Steps to Learn Arabic Calligraphy
Studying Arabic calligraphy is not an easy process, nor is it difficult if you follow the right path. You just need a direct teacher because this art is taught through reception due to its secrets within the letters. But this article can help those who find it difficult to find a teacher. I also remind you of the great saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” You need to start.
I advise you to focus all your attention in the beginning on studying the basics and rules. Techniques will inevitably come, and ideas will crowd your mind. So, equip yourself first with learning the fundamentals until you master the execution of ideas. Avoid rushing.
Here are some steps for the initial stage:
1. Familiarize yourself with the required tools: (various-sized pens, ink, paper).
2. Purchase a good calligraphy book. I recommend “Hashim al-Baghdadi’s books” as a good choice.
3. Choose a calligraphy style you like, for example, “Riqa’a” script, which is one of the easiest scripts. Focus on it only. You are required to study it, and here are some ways to do so:
– Join a calligraphy course if available.
– Learn from YouTube videos.
– Search for books or images that provide explanations. One of the best books for learning Riqa’a script is ” Mukhtar Alim’s books.”
4. Now that you have your tools and book, start by holding the pen. The first thing you should learn is the proper grip of the pen. Do not start learning the letters until you have mastered the pen grip. You will find an explanation of the pen grip in the Riqa’a script book.
5. First, start by learning individual letters and their rules. Begin with the letter “Alif,” which has a size of 3 Noqtas. You can draw two lines with a pencil, with a distance of 3 Noqtas between them. Write inside the lines to get used to the correct size of Alif until you can write it without the lines. Do the same for most of the letters. You can also practice tracing the letters on transparent paper or printing them with reduced opacity.
6. Second, focus on connected letters and their shapes and how they relate to the rest of the letters. The connected letters are (Ba, Jeem, Seen, Sad, Ta, Ain, Feh, Kaf, Lam, Meem, Ha). Concentrate on each letter individually.
7. You have now studied and understood the letters. You are ready to write words and sentences, but do not write whatever comes to your mind yet. You are still in the imitation stage. Imitate words and sentences from the book and pay attention to writing on the line. After that, you can write whatever you want.
These are the initial steps to learn Arabic calligraphy. Practice regularly, be patient, and enjoy the journey of mastering this beautiful art form.
General Tips and Advice:
- Do not enter the realm of calligraphy casually, as you will find the opposite of what you expect. Instead, you should exert effort and understand that Arabic calligraphy is a profound art that requires dedication and hard work. The greater your determination, the smaller the challenges will appear.
- Knowledge is acquired through learning. You cannot attain knowledge by engaging in idle talk or making superficial modifications. Learning requires a disciplined approach, focusing on the subject matter without being distracted by trivial matters. The more sincere your pursuit of knowledge, the more divine opportunities will unfold before you.
- Your hand is a messenger, not a rationalizer. If you seek practical knowledge, you must approach it with thoughtfulness and vision. The key to mastering Arabic calligraphy lies in your eyes. If you can harness them effectively and utilize them as required, you will achieve your artistic goals in the shortest time possible. However, if a calligrapher dedicates their time to practice without paying attention to perception, they will be deprived of progress.
- Do not scatter your thoughts and energy. Distributing your efforts across multiple paths can be tiresome, as your focus will be divided among various tasks. This can lead to minimal progress, lengthening the journey, and fostering discouragement, especially for those whose determination is weakened. Success lies in starting and completing one task before moving on to another, using what you have learned as a means to reach what lies ahead.
- Do not deceive yourself with the illusion of success while remaining ignorant of your own capabilities. A person cannot fool themselves into thinking they are more knowledgeable than they actually are. Instead, they should strive to overcome challenges through temporary means. For example, someone who is tired of mastering a particular letter may choose to write it in a different color to create visual appeal, or they may find it challenging to write a long text and opt for a shorter one to demonstrate their completion of the task. There are countless excuses that students try to overcome, but they must acknowledge their shortcomings honestly.
- Do not underestimate yourself. Climbing the ladder quickly and reaping the rewards before they are fully earned is one of the most important aspects in the art world. If you undervalue your own abilities, you will be spared from the bitterness that accompanies unmet expectations. When presenting yourself to others, your students, or your teachers, it is better to offer more than they already know about you, rather than presenting less. Praise is more beneficial than belittlement, which individuals may subject themselves to.
- Do not judge Arabic calligraphy based on concepts of right and wrong or permissible and forbidden. This art form revolves around the pursuit of beauty, and each calligrapher embraces different techniques for perceiving beauty. Every researcher is situated in their own realm of beauty, with varying degrees of excellence. It is not a matter of beautiful versus ugly, but rather a spectrum from beautiful to more beautiful. Do not criticize what does not appeal to you, as you have not viewed it from the artist’s perspective. If there is a need for criticism, it should be based on a study of the methods and styles employed to understand the beauty points the artist has chosen for themselves.
- Do not marginalize those around you in order to stand out. Instead, elevate them so that you find competition that sharpens your determination on the path of knowledge. We have witnessed many individuals who attempted to marginalize their peers or students to hinder their progress, either by withholding the secrets of the art or using other means. Consequently, their own skills weakened and regressed since there was no one around to challenge and inspire them. If you seek progress, take the hand of those around you, benefit from their inquiries, and draw inspiration from their creativity. A person achieves little on their own but achieves much through their companions.
These are general tips and advice to consider when embarking on the journey of Arabic calligraphy.