|Languages||Arabic, Persian, Baloch, Urdu, Kurdish, Pashto, Sindhi, Malay and others.|
|Time period||400 CE to the present|
→ Nabataean or Syriac
→ Arabic abjad
|Unicode range||U+0600 to U+06FF|
U+0750 to U+077F
U+FB50 to U+FDFF
U+FE70 to U+FEFF
|ISO 15924||Arab (#160)|
|Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.|
|ﺍ ﺍ ﺏ ﺕ ﺙ ﺝ|
|ﺡ ﺥ ﺩ ﺫ ﺭ ﺭ|
|? ﺵ ﺹ ﺽ ﻁ ﻅ|
|ﻉ ﻍ ﻑ ﻕ ﻙ|
|ﻝ ﻡ ﻥ ه ﻭ|
|History · Transliteration |
Diacritics · Hamza ﻱ
Numerals · Numeration
|History of the alphabet|
Middle Bronze Age 18–15th c. BC|
|Meroitic 3rd c. BC|
The alphabet was first used to write texts in Arabic -- most importantly, the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used to write many other languages, even outside of the Semitic family to which Arabic belongs. Examples of non-Semitic languages written with the Arabic alphabet include Persian, Urdu, Malay, Azerbaijani (in Iran) and Kurdish in Iraq and Iran. In order to accommodate the needs of these other languages, new letters and other symbols were added to the original alphabet. (See Arabic alphabets of other languages below.)
Just as different handwriting styles and typefaces exist in the Roman alphabet, the Arabic alphabet exists in different styles such as Nasta'līq, Thuluth, Kufic and others (see Arabic calligraphy). These styles can vary widely.
Structure of the Arabic alphabetArabic is written from right to left; its alphabet is composed of 28 basic letters. Adaptations of the script for other languages than Arabic have additional letters (for example, see Malay-Arabic script). There are not distinct upper and lower case letter forms. Both printed and written Arabic are cursive; i.e., most of the letters connect directly to the letter which immediately follows. Some letters are non-connecting; they do not connect to the following letter, even in the middle of a word. Each individual letter can have up to four distinct forms, based upon where the letter appears in a word or group of letters. These forms are initial, medial, final, and isolated:
- Initial: beginning of a word; or in the middle of a word, following a non-connecting letter
- Medial: between two connecting letters (non-connecting letters lack a medial form)
- Final: at the end of a word following a connecting letter
- Isolated: at the end of a word following a non-connecting letter; or used independently
In many cases, letters are distinguished from other letters with similar shapes by dots placed above or below the central part of the letter. These are not like accent marks--rather, the dots distinguish completely different letters (and sounds). For example, the Arabic letters "b" and "t" have the same basic shape, but "b" has one dot below, and "t" has two dots above.
The Arabic alphabet is an "impure" abjad—short vowels are not written, though long ones are—so the reader must know the language in order to restore the vowels. However, in editions of the Qur'an or in didactic works vocalization marks are used – including a sign for vowel omission (sukūn) and one for gemination/doubling/lengthening of consonants (šadda).
The names of Arabic letters can be thought of as abstractions of an older version where the names of the letters signified meaningful words in the Proto-Semitic language.
There are two orders for the Arabic alphabet. The original Abjadī أبجدي order derives from the order of Phoenician alphabet, and is therefore similar to the order of other Phoenician-derived alphabets, such as the Latin alphabet. The standard order used today, and shown in the table, is the Hejā'ī هجائي order, where similarly-shaped letters are grouped together.
