The divine script

The art of Islamic calligraphy

For Muslims, the Qur’an is revered as God’s own art. Islam is essentially an aural religion; God’s word came to the Prophet Muhammad as a voice, instructing him to iqra, “Recite!” In fact, iqra is the word from which we get qur’an, the “reciting.” Reciting or chanting the Qur’an is the highest human art form for Muslims, and over the centuries lusciously melodious chanting styles have developed. But the beautiful writing of God’s word followed close behind.

While iqra is usually translated “Recite!” it can also be translated “Read!” Take the Qur’an’s sura 96 (verses 1-8), in which God the Creator and Sustainer is linked with God as Teacher:

 

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