9th International Calligraphy Competition in the name of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu

The idea of the International Calligraphy Competition was first mentioned in the “Istanbul Declaration on Islamic Arts” issued by the International Symposium on the “Common Principles, Forms and Themes of Islamic Arts” which was organised by the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in April 1983. The masters and lovers of calligraphy attending the symposium considered various aspects of this art and emphasized the role played by calligraphy in unifying different branches of Islamic arts. They also recognized the necessity and usefulness of organising a calligraphy competition.


The purpose of this international competition is to revive and encourage the development of “Classical Islamic Calligraphy”. Thus, it aims to encourage artists of Islamic calligraphy to produce works within the framework of the traditional spirit and rules and to protect it from trends which emerged outside of the principles of “Classical Islamic Calligraphy”.

This attempt will provide a common ground to all Muslim calligraphers to exchange their knowledge and approaches, and enable the development of a mutually appreciated artistic taste by Muslims all over the world.

In the spirit to encourage young artists to emulate the examples of the great masters of calligraphy and, at the same time, to commemorate their achievements, the Centre organised the first international competition (1986) in the name of Hamid al-Amidi (1891-1982), the second (1989) in the name of Yaqut al-Mustasimi (?-698/1298), the third (1992) in the name of Ibn al-Bawwab (?-413/1022) on the occasion of the millenium of his death, the fourth (1997) in the name of Sheikh Hamdullah (833-926/1429-1520), the fifth (2000) in the name of Sayyid Ibrahim (1897-1994), the sixth (2003) in the name of Mir Imad al-Hasani (961-1024/1554-1615) on the 400th year Hij’ra of his death, the seventh (2006) in the name of the Iraqi calligrapher Hashim Muhammad al-Baghdadi (1335-1393/1917-1973) and the eighth in the name of the Syrian calligrapher Muhammed Badawi al-Dirani (1312-1387/1894-1967).

We are honoured to dedicate the ninth calligraphy competition to an eminent scholar who made outstanding contributions towards reviving and promoting the art of calligraphy: Prof. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. 


Founder Director General (1980 – Dec. 2004) of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) in Istanbul, and current Secretary General (Jan. 2005 - ) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In acknowledgment of his varied activities and sustained patronage of the art of calligraphy, since 1980, he is credited with the revival of this art and the stimulation of artistic and official interest in it, not only at the level of the Islamic world but also at global level.

Organized the first international calligraphy competition in 1986, a competition which is currently witnessing preparations for its ninth edition, in appreciation of his merits and gracious support.

Organized multiple exhibitions of major contemporary calligraphers and had them staged in different parts of the world. He also mentored the new generation of calligraphers from different countries, organized training courses for them, revived the tradition of Ijaza “Certification” awarding and staged the first official international Ijaza awarding ceremony for the American calligrapher Mohamed Zakaria, in 1988.

Oversaw the preparation of a reference book on the art of calligraphy and had it published in English, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese and Malay. He also published masterpieces of calligraphy, as well as calligraphy exercise books (mashqs) crafted by leading calligraphers.

Supervised the production of two documentary films on the most prominent calligrapher in the 20th century, namely Hamid al-Amadi (Aytaç), and two among the leading artists in gilding and ornamentation, namely Prof. Tahsin Demironat and Mrs. Rikkat Kunt. 

Served as a faculty member in a number of science faculties, and later became first professor and founder chairman of the Department of History of Science in the Istanbul University. He is also the founder chairman of both the Turkish Society of History of Science and the Foundation for Research on Islamic History, Art and Culture (İSAR). In addition, he served as chairman of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS) from 2001 to 2005, and is currently a member of a wide range of international associations, scientific councils and advisory boards of academic institutions, centres, institutes and editorial boards of many magazines in both Islamic and Western countries. Among his publications are a number of books, essays and researches in English, Turkish and Arabic on science and the history of sciences, Islamic culture, Turkish culture, relations between Islam and the West, and Turkish-Arab relations. Many of these works have been translated into other oriental and western languages. He has been the recipient of many medals and decorations from Kings and Heads of State and was awarded honorary doctorates from a number of universities in different parts of the world.

His interest in the art of calligraphy started in his early childhood, at his parental home, his father being endowed with a good handwriting and a pronounced love for calligraphy which he practiced indeed; so much so that he was fond of copying rare books, which he wanted to have among his literary possessions. Thus from his early childhood Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu was surrounded by many ornate calligraphic paintings hanging on the walls of his home, one of which was the splendid work of the late Hamid al-Amidi, a fragment from a poem by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I drawn in imitation of the writing of Mehmed Esad el-Yesarî. Thus he had gained an early interest in calligraphy and sound acquaintance with its state in the Muslim world.


Announcement of the Competition: 1 March 2012

Deadline for registration: 31 October    2012

Deadline for submitting the entries: 28 February 2013

Jury meeting: April 2013

Announcement of the Competition results: May 2013