The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

The Art of the Qur’an: Past Events

(All events concluded)

Symposium: The Word Illuminated: Form and Function of Qur’anic Manuscripts

Thursday–Saturday, December 1–3, 2016
Turkish Embassy and Ripley Center Lecture Hall
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Symposium Details

Costly paper, finely tooled bindings, special scripts, and intricate illumination are among the characteristics that distinguish the manuscripts in The Art of the Qur’an. In this symposium, investigate the materiality of luxury copies of the Qur’an made between the eighth and the seventeenth century from Herat to Istanbul. Also learn about the complex and layered significance these Qur’ans acquired as they changed ownership. Speakers examine the volumes in their historical, cultural, and artistic contexts and discuss their use as potent symbols of piety and political and religious authority. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and is made possible in part through the support of the El-Hibri Foundation.

Conversation: Master Calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya with Aisha Imam

Saturday, October 22, 2016
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How does one become a master calligrapher today? Join Mohamed Zakariya, one of the world’s foremost calligraphers, and student calligrapher Aisha Imam as they discuss their professional paths and training. Born in the United States, Zakariya earned diplomas from the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art, and Culture in Istanbul. His work has been collected and displayed worldwide and featured in documentaries. He also designed Eid holiday stamps for the US Postal Service. Imam has a background in international health and development, using arts as a means of awareness. Her deep appreciation of traditional Islamic art has been fostered by a diverse set of teachers of classical Islam, as well as by her travels abroad.

Demonstration: Live Calligraphy by Elinor Aishah Holland

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Watch Elinor Aishah Holland as she demonstrates the basics of Arabic calligraphy. Holland introduces tools and materials used in calligraphy, as well as basic techniques. Holland’s passion for calligraphy was sparked by a visit to Istanbul as a teenager. She has studied with the master calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya for many years and received her diploma in 2013. Holland teaches, presents, and exhibits throughout the United States and Canada.

From the Hijaz to Istanbul: Musical Performance by Roshni Samlal and Kane Mathis

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Take a melodious journey from the heartland of Arabia to Istanbul with musicians Roshni Samlal and Kane Mathis. Tracing the journey of the Qur’anic text, Samlal and Mathis introduce musical instruments and traditions from across the Islamic world. Mathis holds a diploma from the Tiramang Traditional Music School in Gambia. He also studied at Istanbul Technical University Conservatory as an apprentice to oud virtuoso Münir Beken. Samlal is a tabla player who hails from the West Indies. Her vocalist father, Mukund Samlal, initiated her into the tradition of Indian classical music.

Gallery Talk: The Art of the Qur’an

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Join exhibition curator Massumeh Farhad as she looks at the religious, historical, and artistic importance of the exceptional manuscripts preserved by powerful sultans, queens, and viziers. In The Art of the Qur’an, she discusses how calligraphers and illuminators transformed a series of orally transmitted revelations into the Qur’an’s fixed text, which has remained unchanged over the centuries.

Workshop: Calligraphy and Book Arts in the Islamic Tradition

Session A: Thursdays, October 27, November 3, 10, and 17, 2016
Session B: Saturdays, October 29, November 5, 12, 19, 2016

In this four-week course, learn techniques used to create the spectacular works in The Art of the Qur’an. Examine historic Qur’an manuscripts in the galleries, and then delve into bookmaking materials and techniques with accomplished calligrapher Khalid Casado and artist Josh Berer. During the four sessions, participants gain a deeper understanding of Arabic calligraphy and the fascinating history of book arts by practicing basic calligraphy, paper dyeing and marbling, illumination, and simple bookbinding. For adults and students ages 16 and up.

Gallery Talk: Art of the Qur’an

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Join exhibition curator Simon Rettig as he explores the production of sumptuous Qur’an manuscripts whose origins span a millennium and from Egypt to Afghanistan. In The Art of the Qur’an, Rettig also presents the staggering journeys these copies experienced from the time of their creation to their final destination in Istanbul.

People of the Book: Stories of the Prophets

Sunday, November 20, 2016
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Can understanding the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an increase empathy and connections among cultures that are often at odds? Join a conversation with local faith leaders on the similarities and differences among prophetic traditions in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The stories of Noah, Abraham, Jonah, Mary, and others play a key role in all three religions. Their stories are told differently, and the lessons for the faithful are not always the same, yet all three faiths see themselves as following the tradition of Abraham. In this interfaith dialogue, an imam, a minister, and a rabbi share the teachings they take from these ancient tales.
Panel members include Imam Talib Shareef, Rabbi Jack Moline, and Reverend Donald Isaac.
Made possible in part through the support of the El-Hibri Foundation.

Conversation: Islamic In Washington: Then and Now

Sunday, February 19
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Did you know that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, owned a translation of the Qur’an? That the first Muslims in the DC area arrived as enslaved Africans in the early 1700s? Or that Washington’s first mosque, the Masjid Muhammad, played an important part in the civil rights movement? Join us for a conversation about the fascinating history of Muslim communities in Washington, DC, in connection with the exhibition The Art of the Qur’an.

Panelists include:
James H. Johnston, an attorney and journalist, has published extensively on Washington, DC, history. His works include the book From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family.

Amir Muhammad is director and curator of America’s Islamic Heritage Museum, located on Martin Luther King Junior Avenue in DC’s Anacostia neighborhood. His numerous publications include Muslims in America: Seven Centuries of History (1312–1998).

Asma Naeem is an associate curator of prints, drawings, and media arts at the National Portrait Gallery. A specialist in American and contemporary Islamic art, she is particularly interested in the effects of displacement, the history of technology, and the sensorial imagination of both artist and beholder.

Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle over Islam is Reshaping the World.

Kids & Families

Open Studio: Dazzling Designs of the Qur’an
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Saturday, January 14, 2017

Discover The Art of the Qur’an with free family activities. In this Open Studio, we explore illuminated designs in manuscripts of the Qur’an. Take a family-friendly tour (12:30 and 2:30 pm) of the exhibition, and then head to the ImaginAsia classroom to get creative. Tea and refreshments provided. All ages welcome with adult companions.

Family Workshop: The Art of Illumination in the Qur’an
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Sunday, January 8, 2017

Visit the exhibition The Art of the Qur’an with teaching artist Lubna Zahid and learn about the beautiful patterns in the Qur’an. Then, return to the classroom to collaborate with family and friends on illuminating a bookmark inspired by the exhibition. This program is designed for children ages 6–12 and adults to enjoy together.