Musaddak Jameel Al-Habeeb (or M. J. Alhabeeb) (born مصدق جميل آل حبيب on July 1, 1954 in southern Iraq) is an Iraqi American contemporary calligrapher who follows the original traditions in Arabic-Islamic calligraphy. He is self-taught, and never studied under any master calligrapher, according to the traditional norm.
Alhabeeb’s interest in the Arabic and Islamic calligraphy started early on when he was a child. Before he attended school at age five, he started to imitate the letters penned by his older brother who was interested in calligraphy too. He received great encouragement and praise from his second grade art teacher, who after discovering the child’s early talent, started to ask him to show other students the right shape of letters on the blackboard. Alhabeeb soon discovered the famous instructional book in calligraphy by Iraq’s prominent calligrapher Hashim Muhammad Al-Baghdadi. He started to repeatedly imitate Al-Baghdadi’s letters and follow his method in perfecting the shapes and movements of many Arabic script. He continued to practice this regular routine for many years. Despite the fact that he chose economics as a field of study, and went to become a full professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he has been practicing calligraphy for more than four decades.
Although he practices classic calligraphy, his own style has been distinguished by a contemporary flare. The most notable aspect of his artistic style is the striking use of color, which has been scarcely used in the classic tradition, as calligraphy work remained dominated by black and white, with occasional use of gold and turquoise. Alhabeeb’s extensive web site which includes a history of the development of Arabic script, has also an artist’s statement, which highlights the major aspects of Alhabeeb’s own style. In this statement, Alhabeeb states: “I tend to describe my work of calligraphy as “neo-classical” for maintaining the methods, manners, and techniques of the classic calligraphers since the 8th century, but I also follow a quasi-modern and personal approach,hdfhjv which could be characterized by:
On his influences, Alhabeeb states: “My strong influences and inspirations were the towering talents of several generations of magnificent calligraphers and their distinct styles. The most important of these influences have been the calligraphers of the contemporary Baghdadi School spearheaded by Hashim Muhammad Al-Khattat Al-Baghdadi, and the earlier Ottoman School, represented by Sheikh Hamadullah Al-Amasi and a bunch of innovative star calligraphers who followed him.
In addition to being a classic calligrapher, Alhabeeb is a contemporary painter. Unlike many of his colleagues; painters who utilize the shape and style of the Arabic letters and words, and calligraphers who borrow some of the painting methods and styles water bottle with silicone sleeve, Alhabeeb does not mix calligraphy with painting. He treats them separately as independent genres, each with its own tradition and style. His calligraphy stays close to the classic Arabic and Islamic old school adult football uniforms, which is free of any painting techniques. On the other hand, His painting has been described as Neo-cubism for borrowing and utilizing many of the cubists’ techniques. He worked as a graphic designer for many years, and won the first prize in three different national contests for designing postal stamps. He has published numerous articles on art theory and philosophy, and recently released a book in Arabic entitled “Art, Creativity, and Freedom”.