70 Year Old Retired Afghan Colonel Takes on Calligraphy

Calligraphy by Retired Col. Abdul Alim

KABUL – Talent and education are not dependent on age – this is the message of 70-year-old retired colonel, Abdul Alim who recently learned the art of calligraphy.

Retired Col. Abdul Alim said he had worked as an armed forces officer for forty years. He has served Afghanistan in Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman and many other provinces as first deputy of national security department.

“I have always worked with pen, that is why my friends have always encouraged me that I have a nice handwriting, a move caused me to professionally and technically start learning calligraphy,” he said. 

Alim enrolled in Maimanagi Gallery and learned calligraphy in two years. 

Retired Col. Abdul Alim

He said nothing is easy if efforts are not made. Since receiving his calligraphy certificate, Alim has decided to teach calligraphy to his sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. He said he is willing to teach people the important art of calligraphy writing. Calligraphy is a central part of how Afghan history has been recorded for centuries. It is an invaluable skill that must live on.  

Alim’s teacher Ustad Ghulam Haidar Sahab said, “Col. Abdul Alim was one of my talented students and has been my student for two years.”

About his works, Alim said, “I had arranged a work for the last exhibition [in the Maimanagi Gallary] and I would arrange many of my works in near future. I want to first decorate my home through my calligraphy works and then I would gift some of my works to my friends and relatives. I also want to gift my works to some government organs and schools.”

Alim’s art ranges in three types of Islamic calligraphy. While “Islamic calligraphy” is referred to as a single discipline, there are several different script styles that calligraphers use depending on what they are writing and where they are writing it. 

Afghanistan’s Minaret of Jam – A UNESCO Heritage Site

Islamic calligraphy is not limited to inscribing the Holy Quran onto parchment. In Afghanistan, it is written on ceramics, tile, stone, glass, textiles, carpets, and wood. Through out Afghan history, calligraphy existed on almost every precious object. But perhaps the most striking place to view calligraphy is in Afghan architecture. One of the oldest monuments of Afghanistan is the Minerat of Jam in Ghor Province dating back to the 12th century.

The Minaret is completely covered with geometric decoration in enhanced with a Kufic style of calligraphy in turquoise tiles. The calligraphy is of verses from the Holy Quran.

Alim asks children, youth, teenagers and older people to never give up and learn any type art they like and teach it to others.  Adding Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) saying, Alim said smiling, “Learn education from cradle to grave,’ a nice saying that encouraged me to learn calligraphy in age 70.”



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