By: Salwa Samir
When he was a pupil in primary school, Ahmed el-Saeed noticed that his handwriting was very bad and his colleagues made fun of his scribbly script.
Though this upset him, it did not discourage him and he set out to improve his writing. He asked the Arabic-language teacher at his school to help him improve his longhand.
The result was that El-Saeed earned his teacher’s admiration by learning fast and showing talent for Arabic calligraphy. El-Saeed is now called “the young calligrapher” and he has been able to teach his peers and even people older than he is.
“Under his teacher’s tutelage, he learnt all the calligraphy fonts in just two years.
“When I was ten, I asked my Arabic teacher Mr El-Merghani Saleh to teach me calligraphy; he taught me all the fonts,” El-Saeed told the Egyptian Mail.
“I started by learning to write the Arabic alphabet in the Naskh and Riq’ah scripts and then my teacher gave me sentences to write,” he said.
Naskh is a specific style of Arabic writing which was invented in the 10th Century. Modern Arabic print is based on it.
Riq'ah first appeared in the 9th Century. It is known for its clipped letters composed of short, straight lines and simple curves, as well as its straight and even lines of text.
El-Saeed said that when he turned 12 he was able to produce faultless writing. He later learnt to write in Thuluth, Diwani, Kufic and Persian.
Thuluth is a variation of Naskh that is a display script used to decorate certain scriptural objects. The letters have long vertical lines and broad spacing.
The Kufic script is an early angular form of the Arabic alphabet found chiefly in decorative inscriptions.
Diwani is a cursive style of Arabic calligraphy developed in the 16th and early 17th Centuries.
El-Saeed is now writing the Qur’an in Uthmani script, at the request of his parents.
The young calligrapher does not sell his works, because he believes his talent is a gift from God which he wants to use to teach people Arabic calligraphy.
“I have a Facebook page and groups on WhatsApp with many fans who want to learn calligraphy,” he said.
The young calligrapher laments the fact that though many people are interested in learning Arabic calligraphy, more people are not paying attention to the Arabic language itself.
“Use of the Franco handwriting style is increasing among young people and there are sites that offer translation from Franco to Arabic. This could destroy our language over time,” he said sadly.
“People are eager to learn English and other foreign languages and they even use them when they chat. When you ask them about the alphabet of their mother tongue, their answer is ‘I don’t know it’.”
In August, El-Saeed will take part in a group exhibition in Daqahlia in order to increase awareness of Arabic calligraphy and the language itself.
“I hope that schools in Egypt will start paying more attention to the Arabic Calligraphy class, instead of turning it into a time for sports and hobbies,” he said.