- See also: Abjad numerals
The most common Abjad sequence is (from left to right):
This is commonly vocalized as follows:
أ ب ج د ﻫ و ز ح ط ي ك ل م ن س ع ف ص ق ر ش ت ث خ ذ ض ظ غ ʼ b ǧ d h w z ḥ ṭ y k l m n s ʻ f ṣ q r š t ṯ ḫ ḏ ḍ ẓ ġ
- ʼabǧad hawwaz ḥuṭṭī kalaman saʻfaṣ qarašat ṯaḫaḏ ḍaẓaġ
- ʼabuǧadin hawazin ḥuṭiya kalman saʻfaṣ qurišat ṯaḫuḏ ḍaẓuġ
Another Abjad sequence, mainly confined to the Maghreb, is:
ﺃ ﺏ ﺝ ﺩ ﻫ ﻭ ﺯ ﺡ ﻁ ﻱ ﻙ ﻝ ﻡ ﻥ ﺹ ﻉ ﻑ ﺽ ﻕ ﺭ ﺱ ﺕ ﺙ ﺥ ﺫ ﻅ ﻍ ﺵ ʼ b ǧ d h w z ḥ ṭ y k l m n ṣ ʻ f ḍ q r s t ṯ ḫ ḏ ẓ ġ š
which can be vocalized as:
- ʼabuǧadin hawazin ḥuṭiya kalman ṣaʻfaḍ qurisat ṯaḫuḏ ẓaġuš
Despite no longer being used as the standard order of the alphabet, the Abjadi order is still used in things such as lists and outlines where a ordinal system of designating points of information or questions other than numbers is required. In other words, whereas a list in English might call its first point "A" its next point "B", its next point "C", then "D", then "E" and so on down to "Z", even today a list in Arabic would typically call its first point "أ", then "ب", then "ج", "د", "ﻫ" and so on down to "ﻍ", rather than "أ", "ب", "ت", "ث", "ج", and so on down to "ي", as the modern order might suggest. The order is, also, still used in Modern Arabic mathematical notation when allocating variable names. For example when a the letters أ (alif) ب (ba') have been already used for variable names, conventionally, the next letter to be used would be ج (ġim)
Presentation of the alphabet
The following table provides all of the Unicode characters for Arabic, and none of the supplementary letters used for other languages. The transliteration given is the widespread DIN 31635 standard, with some common alternatives. See the article Romanization of Arabic for details and various other transliteration schemes.
Regarding pronunciation, the phonetic values given are those of the "standard" pronunciation of the fusha language as taught in universities. Actual pronunciation between the varieties of Arabic may vary widely. For more details concerning the pronunciation of Arabic, consult the article Arabic phonology.
Primary lettersThe Arabic script is cursive, and all primary letters have conditional forms for their glyphs, depending on whether they are at the beginning, middle or end of a word, so they may exhibit four distinct forms (initial, medial, final or isolated). However, six letters have only isolated or final form, and so force the following letter (if any) to take an initial or isolated form, as if there were a word break.
For compatibility with previous standards, Unicode can encode all these forms separately; however, these forms can be inferred from their joining context, using the same encoding. The table below shows this common encoding, in addition to the compatibility encodings for their normally contextual forms (Arabic texts should be encoded today using only the common encoding, but the rendering must then infer the joining types to determine the correct glyph forms, with or without ligation). There are 29 primary letters.
Contextual forms Name Translit. Phonemic Value (IPA) Isolated Final Medial Initial 0627
? ʼalif ʾ / ā various, including /aː/ 0628
bāʼ b /b/ 062A
tāʼ t /t/ 062B
ṯāʼ ṯ /θ/ 062C
ǧīm ǧ (also j, g) [ʤ] / [ʒ] / [ɡ] 062D
ḥāʼ ḥ /ħ/ 062E
ḫāʼ ḫ (also kh, x) /x/ 062F
? dāl d /d/ 0630
? ḏāl ḏ (also dh, ğ) /ğ/ 0631
? rāʼ r /r/ 0632
? zāī z /z/ 0633
sīn s /s/ 0634
šīn š (also sh) /ʃ/ 0635
ṣād ṣ /sˁ/ 0636
ḍād ḍ /dˁ/ 0637
ṭāʼ ṭ /tˁ/ 0638
ẓāʼ ẓ /ğˁ/ / /zˁ/ 0639
ʿayn ʿ /ʕ/ 063A
ġayn ġ (also gh) /ɣ/ 0641
fāʼ f /f/ 0642
qāf q /q/ 0643
kāf k /k/ 0644
lām l /l/, ([lˁ] in Allah only) 0645
mīm m /m/ 0646
nūn n /n/ 0647
hāʼ h /h/ 0648
? wāw w / ū /w/ / /uː/ 064A
yāʼ y / ī /j/ / /iː/
Letters lacking an initial or medial version are never tied to the following letter, even within a word. As to ﺀ hamza, it has only a single graphic, since it is never tied to a preceding or following letter. However, it is sometimes 'seated' on a waw, ya or alif, and in that case the seat behaves like an ordinary waw, ya or alif.
Modified lettersThe following are not actual letters, but rather different orthographical shapes for letters.
