can be certainly included in Islamic calligraphy art. But if the text has nothing to do with religion (indeed, some Urdu shayari may even be blasphemous), then it is not suitable to be included in Islamic calligraphy art. For example, famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s poems have little or nothing to do with religion, so certainly it would be completely inappropriate to include Ghalib poetry art within the realm of Islamic calligraphy art.

 So, therefore, depending on the theme of the text, this decision has to be made. Nevertheless, most Urdu calligraphy art is generally to do with Urdu shayari, which may or may not be religious, and therefore most likely it is not included in Islamic calligraphy art.

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