Rendering The Tradition


This article “Rendering The Tradition” was first featured in: Asian Geographic magazine, Cultures of Islam Edition. No. 81 Issue 4/2011. Pg 86.

Article written by: Faizal Somadi. • Featured calligraphy masthead design on cover by: Faizal Somadi • Photography by: Jon Ramlan/Hairol Mahsus

When the Holy Quran commands: “Read!”, I recalled the teachings of my late grandfather who taught me about the evolution of scripts through religion, culture and civilization which reflects the importance of communication in delivering knowledge to mankind. From cavemen’s illustrations on the mountain walls, to scripts written on parchments and to the world of pixels that take forms of the digital language. It is a wonder how these systems of communication evolved from the practicality of it to the fine artistry in it.

Doodling, scribbling and drawing are my natural habits as young as two years old. At eight, I adopted my grandfather’s habits of writing a dairy, admiring his handwritings even until he passed away. It was fortunate to receive my first calligraphy lesson when I was only ten in the elementary school. By eleven, apart from drawing, copying school textbooks was my simple hobby. The joy of writing bloomed further as I excel in calligraphy through which I created some monumental pieces for my high school. Despite being comfortable with it, I never want to use it for my art examination subject. Ever since then, it has become a hobby and a habit.

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The Practise of Khat

The traditional practise of “khat” or Arabic calligraphy is physically a very solemn quiet world. Unlike the modern street or home-style calligraphy, or fusions of urban and classical calligraffiti of modern today, it can be a lively exuberant work of art that can be publicly engaging or visually interactive, especially meeting the energetic eyes of the upcoming ultra-modern generations. However, if one may observe, it’s rooted back to emotional notions of messages, mostly caged in the hearts of the streets of everyday life, cross-firings of opinions intertwined among different levels and textures of society, only with limited materials, energised by the desire to express, thence creativity of messages sprouted quietly like viruses. It took decades crossing over the intellectual red, blue and white tapes of the society before it could be accepted as part of human science. And no they are not viruses, they are simply expressions of human energy.

The world of the pen is a different realm of civilisation. Much, much different than what we think we could justify with our intelligence, by defining and redefining things over thousands and thousands of pages, through the humble companions of pen, ink and paper. And now, the keyboard and the screen.

In this article, we are featuring a 4-min documentary video on the practise of Khat. The intention of this documentary is to give an insight to the practise of Arabic calligraphy. It unveils the quiet routine drills of a khat practitioner, whereby the moments of the heart, mind and soul are working in unison, submitting to the principles, discipline and philosophy of the craft.

While physically it’s a quiet world on the outside, it may be and extremely exhaustive world on the inside. The practitioner is constantly coordinating its senses, making deals with the pen, ink and paper, talking to the letters and spaces, at times getting lost on the track, yet searching for potential viable paths of construction, all these just to compose a message. And the practitioner is not merely dealing with what we call “pen, ink and paper”, but sensitive components of fibres, molecules and grains. A lot of times facing disagreements with all these entities, and sometimes managed agreeable terms, and seldom, a practitioner is able to achieve a successful engagement to finalised a letterform into a master class of its own. And to repeat an achievement, one has to engage another deal of negotiation, which usually grew much difficult. The higher the achievement, the more difficult to climb the path. The strive to learn, to unlearn and relearn, and to shave off every single dust of complacency at any point of time, is a must.

The submission is harsh. And therefore perfection could only be a dream. The past calligraphy masters continued their dreams to the realm of eternity.

We hope you’ve gain a better insight through our short video here. And hope that you’ve achieved a better understanding on khat. And certainly, we hope you would give it a try! And for those who have been practising, keep on it.

And if you’re interested on the craft of calligraphy pen-making, checkout our article on Qalam Crafting by clicking HERE. 

Till then thank you for keeping up with us, we hope to update more things to you in the future!






Where is An Artist’s Honesty?

“There is a big difference between inspired from artists’ other works and copying from. A true artist is honest with himself and his art, he has no problem mentioning from where he got the inspiration from, while dishonest artists, they do things and pass it as (if) its their original idea. These artists are unethical and unprofessional.