Conditional forms Name Translit. Phonemic Value (IPA) Isolated Final Medial Initial 0622
? ʼalif madda ʼā /ʔaː/ 0629
? tāʼ marbūṭa h or t / h / ẗ /a/, /at/ 0649
? ʼalif maqṣūra ("broken alif") (Arabic)
(see note below)
ā / ỳ /a/ 06CC
yeh (Persian, Urdu)
(see note below)
ī / ỳ /iː/
Although this is the common situation, the problem is not so simple, and no solution is met yet at the time of September, 2007.
LigaturesThe only compulsory ligature is lām + ʼalif. All other ligatures (yāʼ+mīm, etc.) are optional.
- (isolated) lām + ʼalif (lā /laː/) :
- : ﻻ
- (final) lām + ʼalif (lā /laː/) :
- : ﻼ
Unicode has a special glyph for the ligature allāh (“God”). U+FDF2 ARABIC LIGATURE ALLAH ISOLATED FORM:
- : ﷲ
The latter is a work-around for the shortcomings of most text processors, which are incapable of displaying the correct vowel marks for the word Allāh, because it should compose a small ʼalif sign above a gemination šadda sign. Compare the display of the composed equivalents below (the exact outcome will depend on your browser and font configuration):
- lām, (geminated) lām (with implied short-a vowel), (vowel reversed) hāʼ :
- : لله
- ʼalif, lām, (geminated) lām (with implied short-a vowel), (vowel reversed) hāʼ :
- : الله
The Arabic alphabet now uses the hamza to indicate a glottal stop, which can appear anywhere in a word. This letter, however, does not function like the others: it can be written alone or on a support in which case it becomes a diacritic:
- alone: ء ;
- with a carrier: إ, أ (above and under a ʼalif), ؤ (above a wāw), ئ (above a dotless yāʼ or yāʼ hamza).
The w-shaped šadda glyph above the second consonant that it geminates, is in fact the beginning of a small šīn letter.
Name is Translit. Phonetic Value (IPA) 0651
šadda (consonant doubled) [◌◌] (name is pronounced [ʃːdda])
Sukūn and ʼalif aboveAn Arabic syllable can be open (ended by a vowel) or closed (ended by a consonant).
- open: CV[consonant-vowel] (long or short vowel)
- closed: CVC (short vowel only)
Sukūn allows us to know where not to place a vowel: qlb could, in effect, be read qalab (meaning "he turned around"), but written with a sukūn over the l and the b, it can only be interpreted as the form /qVlb/; we write this قلْْب. This is one stage from full vocalization, where the a vowel would also be indicated by a fatḥa: قَلْْب,
The Qur’an is traditionally written in full vocalization. Outside of the Qur’an, putting a sukūn above a yāʼ which indicates [i:], or above a wāw which stands for [u:] is extremely rare, to the point that yāʼ with sukūn will be unambiguously read as the diphthong [ai], and wāw with sukūn will be read [au].
The letters m-w-s-y-q-ā (موسيقى with an ʼalif maqṣūra at the end of the word) will be read most naturally as the word mūsīqā (“music”). If you were to write sukūns above the wāw, yāʼ and ʼalif, you’d get موْسيْقىْ, which would be read as *mawsaykāy (note however that the final ʼalif maqṣūra is an ʼalif and never takes sukūn). The word, entirely vocalised, would be written مُوْسِيْقَى in the Qur’an (if it happened to appear there!), or مُوسِيقَى elsewhere. (The Quranic spelling would have no sukūn sign above the final ʼalif maqṣūra, but instead a miniature ʼalif above the preceding qaf consonant, which is a valid Unicode character but most Arabic computer fonts cannot in fact display this miniature ʼalif as of 2006.)
A sukūn is not placed on word-final consonants, even if no vowel is pronounced, because fully vocalised texts are always written as if the i`rab vowels were in fact pronounced. For example, ʼaḥmad zawǧ šarr, meaning “Ahmed is a bad husband”, for the purposes of Arabic grammar and orthography, is treated as if still pronounced with full i`rab, i.e. ʼaḥmadu zawǧun šarrun with the complete desinences.
Name Translit. Phonemic Value (IPA) 0652
sukūn (no vowel with this consonant letter or
diphthong with this long vowel letter)
Ø / /a͡-/ 0670
ʼalif above (no vowel with next final consonant letter or
diphthong with next final long vowel letter)
Ø / /a͡-/
Arabic short vowels are generally not written when writing Arabic, except in sacred texts (such as the Qurʼan, where they must be written) and sometimes in didactics, which are known as vocalised texts.
