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In addition to working on paper, calligraphers have provided blueprints for works in mosaic, ceramics, and other media. Following this tradition, the Islamic Center of Manteca, calligrapher Zubair Simab and mosaic artist Pippa Murray created a calligraphed architectural mosaic installation for the Center’s new building in San Joaquin County.  The artists drew inspiration from the diverse traditions and cultures that make up the Center’s congregation and community.

Zubair Simab was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. He began training in calligraphy as a young boy and again picked up the serious study of Islamic calligraphy in 1997. He has been greatly influenced by the Afghan Master Calligrapher Ustad Khatat Haft Qalaam (The Calligrapher of Seven Styles), Aziz Ul-Deen Wakile, and the Ozchai brothers from Turkey.

Pippa Murray studied her craft formally in Europe and California and is a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists. The medium and scope of this project–composed of 4,000 tiles–was unprecedented for both artists.

The Islamic Center of Manteca is a mosque and community center that opened June 7, 2013. While Muslims have had a presence in California’s Central Valley for at least 100 years, the Islamic Center is the first purpose-built mosque in the San Joaquin Valley. Manteca’s Muslim community consists of Afghans, Fijians, Palestinians, Yemenis, Pakistanis, Indians, African Americans, West and Southern Africans, Latinos, and European Americans.

Photo credit: Frances Phillips