Calligraphic Design: Olympic Allah


My project is a depiction of the name Allah as derived and extruded from the Olympic Rings.  The inspiration for my calligraphy project was based on our discussions of the plurality of Islam, from the diversity of views and practices of Muslims around the globe to the universality of appreciating and reciting the messages of the Qur’an.  As I considered the notion that Islam is a religion that champions the idea of there being only one God, but a God who is responsible for and accessible to everyone, I wanted to depict the Arabic name for God, Allah, in a fashion that linked the name to unity and inclusiveness.

While watching athletes from around the world duke it out on the ice and snow in recent weeks, it dawned on me that the Olympics are similarly representative of ideas of universality and inclusion.  The purpose of the Olympic Games is to foster a sense of community among the various peoples of the world, uniting us through athletics despite our differences in culture, language, and ideology.  After a little research, I learned that the symbol of the Olympic Games – the Olympic Rings –has a meaning relevant to that purpose of community: the shape of the ring represents “continuity and the human being” and the six colors of the symbol (blue, yellow, black, green, red, and white) “represent the colors of all the nations, with no exception” (at least in 1912 when the symbol was designed).[1]

Because the Olympic Rings and the name Allah both invoke ideas of diversity, universality, and inclusion, I decided to design an image that combined the two.  Specifically, I chose to show that Allah, and more broadly, Muslim culture, derives from (or, graphically, can be extruded from) the same principles of openness and community that define the Olympic Games.

[1] Barney, Robert Knight, “This Great Symbol,” Olympic Revue 301 (November 1992), 629.

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