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sheikh nassib makarem

My father-in-law, Sheikh Nassib Makarem, was one of the few Calligraphers who excelled in all forms of Arabic calligraphy. He was born on September 14, 1889 in Aytat, Mount Lebanon, Lebanon.

Sheikh Nassib Makarem was one of the greatest calligraphers in the Arab, as well as the Islamic World. He was the royal calligrapher for several world kings and emirs and the official calligrapher of the Lebanese Republic. He was awarded 22 of the highest medals given to a citizen from Arabic and European countries. He belonged to several prestigious world organizations, such as The International Scientific Organization, Victor Hugo Academy, The Latin Academy, The French National Renaissance Association, and many others. His work can be found in museums and galleries around the world.

Sheikh Nassib Makarem came from a large family consisting of 7 brothers and 2 sisters. His father, Saiid, died when Sheikh Nassib was only 14 years of age, so, he accepted full responsibility of taking care of the family at that age.

Fortunately, the young Sheikh had learned the carpentry profession from his father. After his father’s death, Sheikh Nassib entered his father’s business and became a professional carpenter.

At the same time, he always admired his mother’s beautiful and elegant calligraphy. He was so impressed with her. She had earned a high school diploma from the English Missionary High School in Shimlan, Mount Lebanon in 1886, at a time when getting an education was a rare accomplishment, especially for women. He was inspired by her accomplishments and took it upon himself to learn calligraphy from her.

Sheikh Nassib started training himself in the art of calligraphy during his spare time. His mother encouraged him and supported him. The young Sheikh gathered a sizable collection of calligraphy from some of the most famous calligraphers of Arab, Persian and Turk calligraphers. From them, he learned the various rules and conventions of calligraphy.

He would train for 10 hours straight, and then he would take a short break just to immerse his hand in a bucket of cold water to relieve the tension so that he could resume his work.

On a grain of rice, he was able to write 61 words. That grain of rice was exhibited at an art fair in Zahle, Lebanon in 1909. He won first prize. Sheikh Nassib was still not satisfied by his accomplishment. He wanted to make sure that no one would ever be able to challenge him for the next 500 years.

Sheikh Nassib’s fame was acquired after his art and calligraphy had reached beyond man’s imagination. He wrote and drew on 22 grains of rice and wheat. His greatest accomplishment was that he wrote a 30 verse poem comprised of 287 words on one side of a grain of rice made of silver.

As a renowned calligrapher, Sheikh Nassib taught calligraphy at several schools and universities for 45 years. He was also appointed as a professional expert in detecting fraudulent governmental documents by the Lebanese government and other Arab governments.

Sheikh Nassib Makarem spent 70 years of his life expressing beauty through his calligraphy until his death in 1971. He bequeathed a bounteous treasure trove of beautiful art to the world of calligraphy.