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We are honored to introduce you to Amjed Rifaie, one of the greatest calligraphers in the beautiful country. With his art he will show us the very deep link between this art and the Sufi world.
K: What prompted an Iraqi artist to go to Rome? Was it a choice linked to a particular reason or something you have always thought about doing?
A: Actually it wasn’t my real choice, it was destiny … a “beautiful destiny”
K: In your website bio you talk about the Sufi origins of your family, can you tell us something more? How do you combine Sufism with your art? In your opinion, is there a style that is particularly linked to this mystical dimension?
My surname is “Rifai” is a family known in the Sufi world. In Sufism there are both brotherhoods and schools with slightly different practices; my family in Iraq so far practice dhikr through weekly meetings where they use the daf, a famous musical instrument, and particular prayers as Sufi rituals. As regards calligraphy, there is the Thuluth calligraphic style, particularly linked to Sufism; in general, however, the link with calligraphy arises from the spiritual dimension of each letter of the Arabic alphabet.
Being an art that requires a lot of concentration and inner peace, 2 fundamental requirements also for the Sufi dimension. In fact, still today many Sufi schools scattered all over the world use calligraphy exercises in their daily life because, living them in a sort of spiritual world linked to inner peace, this art, using traditional tools, manages to nourish our soul and body of tranquility. In fact, for almost a year I started doing calligraphy meetings as a spiritual meditation, that is to do meditation through this art. The relationship between quill and ink, the way of staying still, concentrating, repeating the exercises without thinking about anything else, detaching oneself from the world and perhaps repeating a letter a hundred times, requires a lot of patience and this helps to achieve peace and download all the stress through quill and ink.
K: On your site you also show some tattoos you made, how does calligraphy relate to this particular type of bodyart? In your experience, how is it received by Muslims?
A: In reality it is not seen well from an Islamic point of view, also because Islam avoids any form of representation, let alone writing on human bodies, especially female ones. But my experience with body art is completely artistic and has nothing to do with religion and Sufism.Because the artist cannot have limits on his expression, calligraphy is a very artistic form of expression that adds value to the body. human.
Body art, using phrases or poems, especially love, adds physical beauty to these phrases. From this point of view I am also trying to do a new project between body art and calligraphy, but this time linking it to spirituality. I would like to link some sentences of Sufi poets like Rumi, Tabrizi and others to the human body; a sort of challenge to demonstrate how religion does not avoid the beauty of the human body.
K: Besides FAO’s Iraq Room in Rome, which work are you most proud of and why?
A: The most important work is that of FAO in Rome, but I have also had other commissions for embassies and for companies such as Etihad or other works that have not been published, such as the logo of a famous hotel in Morocco.
K: What are your future projects? Is there anything in particular that you dream of achieving?
A: As I have already mentioned I would like to combine the concept of Sufism and universal love with the human body, especially the female one.
We thank Amjed infinitely for the wonderful interview, if you are interested in finding out more, follow him on facebook, Instagram and on his website.
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