Before the introduction of printing, occasionally short vowels would be marked where the word would otherwise be ambiguous and could not be resolved simply from context, or simply wherever they looked nice. This custom has now all but disappeared, to the point that many Arabs believe (wrongly) that the use of vowel marks is forbidden outside of the Quran. Most software (such as most text editors and all mobile phones) does not allow the writer to add short vowels, and displays them illegibly if at all.
Short vowels may be written with diacritics placed above or below the consonant that precedes them in the syllable. (All Arabic vowels, long and short, follow a consonant; contrary to appearances, there is a consonant at the start of a name like Ali — in Arabic ʻAliyy — or a word like ʼalif.)
(fully vocalized text)
Name Trans. Value 064E
fatḥa a /a/ 064F
ḍamma u /u/ 0650
kasra i /i/
Long "a" following a consonant other than hamzah is written with a short-"a" mark on the consonant plus an alif after it (ʼalif). Long "i" is a mark for short "i" plus a yaa yāʼ, and long u is mark for short u plus waaw, so aā = ā, iy = ī and uw = ū); long "a" following a hamzah sound may be represented by an alif-madda or by a floating hamzah followed by an alif.
In the table below, vowels will be placed above or below a dotted circle replacing a primary consonant letter or shadda. Please note, that most consonants (except 6 of them) do join to the left with ʼalif, wāw and yāʼ written then with their medial or final form. Additionally, the yāʼ letter in the last row may connect to the letter on its left, and then will use a medial or initial form. For clarity in the table below, the primary letter on the left used to mark these long vowels are shown only in their isolated form. Use the table of primary letters to look at their actual glyph and joining types.
(fully vocalized text)
Name Trans. Value 064E 0627
fatḥa ʼalif ā /aː/ 064E 0649
fatḥa ʼalif maqṣūra (Arabic) ā / aỳ /a/ 064E 06CC
fatḥa yeh (Persian, Urdu) ā / aỳ /a/ 064F 0648
ḍamma wāw ū / uw /uː/ 0650 064A
kasra yāʼ ī / iy /iː/
In an un-vocalised text (one in which the short vowels are not marked), the long vowels are represented by the consonant in question : ʼalif, ʼalif maqṣūra (or yeh), wāw, yāʼ. Long vowels written in the middle of a word of un-vocalized text are treated like consonants taking sukūn (see below) in a text that has full diacritics. Here also, the table shows long vowel letters only in isolated form for clarity.
Name Trans. Value 0627
(implied fatḥa) ʼalif ā /aː/ 0649
(implied fatḥa) ʼalif maqṣūra (Arabic) ā / aỳ /a/ 06CC
(implied fatḥa) yeh (Persian, Urdu) ā / aỳ /a/ 0648
(implied ḍamma) wāw ū / uw /uː/ 064A
(implied kasra) yāʼ ī / iy /iː/
tanwiin letters: ـًـٍـٌ used to write the grammatical endings /-an/, /-in/, and /-un/ respectively for desinences with nunation in indefinite state (see I`rab) in Arabic. ًـً is most commonly written in combination with ا alif (ـًا) or taa' marbūta.
*Standard form of numeral 2 in Egypt is slightly different
0 ٠ ۰ 1 ١ ۱ 2* ٢ ۲ 3 ٣ ۳ 4 ٤ ۴ 5 ٥ ۵ 6 ٦ ۶ 7 ٧ ۷ 8 ٨ ۸ 9 ٩ ۹
In addition, the Arabic alphabet can be used to represent numbers (Abjad numerals), a usage rare today. This usage is based on the Abjadi order of the alphabet. ʼalif is 1, ب bāʼ is 2, ج ǧīm is 3, and so on until ي yāʼ = 10, ك kāf = 20, ل lām = 30, …, ر rāʼ = 200, …, غ ġayn = 1000. This is sometimes used to produce chronograms.
