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Subject:

First exhibition of Pakistani calligraphy in Saudi Arabia

Promotion of Pakistan’s soft cultural image is something that should be the first and foremost objectives of our foreign policy. It is particularly important today when Pakistan is getting bad press not only in hostile states but also in friendly countries. We are happy to note that at least one Consulate of Pakistan is fully aware of its responsibilities in the domain of public and cultural diplomacy. The Consulate General of Pakistan, Jeddah deserves all commendation for holding the first ever exhibition of Pakistani calligraphy first in Jeddah in October 2011 and later in Riyadh in February 2012. We were impressed to see skillful mobilization of the Saudi businesses to hold this event. The consulate in Jeddah was able to make this event which was purely for Pakistani calligraphers an international event by involving diplomatic corps as well as Saudi media. Their efforts led to sponsorship of this event in a five-star hotel as well as travel arrangements for 16 renowned calligraphers who visited Jeddah for this work. The exhibition in which we all participated in Jeddah continued for 4 days in Jeddah and 5 days in Riyadh. It attracted a large number of Saudi dignitaries including several members of the Royal family and Saudi bureaucracy as well as members of the diplomatic corps and foreign executives working in Saudi Arabia. We were overwhelmed with praise. The visitors were surprised to see our work. What
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was more encouraging was the media coverage of the event in Arabic press and TV channels. It all happened with no cost to the Government of Pakistan. Rather we donated part of our sales to the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund. The Consul General briefed us on the objectives of the event which was to promote the soft image of Pakistan and develop a durable cultural partnership with Saudi Arabia. We are glad to report that the event achieved all these objectives. I think all our diplomats who are taking such Initiatives should be encouraged and supported. And such events should be annually held in all important capitals of the world to showcase our traditional heritage. Participators of Jeddah & Riyadh Exhibition
1: Ibn-e-Kaleem Ahsan Nizami - 2: Rashid Seyal (Multan) 3: Khalid Yousfi - 4:Afrah Fayaz (Islamabad) 5: Irfan Ahmad Khan - 6: Muhammad Ali Qadri 7: Ahmad Ali Bhutta - 8: Muhammad Ali Zahid 9: Rana Riaz Ahmad - 10: Muhammad Asghar Ali (Lahore) 11: M.A Bukhari - 12: Muhammad Kashuf Khan (Karachi) 13: Maqsood Ali Lashari (Quessta) 14: Ilahi Bakhsh Mutee (Haripur) 15: Muhammad Ashraf Heera (Hafizabad) 16: Hafiz Anjum Mahmood (Faisalabad)
(Note: This Letter is also forwarded to Prime Minister of Pakistan, President of Pakistan, Foreign Minister & Foreign Secretary of Pakistan)

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Ibn-e-Kalem has held exhibitions of his work in Multan, Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Quetta Delhi (India), Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), Damask (Syria) and Tehran (Iran) where his work has been loudly acclaimed. He has won the King Khalid Medal for calligraphy the International Commission for the Preservation of Islamic Heritage in Turkey has conferred upon him the title of Nadir ul Qalam. Today, Ibn-e-Kaleem is not only practicing artist but a devoted promoter of the art. He is also actively promoting the understanding of calligraphy among the masses. He has trained thousands of youth including foreign students. He has written three books on the history of the art and many takhtais (tablets) on the mechanics of calligraphy. His book Murraaqa-e-Ra'anae is a huge album in which he has printed variety of his writings showing endless possibilities of his new script. It is the most sumptuous book of the kind published in Pakistan. Besides reproducing Quranic verses, Ibn-eKaleem has also designed beautiful compositions in the form of circular, oval and oblong panels. His circular

signs are specially striking and the 99 names of Allah Karim written in the form of large modulations with

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Shaffiah in the middle of the seventeenth century. Ibn-eKaleem stands alone in the feat. Throughout Islamic history, calligraphy has been most cherished of the fine arts. It forms the basis of our cultural heritage. It is such a deep source of aesthetic pleasure that it has been used on every occasion and on every artifact; coins and swords, guns and cannons, buildings and graveyards headstones, royal ordinances and even on bed spreads. Muslim rulers have been great admirers and patrons of the ancient art. Pakistan has produced great calligraphers such as Taj Zareen Raqam, Hafiz Muhammad Yousaf Sadeedi, Syed Anwar Hussain Nafees Raqam, Sadeqain, and Aslam Kamal. Now the work of Ibn-e-Kaleem – Khataat-e-Haft Qalam (master of the seven pens) – has earned him a place in the history of penmanship. How did he find his métier? Ibn-e-Kaleem, whose real name is Hafiz Mohammad Iqbal Ahsan, was born with a pen in his hand in 1946 in Langah family of Multan. His father Muhammad Hassan Khan Kaleem Raqam was an accomplished calligrapher and a founder
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of a Calligraphy School in Multan while his great grandfather Mulana Qaimuddin Khan Langha was also a renowned master of the art, one of whose master pieces is the Holy Quran on display in the National Museum of Karachi. His sons Muhammad Jamal Muhsin, Hamid Iqbal & Muhammad Mukhtar Ali are also celebrated calligraphers. Given the linage, it is not surprising to see why Ibn-e-Kaleem felt the urge to create a new style of calligraphy, one that reflects his modern mind and sensibilities. And so he came up with a vigorous, jerky, angular, coiling, wriggling and harshly curveting script far removed from the mellifluous and sweetly flowing Nastaleeq we are so familiar with.

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By: Maj (R) Syed Asghar Javed Sherazi In the past few decades, perhaps no calligrapher has created more waves in the field of calligraphy than Ibn-e-Kaleem – the inventor of new script Khate-eRa'ana, which literally means beautiful. Ibn-e-Kaleem already stands above the streams of calligraphers who have come before him.

rules and manners. The trained eye can pick up detectable differences between the work of a professional and an armature. But the difference is more than merely the shapes of letters even though some are obviously round while others oval, some upright and some slanted, some bold and yet some light.

Today he works in his father's studio where he grew up. Experimenting with the styles of Nastaleeq, Kufi, Riqa, Diwani and Naskh, he is churning out master pieces and achieving greater recognition by the day. While to the layman, all calligraphy may look alike, it is a fine and highly developed art with its own
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To come up with a whole new script is a giant task. It involves designing the form of each letter and laying it down in exact proportions and measurements in terms of qat – the square dot of the pen. That is exactly what Ibn-eKaleem has done. Khate-e-Ra'ana is distinct and like no other script in existence. To understand the magnitude of this discovery, it is important to remember that after creation of 'Nastaleeq' by Mir Ali Sultan Tabreezi around 1400 in Persia, no script of Urdu, Persian or Arabic, has ever been invented, with the exception of Mirza Muhammad Hussain who developed the running the running hand version of Nastaleeq called Shakistah in 1616 and Mirza Sultan in Heart who came up with a similar style called
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