The elegant poetry of many Urdu literary stalwarts such as MirzaGhalib, Allama Iqbal, FiraaqGorakphuri, Josh Malihabadi and JaunElia, for example, have since a long time held in admirers. From mehfils and books,they made their way to late-night radio shows.Now, they have a niche following on Facebook and Instagram, where their nazmsare shared by young fans on pages/handles slotted for Urdu poetry. However, the wallpapers that form the backdrop of the Urdu text is quite often loud and shrill, out of tune with their subtle poetry. Their nazmsdeserve a more sober visual treatment. The refined art of calligraphy is apt for depicting snippets of Urdu literature?In the world of Urdu poetry art or Urdu calligraphy art, profound nazmsof many renowned philospophersare inscribed in stylish font, often with a sketch of the poet on the side.

Nastaliq is the calligraphic font used for penning Urdushayari. It was developed in Persian lands in 15th centuryAD after the region was taken over by the Arabs. In Nastaliq font, the letters tilt slightlyfrom left to right, thus rendering an overall ‘hanging’ or ‘ta’liq’ appearance to the script. It was initially meant for writing the Arabic script but with the passage of time, it started being used for writing Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri and Pashto and other languages identical in script. The Nastaliqfont was used for writing court papers and official documents.

It is the main style applied in writing Urdu in the Indian subcontinent. As a large part of the Urdu vocabulary comes Arabic, it can be also be inscribed in other calligraphic styles such as Diwani, Tughra and Thuluth, which are primarily used for Arabiccalligraphy art. However, Urdu still looka best when written in Nastaliq. Or perhaps we are conditioned to read it in Nastaliq style. Also, the script of Urdu is Persian, not Arabic. The two scripts have a slight variance in appearance.

Nastaliqis also appropriate for writing Urdu ghazals as it is simpler and smaller than other fonts, thus taking up lesser space vis a vis others. Therefore, it can accommodate a full Urdu ghazal comfortably on a small sheet of paper which you can paste on your wall.

Is it appropriate to include Urdu poetry artin Islamic calligraphy art? It depends on the content of the text. Generally, most Urdu poetry is secular and non-religious, and therefore, there is no particular reason to slot it in within Islamic calligraphy art. But if an Urdu poem derives inspiration from Islamic scriptures or values, there is no harm in including it in Islamic calligraphy art. Also, Urdu translations of Quranic verses or the Hadith, if written in calligraphy, can be included in Islamic calligraphy art. It must be remembered that Islamic calligraphy art has expanded to include languages other than Arabic. For example, one can find calligraphy English translations of the verses.

Therefore, the world of Urdu calligraphy artis large – it can be both religious and non-religious Urdu poetry art.