Mir Ali of Tabriz

February 24, 2008

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He was born in Herat, in the year 881 Hijri or 1476 AD. He is nicknamed the Qibla of the calligraphers. He was an Imam in a class of calligraphers, a skilled, highly important artist, he defined the rules of Taaliq (Farisi). Sultan Ali al Katib al-Mashady said in his poem in Farsi:

نسخ تعليق اكر خفي وجليست واضع الأصل خواجه مير عليست

Taaliq is also called “Nastaaliq” which means that at Mir Ali’s time, they were using Taaliq to copy most writings and letters, so it became known as Naskh Taaliq, and then many started calling it Nastaaliq, lightening it by omitting the foreign letter khaa.

It is said that the reason behind his invention of the new script was that he asked the Most High one day to favor him with the gift to create a new script. That night Ali bin Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) visited him in his sleep, and told him to look carefully at a flock of a particular type of fowl, a duck in fact. And he took from their forms the rules of the new script he is known for.

Mir Ali derived Taaliq script from all the parts of the duck, making each letter a suitable shape: turning, hollowing out, curving, and extending the length, width, and breadth, the thick and the thin, the close and the near, where to grow, where to shrink etc… He was in fact unique in his time, alone in his era in this fine art. He has a lofty position and a deserved fame. Of course, he also introducted to this style many of the calligraphic geniuses that would come after him.

Mir Ali of Herat was a writer of poetry and prose, attracting attention. He stopped writing poetry under the name Katib because he was of Turkish origin and had some Turkish verse. He prepared the most calligraphers in Nastaliq before artistic support came, and he used to sign his writings or his calligraphy scattered here and there in the museums of the world as “Ali,” “poor Ali,” “Mir Ali,” “Ali al-Katib,” “Ali Sultani,” “Ali Husseini,” “Mir Ali al-Katib,” “Mir Ali Sultani,” “Ali Harwi (Herati),” “Ali Husseini Harwi,” “Ali al-Katib al-Sultani,” and that of course paved the way for a mix-up with him and other calligraphers.

He had many students that were raised by his hand. Among the names worth mentioning are Mir Mahmoud Baqir, Sir Mahmoud Shahabi, Mir Said Ahmed, Mir Hussein Bukhari, and Mir Jumla.

He died 951 Hijri, 1544 AD and was buried in Bukhara.

Taken from the book “Tarikh al-Khat al-Arabi wa Ialaam al-Khatateen” History of Arabic Calligraphy and Information About Calligraphers, by Ahmed Sabry. Translated by Josh Berer.

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A Very Important Announcement

November 11, 2007

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Very Important Announcement!

O Good Father, O Loving Mother! May God protect you and look after you and crown you with a safe life.

Be careful of getting separated from your children, especially when you go in any of the markets of our city of security and faith. Be careful, be careful, for this issue is seriously dangerous.

Yesterday shortly after ‘Asr prayers on 23 Shawal 1428 H, I went with my wife and daughter to to Zahrawi Market to do do some shopping. While we were preoccupied our only daughter, a month away from her second birthday, was kidnapped from us. A few minutes later God sent me a child, one of the kids wandering around selling things in the
market, who said to me he saw a girl outside the market screaming in the hands of a woman who wore signs of uneasiness. I ran without feelings of panic outside the market, and there I found my daughter. There I found my soul, and there I returned to life again. My major concern in this unfair world was my daughter. I didn’t bother with the veiled woman, as she escaped and infiltrated a large group of women. I beg all my brother fathers and my sister mothers to not find themselves in that situation, lethal and suffocating for any happy soul, for death is easier than having one’s child taken from your hands. This is what I want to say: the Prophet, (PBUH) said, “None of you believe, until you love your brother as you love yourself.” Praise God who, in his kindness, completes good deeds, and I urge those in authority to be on the lookout for dangerous occurrences such as this. The responsibility of safety is upon the shepherd and the sheep alike.

Finally, watch out for your children, for we live in bad times, but good things come to those with faith, and by God I ask that you be safe from hunger and fear, and all distress and tribulations, and peace be upon you, with the mercy and blessings of God.

By Dirham al-Ahmadi, Translated by Josh Berer

Vocabulary and Translation Notes

الموافق – Falling on [date]

المبايعة – ٍShopping, buying

تجول – Walking around, wandering

صرخ – To scream, shriek

ارتباك – Uneasiness, distress, discomfort

مذعور – Panic

ملثمة – Veiled

مندسّة – Infiltrator

غفير – Large, numerous

خانق – Strangling, suffocating

أهون – Easier, easiest

صالحات – Good deeds, great things

مآسي – Drama, tragedy

محنة / محن – Ordeal, calamity

Translation Notes

تبلغ العمر سنتان إلا شهراً
A month away from her second birthday, Lit: she reached the age of two, except for a month.

