President of the National Calligraphy Association of Malaysia Dr Abdul Rahman bin Haji Hamzah said it is no surprise to see Indonesian participants competing in the ASEAN Level Khat Competition 2022 as Indonesia has a lot of talents in the field, given the number of education institutions specifically geared towards Islamic calligraphy (khat).
Speaking as one of the competition judges, Dr Abdul Rahman shared that the schools train students to be familiar not only with the methodology of writing and techniques of calligraphy but also to participate in calligraphy competitions.
Also, Indonesia has many Islamic calligraphy competitions with substantial prizes offered, and the schools make it compulsory for students to compete to give them exposure, making them more advanced in the field than other countries.
“They compete with each other and give each other good feedback, which motivates each of them further.
“They look into the details of their work together because in calligraphy you cannot spot all the mistakes alone but working in group helps in making the work presentable.”
In Brunei, the Centre of Islamic Calligraphy and Arts Studies of the Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (PPKKI-YSHHB) is a learning centre offering programme and provide services expanding knowledge, efficiency and Islamic arts skills towards dignifying Jawi writing particularly the art of Islamic calligraphy.
Located at the Rumah Semaun in Jalan Jerambak, the centre also features a gallery that is open for public viewing.
Meanwhile, Indonesian participant Miftahul Huda was initially thinking of passing on the competition due to the short notice.
However, friends participating in the competition persuaded him to give it a go and led to them spending five sleepless nights completing their work.
He said he was happy and grateful that his last-minute decision placed him in the second spot.
Miftahul said his interest in Islamic calligraphy started in his childhood years and he started to take it seriously in 2012 after being introduced to one of his teachers from Turkiye.
He added that he is still learning under the guidance of several other calligraphy mentors.
It was his third time being in the top three for Islamic calligraphy competitions, with his first being in a competition in Central Java province where he took the top spot in 2012 and in the same year taking second place at a competition in Sabah, Malaysia.
He said his high placement here was unexpected as fellow participants were very competitive.
He also hopes Islamic calligraphy will continue to be part of his life and is aware that his capabilities create large expectations, hence the win was not only for him but also for his friends back home.
Despite only being able to take the consolation prize, local participant Mohammad Nazir bin Haji Othman said it was still proof that locals can succeed, adding that it was a challenging event competing with international participants who were more experienced.
Mohammad Nazir has been involved in Islamic calligraphy since he completed his studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
For the past 10 years he has put his focus on Islamic calligraphy.
He saw the competition as not the end but a beginning for him and he believes that local artists have the potential to improve the quality of their work.