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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Khurshid Alam
Nurturing the art of calligraphy
By Reyazul Hasan

Khurshid Alam, a native of former princely state of Tonk in Rajasthan, is today an acclaimed calligrapher. A disciple of Munshi Khaleeq, himself a renowned calligrapher of Tonk who nurtured and promoted the art of calligraphy in India after partition, he visited almost every part of India in connection with the exhibition of his wonderful pieces of calligraphy in Urdu, Persian and Arabic.

In 1989-90 he took part in All India Jammu & Kashmir calligraphic competition and was awarded Rs 1000 in cash along with complimentary certificate. On 26 January 1990 he was honoured with a certificate awarded by the Collector of Tonk. In 1991 he presented calligraphic monograms to Iranian guests in Iran Culture House who also highly praised his art and honoured him with certificates. He was also specially invited to Iran where an international exhibition of Qur’anic calligraphy was organised where he was flooded with awards and certificates. In this way he not only brought fame to himself but to his country also and brought his native place. Tonk on the world map of calligraphy.

In 2000 Iran Culture House New Delhi organised an exhibition on calligraphy where his artistic pieces were exhibited.

In this exhibition he was chosen as India’s best calligrapher. On 25 March 2001 a meeting in his honour was held in Tonk’s Darul Uloom Khalilia where too he was honoured. In the year 2002 Rotary International and another organisation, Indian Minority in Majority Committee honoured him with shields and complementary certificates. His other masterpieces are ‘Ayatal Kursi’ on the arches of Deoband’s Masjid Asfaria different ‘ayats’ of the Qur’an on 96ft long space in a Jaipur’s Jama Masjid.

National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL)’s director, Dr Hamidullah Bhat, himself a great connoisseur and promoter of, calligraphy, set up an institution ‘Calligraphy & Graphic Design Centre and its branches in different cities of the country. He also introduced a 2-year course in calligraphy in this Centre where Khurshid Alam’s book ‘Urdu Khushnawisi’ (Urdu Calligraphy) is prescribed in the second year. This book is really his master piece and contains, in addition to brief history of different types and styles of calligraphy, his own artistic and marvellous pieces of calligraphy which will certainly inspire the students of this art.

At present this young artist is employed as a calligraphist in the world-famous Abul Kalam Azad Arabic and Persian Research Institute, Tonk (Rajasthan). ‘Khurshid’ in Urdu means ‘sun’. So it would not be wrong to say that rays of this human sun are lighting the world of calligraphy in India. 

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