There is a big difference between creative inspiration (while mentioning the source) and imitation (while saying its your invention).”



by Wissam Shawkat, 2015 November 29.


Qalam Crafting

The “qalam” is generally an Arabic term for “pen”, a common domestic writing instrument. However, it is notably recognised as a calligraphy pen used in “khat” another Arabic term for calligraphy, an Arabic art of beautiful writing.

To craft a reed or bamboo into a pen is generally not much of a difficulty. A sturdy, hard and straight wooden stick is good to begin with, along with a very sharp knife (the sharper the better), which is (critically) the pen’s best friend. This is considered as a form of traditional art of crafting a pen.

However, fine-tuning or detail operations in crafting of the pen for certain aesthetic and functional levels may require a good amount of time to train the eyes, hand-skills and the ability to feel the fibres of the material in order to understand how and what can it work for. This may take a good amount of 3 years, of regular carving experiments and training on different materials.

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Hello! We are at ACAC.

ACAC 2015.

Verily, within the crafts of our hands, we seek to understand our true self.

Hello everyone! We are proud to tell you that we are operating at ACAC! And what is ACAC?

Faddho has been working hand-in-hand with As-Souq Arabic Academy for a while now, which we have collaborated together in variety of courses and programmes. Apart from looking into the world of language, upholding and preserving the arts and culture of the Arabic world has taken into our concerns. And so, we decided to form and launch the ACAC, knownly as As-Souq Calligraphy and Arts Circle.

ACAC is a special club formed to provide space for practising of Arabic calligraphy and arts. This club would love to invite all calligraphy students of As-Souq to join this space where one can practice Arabic calligraphy and arts with the assistance of our facilitators. We also would like to extend our welcome to any Arabic art enthusiasts and practitioners, or even those who are totally new to As-Souq and our programmes. All are welcome to join!

What do you do at ACAC?

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Tune your focus. Witness the beauty.

Join us in our Arabic Calligraphy Basic Course!


We are running it again for the coming January 2015 for enriching weekend sessions!

Participants will learn the alphabetic fundamentals of the Classical Nasakh Script, which is one of the important foundations to the other grand classical family scripts.

This workshop aims to introduce participants to the fundamentals and basics of Arabic calligraphy. Participants will learn how to write the basics of Nasakh script, which is the fundamental to all other forms of cursive Arabic scripts. Nasakh is one of the prime classical master-script, and also the foundation for 6 classical master pens. For about 300 years, the majestic Kufi script has been dominating the transcription of the Holy Quran, as the official Mushaf script. Thence, Nasakh script took over and its styles has been the dominating script to this date.

Nasakh, which means: transcribing, evolved in Baghdad, which was the early capital of Islam and centre of Arab. The foundation of Nasakh script can be traced back to as early as 750 AD or even earlier. In the 10th-11th century AD, master calligraphers perfected this Nasakh script and it grew to become official script till today. In this modern day, the fundamentals of Arabic calligraphy, and advance typography still refers to Nasakh script as a standard guide to develop the Arabic alphabet writing/typing system.

Apart from understanding the art and culture of Arabic calligraphy, this experience will not only allow a person to express themselves beautifully through writing, but also in various aspects of discipline, therapeutic thinking and understanding, exploration and discovery of oneself, and many other forms of personal development. At the end of the workshop, this programme aims to get participants to understand and appreciate Arabic calligraphy not only in various perspectives and depths, but importantly going through the door to the beauty of Arabic and Islamic arts in its most authentic way.

For direct contact, you can look for Ms Nuriah @ tel 6365-6911. Please keep and share the following details!


Course Title: Arabic Calligraphy – Nasakh Basic Course

Dates: 17, 24, 31 Jan and 07 Feb – 2015, (4 Saturdays)
Time: 10.30 am – 12.30 pm (2hrs x 4 Sessions)
Venue: Fuchun Community Club. 1 Woodlands Street 31, Singapore 738581.

Age/Levels: 15 years and above, all levels. No Arabic knowledge required. Non-Muslims are welcomed!
Language: English
Materials: Will be provided. Material fees included.

Fees: SGD$100.00 (M) SGD$110.00 (NM)



This programmes are organised and supported by People’s Association and brought to you by Faddho. 2015.

For more info:

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