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A Canvas of Spirituality

A Canvas of Spirituality

Issue 71 August 2010

Islamic calligraphy is a revered art form in the Muslim world. Fatema Zehra profiles two calligraphy artists who share a deep passion for the elegance and refined beauty of the art.


Aadil Abedi



Aadil Abedi is a fresh graduate, who creates authentic calligraphy pieces, with a contemporary touch.  His work has been displayed in exhibitions across the world, from the UK to India.

Coming from an Indian background but having been brought up in a western country, I have the benefit of incorporating different styles from my experience of a dual culture. I often find that this has influenced some of my work; especially with a lot of my pieces which attribute a modern touch to traditional script.
So many aspects of my life inspire my work; it could be the unusual colours or varying textures that I come across, the mood that I’m in and even my mum’s saris!
I like vibrant colours as well as beautiful designs such as the damask print. I like my work to be more than just interior design; essentially, it should reflect your lifestyle and personality.
I have always tried to project my own faith into my work, and I find the sacred text mesmerising. I feel humbled by this God-given opportunity to be able to express the beauty of the Qur’anic verse in different ways. I aim to have not only the words reflect the meaning of the verses, but also the colours, design and paint. That aim then drives me to take the utmost care and respect with my work.
My practice of Islamic calligraphy has also been a great learning curve for me; aiding me in my understanding and knowledge of the Arabic language. Being able to understand the words that I paint allows me to envisage the importance they carry to the people I paint for.
Most of my paintings keep the verses and words as the central focus, but knowing that what I am writing is so sacred, I am always inspired to come up with unique and memorable designs, to really show off the beauty and sanctity of God’s words to the world.


Aneela Mushtaq



Aneela Mushtaq has been practicing Islamic calligraphy for the past five years. Citing God, the Infinite as her inspiration, she is captivated by endless beauty of the natural world. Her work is exhibited at the Mica Gallery, London.

As a teenager, I studied Biblical texts with Christian groups for many years, and then went onto study Islam.  I have a BA in Islamic studies and even now, I have a small library of Biblical and Qur’anic literature which I regularly refer to for research. When I study divine texts, I tend to go into a deeper level of meaning and attempt to translate it into artwork and poetry. When people look at each of my pieces, I intend for them to get an insight into the world I experience with faith.
The process of a piece of work doesn’t come from a conscious thought – I don’t sit down and think, ‘I’m going to paint now’. Instead, it stems from feelings for the things around me that have inspired me. Sometimes these can manifest in images, and other times in words that form in the heart. I believe faith has to flow in this way, rather than remain rigid and restricted; therefore most of my paintings are very symbolic. They try to overlook the outer form and manifestation of created things and attempt to look deeper with several mea  nings that I try to translate using colours, textures and shapes.
I came to the realisation that everything I do is centred around my love for God, and my work is an extension of the worship and faith I have towards Him. Everything my eyes behold is an inspiration to me - confirming God’s greatness and majesty; from the natural world and the great forces of the elements, to life and living which is divine proof of His existence. We merely require our eyes to see this reality and the heart to feel it. I am moved by God’s awe inspiring universe and His unfathomable love for His creation.


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