The first Quran to be completely handwritten by a non-Muslim American Calligrapher

Everitte Barbee is a U.S. citizen who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s also a calligraphy artist. About a year and a half ago, the 24-year-old commenced work on a unique project: The Quran for Solidarity is, as far as Barbee is aware, the first Quran to be completely handwritten by a non-Muslim. He also believes it may be the first edition of the book entirely written in figurative calligraphy.

“I don’t know of any other non-Muslims to write the entire Quran by hand,” Barbee, who currently lives in Beirut, told The Daily Star. “I [also] don’t know of another Quran written completely in pictures, in actual figurative designs ... Normally it’s just linear text.”



Arabic Islamic Calligraphy in the Chinese Tradition

Master of calligraphy Haji Noor Deen wowed Harvard in April during a demonstration of his singular Arabic Islamic calligraphy in the Chinese style. Now his work is on display in the CGIS South building in an  exhibit titled “Arabic Islamic Calligraphy in the Chinese Tradition: Works by Master Haji Noor Deen.” The exhibit is sponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University.

Knowledge of Arabic and Chinese may help the viewer access added joys — tilt your head to the left and a Chinese character for “peace” gives way to a cursive Arabic salaam — but even those who do not read either language can appreciate the beauty of Noor Deen’s work.



Royal Ontario Museum Canada displays Shahnameh-inspired illustrations

Until September 3, 2012
Wirth Gallery of the Middle East, Level 3
Completed about 1010 in Northeastern Iran, this great epic poem tells the story of Iran's kings and their faithful paladins from the beginning of times up to the Arab conquest in 644. As a poetic reflection on the nature of kingship, the "Book of Kings" celebrated legitimate rule, justice and good governance while deploring the cruelty of fate and pointing to the transient nature of power and glory. This exhibition brings together specimens of Shahnamaillustration preserved at McGill University, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the ROM.


New Film Reveals Masterpieces of Islamic Art Documentary to Air on PBS July 6th

SILVER SPRING, MD – June 11, 2012 – Perceptions and ideas around Muslim identity and culture vary widely and too few are aware of the significant works of art and architecture that make up a large part of Islamic civilization’s legacy. Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, is a new documentary from award-winning Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) that brings to life this legacy and will be broadcast nationally on PBS July 6th at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Narrated by actor, Susan Sarandon, this 90-minute film takes audiences on a global journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years ofhistory to present the stories behind the masterworks of Islamic art and architecture.

Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is the ninth film by Executive Producers Michael Wolfe and Alex Kronemer and UPF (Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain, Prince Among Slaves). The film was produced to nurture a greater appreciation for the exquisite works of art that Islamic culture has contributed to humanity. “I believe all viewers, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, will bepleasantly surprised with what our film uncovers,” states Alex Kronemer. “As a window into an often misunderstood culture, this film has the ability to be a real catalyst for understanding and perhaps offer a new perspective on Islam’s values, culture and lasting legacy,” continues Kronemer.

The film will air on PBS as part of the new PBS Arts Summer Festival, a multi-part weekly series that will take viewers across the country and around the world.

Viewers of Islamic Art are presented with a kaleidoscope of exquisite works of art – from the opulent Taj Mahal of Agra, India, to the written word in the form of Arabic calligraphy with master calligraphers such as MohamedZakariya. A common theme linking each of the showcased works is the way each piece of art is so different from the next – exemplifying not only the beauty, but the diversity within Islamic cultures. Each masterpiece is a contribution to the larger narrative of just how much Muslims have contributed and still contribute to society.

Michael Wolfe says, “Never before have viewers had the opportunity to explore such richness of Islamic art and history with commentary from some of the world’s most renowned experts who have the ability to explain just why these works are so important.”  “We hope watching the film will result in Muslims feeling a source of pride, aswell as celebration in their heritage,” continues Kronemer.

After its national television debut July 6thIslamic Art will be available on DVD for $19.95 through www.upf.tv.

Islamic Art has already caught the attention of thought leaders who are calling the film an important contribution to documentary filmmaking about Islamic cultures.

