Islamic Calligraphy, as the name suggests is a form of calligraphy majorly used to spread the word of Islam, in an artistic form. Islamic calligraphy first came into existence a few thousand years back. Some of the popular forms of Islamic calligraphy are Arabic, Turkish and Persian. Among these, Arabic calligraphy is considered the most prominent form of Islamic calligraphy used today, so much so that Islamic calligraphy is even colloquially called Arabic calligraphy.
The key tools needed to practice Islamic calligraphy are paper, ink, pen or pencil. Islamic calligraphers generally use glossy paper so that their pens glide across the surface. Apart from using paper, Islamic calligraphers have also used other mediums such as glass, stone carvings, wood, carpets, metal and various other materials. However, to begin with the art, you can use available magazines or newspapers. Ink of various colors is used in Islamic calligraphy to emphasize the art. The pen, or "qalam" in Arabic, was originally made of bamboo or reed sharpened at a particular angle. Make sure the pen in your calligraphy set has its nib cut an angle of 35-40 degrees. You can even go for a pencil, which is handy and economical. An ordinary 2H pencil, a combination of two pencils tied together or a carpenter pencil with its nib sharpened at a certain angle are all suitable for writing Islamic calligraphy.
Islamic calligraphy can be represented either as writing or pictorially. There are various styles of writing Islamic calligraphy such as Geometric style and the more popular cursive style. Cursive writing is simpler and easy to read and write. The six basic cursive scripts, made prevalent by Ibn al-Bawwab and Yaqut al-Mustacsimi are as follows:
One of the most used styles of writing Islamic calligraphy, it is a simple cursive style of writing. In this style, the letters are slender without particular emphasis on any of them, thus making the script easily understandable.
This style of writing contains letters which are elongated vertically. This style of writing is usually seen in monuments and mosques.
This style of writing uses wide curves and elongated verticals. In Abbassid caliphate, this style of writing was used for signatures on official documents but today, it is used very little.
A version of Tawqi, this style is also not in common practice today.
In this style of writing, the ends of the letters are elongated with the curves underlining the text.
Is a version of Muhaqqaq.
The other cursive styles of writing created by the Persians were Nata'liq and Diwani, based on the cursive style. Today, the most commonly used style of writing is Ruqah, a version of the Naskh script, which is easy to read and write.
You can learn a lot by observing the ancient carvings made by Islamic calligraphers in mosques and other monuments build by Turkish, Persian or Arabic rulers. Search online to get a glimpse of these exquisite pieces of art. You can even get hold of books on Islamic calligraphy such as "The Splendor of Islamic Calligraphy" by Abdelkebir Khatibi. Like any other hobby, consistent practice is the best way to learn Islamic calligraphy.