Theme for 2015: Arabic; Language of the Quran

Arabic; Language of the Quran

Note to Artists: Artists are encouraged to use any phrase or text from Quran and/or Arabic alphabets in their Artwork.  They will have to make sure that the Arabic text is written correctly.

Quran, the literal word of God was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), in Arabic language over a period of 23 years, starting in 610 CE. Quran, which literally mean “recitation”, has been preserved in its original Arabic form for the last fourteen centuries. Quran contains guidance and a complete code of life for all humanity.  The main themes of Quran are oneness of God, basics of faith and worship, afterlife, stories of previous prophets and social justice for all regardless of social status or gender.

God says in the Quran:

Joseph (12:2)

“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.”

The Troops (39:28)

“[It is] an Arabic Quran, without any deviance that they might become righteous.”

The Night Journey (17:9,10)

“Indeed, this Quran guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings

to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward.

And that those who do not believe in the Hereafter –

We have prepared for them a painful punishment.”

The Moon (54:17)

“And We have certainly made the Qur’an easy for remembrance,

so is there any who will remember?

Arabic, the language of Quran is the largest living member of the Semitic language family in terms of speakers. It is closely related to Hebrew and Aramaic. Semitic languages are based on a consonantal root system. Every word in Arabic is derived from one or another root word (most likely a verb).

The word “Arab” means “nomad”, and Arabic was originally the language of itinerant tribes in the desert regions of the Arabian Peninsula. Prose, poetry and oral literature were common ways to communicate through Arabic in those times. Arabic is now the 6th most spoken language in the world and is spoken by more than 200 million people worldwide.

Arabic has 28 letters and is written from right to left in its own unique cursive script, meaning that certain letters must be connected to others whether in writing or printing. While no distinction exists between capital and lower case letters, a letter may occur in more than one form depending on its position in the word and what other letters surround it.

Importance of Arabic for Muslims

The original Arabic text of the Qur’an has been preserved from the time of its revelation. Translations have been done into many languages, but they all refer back to the original Arabic. In order to fully understand the magnificent words of their Lord, Muslims make every attempt to understand the rich and poetic classical Arabic language.

Ninety percent of the world’s Muslims do not speak Arabic as their native language. Yet in daily prayers, when reading the Quran, or even in simple conversations with each other, Arabic rolls off any Muslim’s tongue readily. It may be broken or heavily accented, but most Muslims make the attempt to speak and understand at least some Arabic. Regardless of their linguistic, cultural, and racial differences, Muslims form one community of believers. Arabic thus serves as a common language among this diverse community of believers.

Arabic as an Art Form

As Islam spread throughout the world over the centuries, Arabic alphabet was adopted by several non-Arab nations for writing their own languages. From its simple and primitive early examples of the 5th and 6th century A.D., the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly after the rise of Islam in the 7th century into a beautiful form of art.

The main reason for the development of Arabic as an art form was that since Arabic is the language of the Islam’s divine text – the Quran, and that copying the Quran not only give a sense of deep satisfaction but also is considered a source of great religious reward for the Muslims.

Another reason was that since the drawing and depiction of human forms is prohibited in Islam because of the danger of idolatry, which goes against the central doctrine of Oneness of God (Tauheed), Muslim artists used Arabic Calligraphy as well as geometrical, botanical and floral themes in all their art pieces. From everyday utilitarian objects such as utensils, furniture and clothing to the Architectures of religious as well as secular buildings, Arabic inscription were used as means of decoration.

Compiled from the following sources:,,