By: Laraib Hashmi
Ayesha Ahmad, 28, represents her appreciation and love for the verses of the Quran in the most beautiful way. She likes to focus all her positive energy into her calligraphy which has become a form of therapy for her.
Modern, colorful and simply breathtaking!
When did you first get started?
I officially got started around 2013, but my initial interest started after being exposed to it from a young age. I attended an Islamic school and I was around the Arabic language a lot, so Islamic art and writing was something I took interest in and appreciated. As I grew older, other interests took precedence and I sort of forgot about my love for it, but after finishing my formal education and during a period of unemployment, I rediscovered my love for it and started practicing as a hobby.
Why did you choose calligraphy in particular?
I appreciate many different forms of art but calligraphy just appeals to me more. I love and enjoy writing in general, so calligraphy was just something that came naturally to me. I am interested in all forms of it in different languages; I am currently trying to improve my hand at English lettering too, but Arabic Calligraphy is my focus.
Were there special moments that pushed you to start?
As I mentioned before, I started during a period of unemployment. During this time, for many reasons, which I won’t go into, I was struggling personally, with anxiety and insomnia. Calligraphy became a form of therapy to me. It was a great way for me to occupy my time through a difficult stage in my life. It helped me control my emotions and focus my energy on doing something productive.
I started posting pictures of my work just for fun, but as I kept doing it, people started encouraging me and taking interest in what I was doing. It was surprising to me as I didn’t really think I was any good. It still surprises me even now. But the encouragement was great, and eventually I started getting messages from people asking me if I would consider selling, so eventually I set up my Facebook page in 2015, and started creating and selling made-to-order pieces.
What message do you like sending through your art?
I never really thought about what kind of message I was sending at first… for me it was a hobby and something I enjoyed doing. But I realized that I love giving other people an appreciation for the words of the Quran, and the beauty of the Arabic language in general. With so many ugly things portrayed about Islam in the media, Arabic is often seen as a harsh language, implying something scary and violent. But Arabic calligraphy provides a stark contrast to this opinion. It shows people the beauty of the language, and so how can something so beautiful come from something so ugly? It can’t, in my opinion. I hope that it makes people question their pre-conceived notions about the language and about the Quran.
Your hopes? What do you want to accomplish with your calligraphy?
I love experimenting with different mediums, and trying new things in my work, so my main hope is to keep learning and improving for my own satisfaction. That’s the only reason I started doing it in the first place. Appreciation, recognition and encouragement are just bonuses for me. These things help me understand whether or not I’m improving, so I welcome the criticism as well as the support.
In the future, I also hope to start changing the direction of my art, so that I can express my views and opinions on different issues through this medium and hopefully encourage awareness and discussion of different issues that affect us all as human beings, whether these be political, social or things that are more personal to me. I also hope to continue to create pieces using the Qur’an and other religious texts, as they serve as a reminder to myself as well as others.