من بين كل هذا العالم الظالم – In this unfair/oppressive world, Lit: from between all this oppressive world.

جهات الاختصاص – The government, those with power or authority

عنق الراعي و الراعية – Upon the shepherd and the sheep Lit: The neck of the Shepard and the sheep. I.e. everyone’s responsibility

على حد سواء –Alike, both,

وقت غير الوفق وزمن غير الزمن – Untimely, bad times

عاقبة للمتقين –Good things come to those with faith, Lit: the result for a God-fearer

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Ahmed al-Aaraf Efendi was born in the year 1246H, 1830G, in the city of Felba, today located on the Bulgarian border. During his education he was the top student of calligraphy, and learned Naskh and Thuluth from a calligrapher from Felba by the name of Ismail Saabur. He received his Ijaza from him and in the year 1293/1876 Aaraf Efendi left Felba and headed first for the Hijaz lands to fulfill the duty of Hajj, then returned to Istanbul and there he opened a corner grocery to bring in enough of an income to live on. During that time he met Showqi Efendi, and he showed him his calligraphy he had done before that, and [Showqi] encouraged him to continue. Aaraf then started up learning in the unique method of that teacher, and started writing in that method. He then left the grocery business and started teaching students at the School of Ottoman Light and at his home, until hundreds of calligraphers had graduated under his tutelage, most prominent among them Sheikh Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Rifa’i.

Al-Hajj Aaraf Efendi was stricken in the last years of his life with paralysis, and died in the year 1327H 1909G, and was buried in the cemetery of Edirne Qabi, next to the famous calligrapher Ismail al-Zahadi.

To al-Hajj Aarif Efendi many works in Naskh and Thuluth are attributed, among them patterns [to be copied], sections [of larger pieces], and ornamentations, [as well as] the Bismillah he wrote in Jali Thuluth in 1314H, 1896G outside the door of the Şehzade mosque in Istanbul, which is worthy of great praise.

He wrote a piece with the characteristics of the Prophet (PBUH) in the Turkish language and in Naskh, and the names of the ten messengers of Paradise in Thuluth, and it was printed in the Ottoman printing houses in Istanbul in the year 1304H.

He also wrote a copy of the five-part Qasida written by Abas Fauzi Ibn Muhammad Efendi Al-Dagestani in the year 1310H. It’s divided into five parts over 14 pages, each page with 12 lines. Its length is 30 centimeters, and its width 20. He wrote this copy in the year 1319H in Naskh, with the exception of the Bismillah which is in Thuluth which he engraved and gilded. This copy is a rare achievement, for the beauty of its calligraphy and the superiority of its gold-work.

He wrote a piece with Surah Ya-Sin on it, with blessings on the the Prophet (PBUH), and his honorable names, and the names of some of the Companions, and many of the supplications of God. He wrote it in 1323H and is engraved, gilded, and illuminated with unprecedented illumination.

Taken from the book “Tarikh al-Khat al-Arabi wa Ialaam al-Khatateen” History of Arabic Calligraphy and Information About Calligraphers, by Ahmed Sabry. Translated by Josh Berer.

Vocabulary

أفندي – Efendi, honorific in Ottoman

أثناء – During

الثلث – Thuluth/Sulus, a style of calligraphy, often considered the most elegant

النسخ – Naskh/Nesih, the most basic form of calligraphy

إجازة – Icazet, the degree awarded to aspiring calligraphers

أداء – Performance, execution, completion

مورد – Income

رزق – Ones daily needs, basic requirments

أطلع – Show, present to

شرع + مضارع – Start to, begin to

حرفة – Job, work, business

ابرز – بارز Most prominent, superlative of

أصيب – To be stricken with

شلل – Paralysis

مقبرة – Cemetary

أمشاق – Patterns, forms to be copied

لاقت – To be worthy of

لوحة – Lit. Board, often used for artistic pieces

الآستانة – Constantinople

مبشرين – Bearers of glad tidings

ألف – To write a book

نسخة – A copy, a version

ما عدا – With the exception of

منال – Achievement, accomplishment

منقوشة – Engraving

زخرفة – Embellishment, ornamentation