Sheikh Uthman Taha
Sheikh Uthman Taha is a well-known Arabic calligrapher who handwrote the Mushaf Al-Madinah, a copy of the Holy Qur’an issued by the King Fahd Complex for Holy Qur’an Printing. Taha is considered one of the Arab world’s most accomplished calligraphers.
Sheikh Taha was born in the Syrian city of Aleppo in 1934. He had a fascination for calligraphy since he was a child, but it took him moving to Damascus (where he obtained a BA in Sharia at Damascus University) to meet Syria’s leading calligrapher, Muhammad Badawi Al-Diyrani, and Iraq’s calligrapher, Hashim Al-Baghdadi. He subsequently travelled to Istanbul, where he met Hamid Al-Amidi, the most famous calligraphy of the day, and gained accreditation from him.
Taha began learning additional scripts when he came to Damascus for university, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now regarded as a master), and Farsi. In 1973, he obtained his calligraphy diploma from Hamed Al-Amadi, a renowned calligrapher.
He moved to Saudi Arabia in 1988 and began working as calligraphy at the King Fahd Complex for Holy Qur’an Printing in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in Ottoman script, and his work has been widely spread throughout the Islamic world.
Taha’s work is distinguished by the fact that each page of the Qur’an he writes ends with a verse. The solution, he continues, is to maintain the letters near to one another while simplifying the phrases — which is the foundation of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions.
Taha spent years honing his approach of uniformly dividing the words in each line so that the space between the letters remains consistent throughout every page of the book, which meant avoiding many of the script combinations that make consistency impossible.
Taha spent three years copying a Mushaf, which is a written copy of the Qur’an. He printed his first copy in 1970 and has since printed over ten copies. The one entrusted to him by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah in 1988 was the most significant. This is the same copy that the King Fahd Complex prints every year and distributes to millions of pilgrims. It is the most widely available copy of the Qur’an in the world. Warsh (used in Morocco and Algeria), Hafs (used internationally), Duri (Africa and Sudan), and Qalun are among the six textual variants Taha has written out (Libya).
Once he told in an interview, he is transported when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy, “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I retreat to isolation to enable myself to be involved in the words and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he remarked. “I hope the poems about Jannah (heaven) would never cease while writing the passages about Jahannam (hell) makes my fingers quiver.”