LAHORE-Every region and country has its own unique style of calligraphy. Iranian, Turkish, Syrian styles of calligraphy have their own unique mark. Over the years the calligraphers of Lahore have developed their own style of calligraphy in Nastaliq script. Foremost of its promoters is Ahmed Ali Bhutta has been working to polish this art for 40 years.

He is among the most renowned calligraphers of Pakistan known for his intricate curlicues and standout designs. At a very young age Ahmed studied Islamic Calligraphy and became master in Nastaliq, Thuluth and Kufic Scripts. He does not charge any fee for teaching the art of calligraphy. He says it is for Allah Almighty who provides him with everything that he needs. In an interview with The Nation he explains his career and success in the art of calligraphy. Following are excerpts of the interview:

“I was first introduced to calligraphy when I was in 7th grade. My teachers were impressed with my writing style. During that time access to the internet was basically non-existent. I got training by Hafiz Muhammad Yousaf Sadeedi. So, I would imitate designs from calligraphy done in old Islamic books. It was this love that threw me into the desert of Islamic calligraphy and I started writing headlines for Nawa-i-Waqt newspaper.

“I have trained so many students that I have lost their count. I have talent and expertise in Arabic penmanship and the youth should have awareness about this art,” he said.

About the Islamic Calligraphy he was of the view that the development of Islamic calligraphy is strongly tied to the Quran chapters, and excerpts from the Quran are a common and almost universal text upon which Islamic calligraphy is based.

“Deep religious association with the Qur'an is must to learn this art. Calligraphy has become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures but the dilemma today is that this art is neglected and never promoted in our country. The government should focus on this issue and have calligraphy as a permanent subject in schools and universities. So, that youth should have knowledge about it,” he added.

About his current project Ahmed explained that he is writing 8th Sapara of HolyQuran which is soon to be completed. “I have written more than 150 books on calligraphy and more than 100 varsi’s on Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and many other topics which have won appreciation from all over the world.

“Kufic is the oldest calligraphic form of the various Arabic scripts and consists of a modified form of the old Nabataean script. After 8th century I was the first calligrapher given the opportunity to write 11volumes of Kufic and the expertise’s approved them,” he said.

“The places which I have designed through my work of calligraphy are in Data Darbar, Shalamar Bagh, Darbar Baba Hassan Din and many others,” he said.

About his achievement he explained that in 2007 he won award in the Jali Thuluth category in the highly regarded International Calligraphy Competition organized by IRCICA (Research Centre for Islamic History, Art & Culture, Istanbul), achieved three awards for best calligrapher by Ghazali Trust foundation and best calligrapher award by All Pakistan Media Association. He has organized a number of workshops on calligraphy and displayed his work in exhibitions both nationally and internationally.  He concluded the conversation saying that “my career as a calligrapher is quite difficult to explain. Initially, there was financial risk but I struggled hard and never quit this profession and today with the grace of Allah Almighty my work is appreciated all over the world,” Ahmed said.