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Hasyim Mohamad al-Baghdadi (1917-1973)

Abū Rāqım Hāshim b. Muhammad b. Hājj Dirbās al-Qaysī al-Baghdādī was born in 1335/1917 in the Khān Lawand Quarter in Baghdad. From early childhood, he was strongly attracted to calligraphy, studying briefly under Mullā 'Ārif al-Shaykhlī and then under 'Ali Sābir. Eventually he began practicing calligraphy under the supervision and guidance of Shaykh Mullā ‘Alī al-Fadlī, who gave him an ijāzet (“certificate” of calligraphy) in 1363/1943. In 1364/1944, Hāshim went to Egypt, where he was admitted into the Calligraphy Institute in Cairo. The instructors and administrators there were highly impressed with his work and allowed him to sit immediately for the final examination of the senior class; he obtained first-class honors. He was given a second ijāzet by the well-known Egyptian calligrapher Sayyid Ibrāhīm (1315/1897 - 1414/1994), and another by the calligrapher Muhammad Husnī in 1364/1944. The Institute's administrators asked him to stay in Egypt and teach, but he returned to Baghdad and opened a calligrapher's shop in 1365/1946. He later went to İstanbul, where he became acquainted with the Turkish calligraphers, especially Hāmid Aytaç, who gave him two certificates of appreciation in lieu of an ijāzet, one in 1370/1950 and another in 1372/1952. For four years, as of 1375/1955, he studied with Mācid Ayral who had come from Baghdad to İstanbul and greatly benefited from working with him.

Hāshim served as a calligrapher in the Surveyors' Department in Baghdad from 1380/1960 until he was transferred to the Ministry of Education, where he was appointed head of the Department of Decoration and Calligraphy in the Institute of Fine Arts.

Hāshim was deeply influenced by the Turkish calligraphers. He greatly admired the work of Hāfız Osman; Mehmed Şevki; Hacı Ahmed Kāmil Akdik; and Hāmid Aytaç. His admiration for Mustafa Rākım was so great that he named his son after him and began calling himself Abū Rāqım, or Rāqım's father. In İstanbul, he used to visit Necmeddin Okyay, who owned a distinguished collection of calligraphic works.

In the hope of popularizing this art, Hāshim issued a collection of calligraphic pieces in riq‘ah and another in a variety of scripts. He also supervised the publication of Mušhaf al-Awqāf, which was published for the first time by the Surveyors' Department. This is a splendid muşhaf calligraphed in 1236/1821 by the Turkish calligrapher Mehmed Emin er-Rüşdī (thirteenth/nineteenth century). The muşhaf was presented by Pertevniyal, mother of Sultan Abdülaziz, to the Mosque of the Great Imām al-Nu'mān b. Thābīt, known as Abū Hanīfah. Hāshim illuminated the beginning of the Mushaf anew, numbered its verses, wrote the titles of the sūrahs, and the numbers of the hizbs, juz’es, and sajdahs in a manner acceptable to Arab taste.

In addition to kıt'as, hilyes, and levhas, Hāshim calligraphed decorative friezes in mosques and other buildings in Baghdad and other cities; these were done on faience or marble, mostly in jalī thuluth. The rarest of his works are in kūfī script, as in the ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī Mosque and the Hājj Mahmūd Mosque. Hāshim al-Baghdādī died on 27 Rabī‘I 1393/30 April 1973 in Baghdad and was buried in the Khayzuran Cemetery.

Source: Waleed al-'A'zamī, Tarajimu khattati Baghdad el-Muasirin, Beirut 1977, p.254-75. http://ircica.org

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