Whoever Obeys Allah, He Will Make For Him a Way Out

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Whoever Obeys Allah, He Will Make For Him a Way Out

Edition: artist's proof
Saudi Arabia, Jeddah, 2012
47 1/4 × 36 1/2 × 5 1/8 in. (120 × 92.71 × 13 cm)
Purchased with funds by an anonymous donor (M.2015.99)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

In the Islamic world calligraphy has always been regarded as the noblest form of art because of its association with the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book. Trained as both a calligrapher and an architect, Nasser Al Salem has developed a unique approach to writing. He focuses on the words and their meaning, medium, and aesthetic, resulting in multivalent, highly nuanced, and engaging works. In this three-dimensional calligraphy, rendered in "square Kufic" script, he cleverly transforms the namesake Qur’anic verse "Whoever obeys Allah, he will make for him a way out" into a maze; remarkably, his calligraphic composition not only renders the words of the verse but visually re-creates its meaning. Al Salem has exhibited with the arts initiative Edge of Arabia in Istanbul and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His work was included in the British Museum’s exhibition Hajj (2012), and he was short-listed for the 2013 Jameel Prize. While his work is strongly influenced by Islamic faith and tradition, he often employs nontraditional mediums such as neon, video, and even sand for his calligraphy, in addition to the more customary ink on paper. He is one of the most innovative calligraphers of his generation.


  • Komaroff, Linda. "Islamic Art Now and Then." In Islamic Art: Past, Present, Future, edited by Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, 26-56. New Haven, New York, and London: Yale University Press, 2019.