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Khat calligrapher Muhammad Anis Ab Ghani (right) giving pointers to his son, Muhammad Hazim Wafiy, on khat writing at SK Balik Pulau on Sunday. PIX BY MIKAIL ONG

GEORGE TOWN: IF there is ever a right time to learn the art of khat (Malay-Arabic calligraphy) and jawi, it is at primary school.

Muhammad Anis Ab Ghani, 40, also known among the Malaysian khat fraternity as Abu Hazieq, learnt khat when he studied at SM Ugama Arab Syamsul Maarif in Kelantan.

He went on to study the advanced level of khat at Universiti Malaya.

During his early 20s, he improvised his khat in creative ways.

Using brushes and pens made from resin bar, sticks and bamboos, he also slowly mastered khat by copying the examples of the calligraphy which inspired him.

Some of Muhammad Anis Ab Ghani’s khat artwork.

“I was curious in my school days. I continued exploring it at university and finally, here I am teaching and showcasing my ability in khat.

“Not only does it help with one’s handwriting, it is also a way of expressing our feelings through the arts,” he told the New Straits Times at SK Balik Pulau here yesterday.

When he began working as a teacher here, he was invited to teach khat as a co-curriculum class activity at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in 2012.

At USM, Anis for the first time saw five non-Muslims enrolling for his khat class.

A further shock waited him when he found out that his five non-Muslim students were from China.

“I asked them whether they were lost?

“They said ‘no’, and that they were there at the class to learn khat writing.

“To my surprise, they enjoyed learning it.”

Anis posted in Facebook about his non-Muslim students’ ability to learn khat.

“This was as a rebuttal to claims that it was meant only for Muslims. The post went viral recently.”

He added that the posting was not meant to make it viral, but merely to share his experience.

“Khat is not associated with religion.

“It is an art. That is the message I wanted to put across,” he said.

Anis’s son, Muhammad Hazim Wafiy, 10, has taken up khat effortlessly.

Anis said his son’s ability showed that children could easily pick up and master khat.

Hazim is teaching his schoolmates at SK Balik Pulau during the weekends.

The class, named “Jom Belajar Khat Bersama Hazim”, is available on YouTube after the school proposed it be uploaded to the video-sharing website.

“It boosts my confidence.

“That is why I did not hesitate to conduct the class,” Hazim said, adding that his father would mentor him for the class.

Muhammad Anis Ab Ghani uses brushes and pens that are made from resin bar, sticks and bamboos to write khat.

On Friday, the Education Ministry said the introduction of khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four pupils would be implemented next year as planned.

A few DAP grassroots leaders, including a number of assemblymen, opposed the move.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the move to introduce khat lessons was final and that it would go ahead despite objections.

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