Reqah Calligraphy, a history of creativity

Al-Ruq’a script is one of the Arabic scripts. It is distinguished by its ease and speed of writing. It was said that it was named by this name because it was written – in the beginning – on patches of leather, and (riqa’) is the plural of (riq’a), which is the small piece of paper that is suitable for letters and pleasant stories.

Strength and Beauty

In its letters, the Ruq’a script combines strength and beauty at the same time, and is distinguished by its ease of writing and reading and its absence of complexity. Therefore, it is easy to learn in a relatively short time.

Reqah is also distinguished by how quick it can be written due to the shortness of its letters, and its need for formation only when necessary, such as correcting Qur’anic verses, for example; Therefore, it is the usual script in the daily writing of science students, writers, and the general public.

Origins and development

The various collections of scripts constituted a linguistic and artistic preservation of administrative institutions throughout their history in the Arab-Islamic civilization. 

These scripts were able to establish for themselves a distinguished position in an administrative and artistic context that allowed them freedom of expression and creativity. Al-Ruq’ah is the most well-known script in the group of administrative scripts.

The Beginning

The beginning of the emergence of the Ruq’a script – according to some opinions – goes back to the year (886 AH / 1481 AD), and after that it began to develop gradually. 

During the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Majeed Khan, the calligrapher Abu Bakr Mumtaz bin Mustafa Effendi (d. 1280 AH/1863 AD) improved it, set its rules, and engineered its letters similar to the scales of other types of calligraphy. This is to unify the lines in all official transactions that the state receives.

The Arabs were also able to continue the journey of this script, and remove the Ruq’a script from its traditional administrative context. It became an aesthetic font used to write shop signs, magazine and newspaper titles, and book covers, which represents a new birth for this font and gives it an Arabic artistic character.

The oldest example that we have seen shows us that the Ruq’a script was formed from the Diwani script, in the document that talks about the imports attached to the library of Ahmed III in the Topkapi Palace, issued on 10 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1136 AH / 12 December 1723 AD.

Script Improvements

The second boom in the improvement of the Ruq’ah calligraphy occurred at the hands of the teacher of this calligraphy at the Galatasaray Institute, Muhammad Izzat Effendi (d. 1321 AH / 1903 AD); Where he came up with definitive measures for the letters, as he gave them in general the spread, and thus made the patch a line of art. 

Mushaq Muhammad Ezzat in Ruq’a calligraphy is considered one of the original sources for the rules of this line, which he established in his famous pamphlet (Turjuman Uthmaniyyah Scripts), and issued it in print for the first time with his brother, Al-Hafiz Tahsin, in 1292 AH / 1875 CE, and he refined it in a new edition in 1306 AH / 1888 CE, and among these.

The pamphlet spread his style, his style prevailed, and the line of the patch settled clear and independent among the contemporary lines.

New Horizons

The Arabic calligraphy that is written by the public these days is often a mixture of naskh and rq’a. Although what is commonly known about the Ruq’a script is that it is the script of documents and books, many archaeological evidences have proven its use on various tombstones, and in relatively long texts.

The Arab style was creative in making calligraphy booklets (amshaq) to teach the Ruq’a calligraphy because of its importance for students of science at their various stages. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Egyptian calligrapher Abdel Razzaq Awad wrote his famous booklet (Al-Ruq’a in Teaching Al-Ruq’a Calligraphy).

Then the great Egyptian calligrapher Sayyed Ibrahim continued his interest in this calligraphy within his educational group.

The collection of golden chains by the Syrian calligrapher Najib Bey Hawawini had a contribution worth noting. He was concerned with the rules of the Ruq’a script, the shape of the letter, its connection to each other, and the nature of the line in it.

Picture of Caligrapher Mohamed Abou El Magd

Caligrapher Mohamed Abou El Magd

Mohamed is from Egypt, a graduate of Al-Azhar University, Bachelor of Sharia and Law with a Diploma of Arabic Calligraphy and Diploma of Specialization in Gildinga. He is a student of Professor Sherine Abdel HalimHe is the second recipient of the Katara Award for Arabic Calligraphy.