"UPF's Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World is a stunning achievement in documentary filmmaking. Itopens a window onto a sight of Islam so often neglected in the west. The aesthetic, beauty, and culture offer an opening for us all to start a dialogue on the values that we share and hold in common." - Karen Armstrong, Award-Winning author of religion

"This film will open the eyes and the imagination of American Muslims, reminding us all of our rich artistic heritage. I highly recommend that all American Muslims watch this documentary and share it with their neighbors!" - Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America  

Join us on Twitter at @islamicartfilm the evening of the premiere, July 6th, for a tweet chat using the hashtag #IslamicArt.

TRAILER Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World



Priceless Islamic artifacts from Aga Khan collection

Islam, Trade and Politics across the Indian Ocean

Islam, Trade and Politics Across the Indian Ocean is a research project funded by the British Academy over the period 2009–2012 and administered by the Association of South-East Asian Studies in the United Kingdom (ASEASUK) and the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA). The project is directed by Dr Andrew Peacock (BIAA and St. Andrews University) and Dr Annabel Gallop (ASEASUK and British Library).
The aim of the project is to investigate links between the lands of the Ottoman Empire and early Republican Turkey on the one hand and the Muslim peoples of South East Asia on the other over the sixteenth to twentieth centuries...


Muslim contribution towards the invention of Printing Press technology

The 15th-century German craftsman Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz is often credited with inventing the art and craft of printing. There is no doubt that this brought about a tremendous revolution in human communication and accumulation of knowledge, but was it really "invented" in 15th-century Europe?

Gutenberg does seem to have been the first to devise a printing press, but printing itself, that is, making multiple copies of a text by transferring it from one raised surface to other portable surfaces (especially paper) is much older. The Chinese were doing it as early as the 4th century, and the oldest dated printed text known to us is from 868: the Diamond Sutra, a Chinese translation of a Buddhist text now preserved in the British Library.

What is much less well known is that, little more than 100 years later, Arab Muslims were also printing texts, including passages from the Qur'an. They had already embraced the Chinese craft of paper making, developed it and adopted it widely in the Muslim lands [2]. This led to a major growth in the production of manuscript texts. But there was one kind of text which lent itself particularly to mass distribution: this was the private devotional collection of prayers, incantations, Qur'anic extracts and the "beautiful names" of God, for which there was a huge demand among Muslims, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. They were used especially as amulets, to be worn on the person, often rolled up and enclosed in a locket.

So in Fatimid Egypt, the technique was adopted of printing these texts on paper strips, and supplying them in multiple copies to meet the mass demand. Several have been found by archaeologists in the course of excavations at Fustat (old Cairo), and the archaeological context has made it possible to date them to the 10th century.

So Muslim printing continued for about 500 years. We do not know whether it may have influenced the eventual adoption of printing in Europe: there is no evidence, but the possibility cannot be ruled out, especially as the earliest European examples were block-prints.

What is not in doubt is that Muslims were practising the craft of printing for some five centuries before Gutenberg.

Muslim Printing Before Gutenberg, By Geoffrey Roper



The British Museum's Pilgrimage to Hajj: Explores the Heart of Islam

A clearer understanding of Islam has become an urgent priority for the West. And this may very well be the closest guide to experiencing one of its central rituals—and, as the exhibition demonstrates, ideas of community, trade and shared knowledge—that any non-Muslim will be able to obtain, since the Hajj itself is reserved for the faithful.

Mr. MacGregor feels that this exhibition, curated by Venetia Porter, exemplifies what a museum such as his can do in increasing the understanding between cultures for all its visitors. It upholds, too, the British Museum's reputation for staging unapologetically didactic shows that combine remarkably beautiful objects and rigorous scholarship.


Noha Balaa Sinno: Reinventing letters and calligraphy

BEIRUT: Forced to flee Lebanon at the height of the Civil War, Lebanese artist Noha Balaa Sinno now sees Arabic calligraphy as a link to her cultural heritage and her past, and uses it as a way of maintaining ties with the life she left behind more than 25 years ago.

“You only need art to bring people together and make them understand each other,” she says. Now living in Los Angeles, Sinno says. “I missed all the visual things I used to see in my country: shapes, colors, old buildings. So I tried to reinvent them in my world.”

