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Mohammad Zubair’s passion is keeping the lost art of Calligraphy alive

Sumana Mukherjee/New Delhi

The whole world was about to turn dark for a teenage boy before he had even explored the vibrant shades of life. The doctor advised the 18-year-old not to stress his eyes with reading, or writing, for he could turn blind. Mohammad Zubair was speaking about this dark phase of his childhood that could shatter his dream of mastering the art of Calligraphy.

It was no less than a miracle that today 30 years later, Mohammad Zubair is a professional calligrapher. Going down memory lane, Zubair said he was born with impaired eyesight and it was only detected when he was 18 years of age. Today he thanks almighty for turning his helplessness into possibilities.

Beautiful art pieces created by Mohammad Zubair

Today Zubair, a Delhi-based artist is well known for his artistic writing – the ancient art of Calligraphy – which is almost lost in the modern age of computer software revolution.

Mohammad Zubair started taking an interest in Calligraphy when he was studying in the 7th standard. He was inspired by his brother Hafiz Muhammad Akram who became a renowned Calligraphy artist at a young age.

He said “My brother had always been my inspiration. I started learning Calligraphy when I was in the 7th standard and it attracted me for some unknown reason.”

Mohammad Zubair busy  creating his art work

“Right from my childhood I suffered partial visual impairment and due to that, it was quite difficult for me to continue with my studies and Calligraphy as well.  I used to make greeting cards for every occasion and I started receiving praise for my creativity. That’s how it started motivating me. Although my family asked me not to get into this lost art as it might not give me earning opportunities, I was determined to continue with my passion.”

After he was promoted to the 12th standard, doctors advised him to leave studies as well as calligraphy to save his eyesight. It was heart-breaking for Mohammad Zubair and his parents but destiny had decided something else.

A spiritual person Zubair said, “It was only the mercy of Allah that despite all negative aspects I passed the 12th examination and could make it to the college along with my obsession- Calligraphy – which I wanted to continue as my profession.”

He told Awaz-the Voice, “I could establish myself as a Calligraphy artist in Delhi and teach to many students who want to learn this lost art. I set up Sofiya Foundation to work for promoting calligraphy among young children.”

On the importance of Calligraphy, Zubair said “The first and foremost thing that attracted me towards this was its connection with the divine. The Holy Quran was written in Arabic and Islamic Calligraphy was used in it. I thought of writing the verses of the Holy Quran with my hands and that could be the best reward in itself.”

Islamic calligraphy was used for holy books like the Holy Quran and secular works like poetry, and songs but it also found its way into almost every other art form, including architecture. Beautiful calligraphy can be seen on the walls of mosques, palaces, and other structures of the Sultanate and Mughal eras.

He told Awaz that it is the responsibility of all art lovers to work to keep all the lost art forms alive. “This should always be a joint effort,” he said.

Numerous museums, libraries, and institutions across India are dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich legacy of Indian calligraphy. The National Museum in New Delhi houses an extensive collection of manuscripts, inscriptions, and calligraphic artifacts. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi also conserves rare manuscripts and calligraphic materials

When asked about the survival of this lost art in the modern age of Artificial Intelligence, The Calligraphy artist replied “No matter how far the technology goes, it is the passion of people that will keep this age-old art alive.”

Mohammad Zubair’s tryst with Calligraphy is 20 years long and yet he continues to explore more every day. His favourite colours are brown and blue in calligraphy. He said that through his artwork, he expresses his thankfulness to the almighty who made it possible for him.

Interestingly, he said, women are taking more interest in Calligraphy these days and their parents are encouraging them.

While talking to Awaz, Mohammad Zubair said “Fine Art is different from Calligraphy, and there are several schools for learning the art of calligraphy in India. There are around 45 schools that help people learn Calligraphy in India and most of them are aided by the Government”.

Is Calligraphy a profitable profession?

He replied, “Calligraphy may not bring as much money as other modern professions but surely it brings happiness and peace; it gives you gratification and contentment that money can’t buy. Art is the celebration of life, celebration of beauty, and celebration of bliss.”

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