Jewish, Muslim scribes keep calligraphy art alive

JERUSALEM—In a world overwhelmed by electronic gadgets that have changed the way we read, write and learn, the Jewish and Islamic arts of calligraphy have preserved their methods for generations.

Parchment, feathers and “qalams,” a pen made of dried bamboo, are still used by sophers—Jewish scribes—and khattats—Muslim calligraphers. Calligraphy is one of the main art forms in Judaism and Islam, reflecting how central the word is to both religions.

The Quran has played a major role in the spread of the Arabic language and alphabet, as have Judaism’s Torah and other holy books in the preservation of Hebrew.

Both Muslim and Jewish scribes say deep knowledge of religion infuses the graceful lines of their calligraphy and is essential to the art, which they say ensures the art’s survival into the future—something no electronic tool will be able to bring.

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