“Calligraphy was love at first sight,” Hani, who taught himself calligraphy from books at the age of 15, confessed. “It was first sparked from observing a commercial calligrapher in the camp.”
In the early 90s, he started teaching at AL-JANA, which subsequently provided Hani with a scholarship to master calligraphy first in Lebanon and then in Turkey.
There, Hani met Ghassan Chalabi, the last surviving master of the Ottoman calligraphy school. He later returned to Turkey and stayed there for 10 years, becoming a master in Traditional Turkish Art.
After, the master calligrapher was back at AL-JANA to teach children his art once a week during the Friday Art Club. “It is an innate art form and it needs to be encouraged more,” Hani believes. “It teaches children to be observant, to develop harmony, discipline, precision and patience.”
The overall goals of the workshops were to gain a general knowledge of the traditional art of calligraphy, Islamic geometric design, marketing techniques, bookbinding, and Kufic script so that the children can create art and geometric designs with it. They will also get to learn how to design creatively using calligraphy, geometric designs and Kufic script to write and to design.
From the first exploratory class he held, Hani could tell who had the passion…
To Hani, calligraphy is a higher form of expression and a symbol of Islam, given its devotional nature.
“Calligraphy to me is a way of life, it’s a passion,” Hani underlines. He sleeps with a pen and ink next to his bed, wakes up to write a letter – and goes back to sleep.”
Hani had published seven calligraphy manuals for schools before moving to Turkey. He returned in 2007 and has been teaching at institutes, schools and universities since then. He also sells his original work.