An Arabic teacher gives a fresh breath of life to Arabic calligraphy.

Arabic calligraphy in the State has got a fresh breath of life with a school teacher popularising the art through the pictures of political leaders. Abdu Chappanangadi, Arabic teacher at KSKM UP School, Cherukulambu here, released the pictures of Syed Mohammedali Shihab Thangal and Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, his latest calligraphic creations, on Friday.

Mr. Abdu had become the first calligrapher in the country to draw a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in Arabic calligraphy a few months ago. His exhibition of calligraphic work at an Arabic expo held here as part of the State School Arts Festival in January this year had pulled in large crowds. “I started calligraphy as a curious hobby many years ago. Now, it has become a serious art with the portraits of personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad taking shape through Arabic letters,” said Mr. Abdu.

Though calligraphy means beautiful handwriting, Arabic calligraphy has developed into an established art with the Koran itself being its lead promoter. In calligraphic art, Arabic script is used to give shape to figures and images. Experts say that Arabic calligraphy developed largely because of the taboo in representing God or other live beings in Islamic art. “Calligraphy is generally considered a revered art in Islamic culture,” said Mr. Abdu. Walls and ceilings of mosques across the world, including many in Kerala, have Arabic inscriptions in calligraphic forms. The names of Allah and Prophet Mohammed are inscribed in calligraphic style in most cases.

However, Mr. Abdu broke the tradition of abstract creations by giving shape to portraits in calligraphy. Former leaders of the Kerala Arabic Teachers Federation such as C.H. Hamza and M. Beeran introduced Mr. Abdu to the Thangal family of Panakkad, which was wonderstruck by his calligraphic skills.

Indian Union Muslim League president Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal released a calligraphic painting of his elder brother Syed Mohammed Ali Shihab Thangal and party general secretary K.P.A. Majeed released a painting of Mr. Hyderali Shihab Thangal at Panakkad.

Mr. Abdu’s may be the first book on Arabic calligraphy published in Kerala. He is travelling across the State to popularise the art of calligraphy. He has won many prizes for preparing logos and emblems for various organisations and purposes. He offers tips to calligraphy enthusiasts as well. He can be contacted at Ph: 9744302622.