Her first solo show in Beirut, “Reshaping Letters,” which opened at Art Circle Thursday, is her 31-painting attempt to convey her emotions using only Arabic letters and geometric designs. She sees Arabic calligraphy as a way of overcoming cultural barriers, whether or not the audience speaks or reads Arabic.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Culture/Art/2012/Jan-28/161323-reinventing-letters-and-calligraphy.ashx#ixzz1khxtktBW



Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum at State Hermitage Museum

Candlestick with Repousee' Designs, Late 12th or 13th century - Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia

Emperor Jahangir at the Jharoka Window of the Red Fort in Agra C. 1620
Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia

Haftvad’s Daughter and the Worm C. 1540
Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia

Kilga (Jar Stand) Possibly 12th century
Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia

Detail from Moses regrets his Generosity Towards the Intemperate Man C. 1604
Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia

Muqarnas element Late 15th or 16th century
Architecture in Islamic Arts. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum in State Hermitage Museum Russia


How to Read the Qur'an A New Guide, with Select Translations By Carl W. Ernst

How to Read the Qur'an offers a compact introduction and reader's guide for anyone, non-Muslim or Muslim, who wants to know how to approach, read, and understand the text of the Qur'an. Using a chronological reading of the text according to the conclusions of modern scholarship, Carl Ernst offers a nontheological approach that treats the Qur'an as a historical text that unfolded over time, in dialogue with its audience, during the career of the Prophet Muhammad.

Following Muhammad Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World By Carl W. Ernst

Unlike many "Islam 101" books published since September 11, 2001, Following Muhammad avoids the traps of sensational political exposé and specialized scholarly Orientalism. Carl Ernst introduces readers to the profound spiritual resources of Islam while clarifying diversity and debate within the tradition. One out of five people in the world is Muslim; only 18 percent of those, however, are Arab. Ernst moves away from a Middle Eastern bias, addressing the pluralistic nature of Muslim societies and thought. Framing his argument in terms of religious studies, Ernst describes how Protestant definitions of religion and anti-Muslim prejudice have affected views of Islam in Europe and America. Ernst also covers the contemporary importance of Islam in both its traditional settings and its new locations and provides a context for understanding extremist movements like fundamentalism.


Islamic Manuscripts at Cambridge Digital Library

Cambridge University Library's collection of Islamic manuscripts dates from the origins of Arabic scholarship in Cambridge in the 1630s when the University founded a Professorship in Arabic and William Bedwell donated a Qur'an to the Library.

Since that time the collection has grown in size and diversity to over 5,000 works, including the collections of Thomas Erpenius, J.L.Burckhardt, E.H.Palmer and E.G. Browne. These manuscripts shed light on many aspects of the Islamic world, its beliefs and learning.


Afghan Calligrapher Creates World's Biggest Koran

An Afghan calligrapher has created what is being billed as the world’s largest Koran. 

The ambitious project has been heralded in Afghanistan as a historic achievement, and potentially eclipses another massive Koran unveiled just two months ago.

Mohammad Sabir Khedri, the master calligrapher behind the Afghan project, spent five years working with nine of his students to complete the Koran, which measures 2.28 meters by 1.55 meters.

Khedri, speaking described the venture to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan as the most difficult, but rewarding, in his life.

"This idea was a spiritual move to be closer to the path of God," Khedri said. "I have tried with all my heart and soul to reach this goal. Doing the calligraphy for the holy book has been the biggest challenge in my life."



Rare copy of Qur’an on display

Jan 14, 2012 00:12
LONDON: The British Museum here witnessed on Thursday the installation of one of the oldest known copies of the Holy Qur’an from the 8th century as an exhibit for a major Islamic exhibition.

The British Library has lent the copy of the Holy Qur’an to the British Museum for the exhibition: Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, which is set to open to the public on Jan. 26.

The Ma’il Qur’an is the oldest object to go on public display as part of the British Museum’s major exhibition dedicated to the Haj, the pilgrimage to Makkah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This manuscript is from Arabia, probably copied in Makkah or Madinah and dates from the 8th century, one of the earliest in existence. The script is known as Ma’il, meaning sloping, on account of the pronounced slant to the right, and it is one of a number of scripts developed in the early Islamic period of the copying of the Qur’an.

In this copy of the Qur'an, as in other ancient fragments, there are no vowel signs or other aids to pronunciation, and the end of each verse is indicated by six small dashes in two stacks of three.