The Arabic alphabet can be traced back to the Nabatean alphabet used to write the Nabataean dialect of Aramaic, itself descended from Phoenician. The first known text in the Arabic alphabet is a late fourth-century inscription from Jabal Ramm (50 km east of Aqaba), but the first dated one is a trilingual inscription at Zebed in Syria from 512. However, the epigraphic record is extremely sparse, with only five certainly pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions surviving, though some others may be pre-Islamic. Later, dots were added above and below the letters to differentiate them (the Aramaic model had fewer phonemes than the Arabic, and some originally distinct Aramaic letters had become indistinguishable in shape, so in the early writings 15 distinct letter-shapes had to do duty for 28 sounds!) The first surviving document that definitely uses these dots is also the first surviving Arabic papyrus (PERF 558), dated April 643, although they did not become obligatory until much later. Important texts like the Qurʼan were frequently memorized; this practice, which survives even today, probably arose partially from a desire to avoid the great ambiguity of the script.
Yet later, vowel signs and hamzas were added, beginning sometime in the last half of the seventh century, roughly contemporaneous with the first invention of Syriac and Hebrew vocalization. Initially, this was done by a system of red dots, said to have been commissioned by an Umayyad governor of Iraq, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf: a dot above = a, a dot below = i, a dot on the line = u, and doubled dots gave tanwin. However, this was cumbersome and easily confusable with the letter-distinguishing dots, so about 100 years later, the modern system was adopted. The system was finalized around 786 by al-Farahidi.
Arabic alphabets of other languages
Worldwide use of the Arabic alphabet → Countries where the Arabic script is the only official orthography → Countries where the Arabic script is used alongside other orthographies.
Arabic script has been adopted for use in a wide variety of languages other than Arabic, including Persian, Kurdish, Malay and Urdu. Such adaptations may feature altered or new characters to represent phonemes that do not appear in Arabic phonology. For example, the Arabic language lacks a [p] phoneme, so many languages add their own letter to represent [p] in the script, though the specific letter used varies from language to language. These modifications tend to fall into groups: all the Indian and Turkic languages written in Arabic script tend to use the Persian modified letters, whereas Indonesian languages tend to imitate those of Jawi. The modified version of the Arabic script originally devised for use with Persian is known as the Perso-Arabic script by scholars.
In the case of Kurdish, vowels are mandatory, making the script an abugida rather than an abjad as it is for most languages. Kashmiri, also, writes all vowels.
Use of Arabic script in West African languages, especially in the Sahel, developed with the penetration of Islam. To a certain degree the style and usage tends to follow those of the Maghreb (for instance the position of dots in the fa and qaf letters). Additional diacritics have come into use to facilitate writing of sounds not represented in the Arabic language. The term "Ajami," which comes from the Arabic root for "stranger" has been applied to Arabic-based orthographies of African languages.
Current uses of the alphabet for languages other than ArabicToday Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China are the main non-Arab states using the Arabic alphabet to write one or more official national languages, including Persian, Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Uyghur.
The Arabic alphabet is currently used for:
Middle East and Central Asia
- Kurdish and Turkmen in Northern Iraq. (In Turkey and Syria, the Latin alphabet is now used for Kurdish);
- Official language Persian and regional languages including Azeri, Kurdish and Baluchi in Iran;
- Official languages Dari (which differs only to a minor degree from Persian) and Pashto and all regional languages including Uzbek in Afghanistan;
- Tajik also differs only to a minor degree from Persian, and while in Tajikistan the usual Tajik alphabet is an extended Cyrillic alphabet, there is also some use of Arabic-alphabet Persian books from Iran
- Uyghur changed to Roman script in 1969 and back to a simplified, fully voweled, Arabic script in 1983;
- Kazakh is written in Arabic in Pakistan, Iran, China, and Afghanistan; and
- Kyrgyz is written in Arabic by the 150,000 in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
- Official language Urdu and regional languages including Punjabi (where the script is known as Shahmukhi), Sindhi, Kashmiri, and Balochi in Pakistan;
- Urdu and Kashmiri in India. Urdu is one of several official languages in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh; see List of national languages of India. Kashmiri also uses Sharada script;
- The Arwi language known as Arabic-Tamil uses the Arabic script together with the addition of 13 letters. It is mainly used in Sri Lanka and the South Indian states of Tamilnadu and Kerala for religious purposes.
- The Thaana script used to write the Dhivehi language in the Maldives has vowels derived from the vowel diacritics of the Arabic script. Some of the consonants are borrowed from Arabic numerals.
- Malay in the Arabic script known as Jawi is co-official in Brunei, and used for religious purposes in Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern Thailand, Singapore, and predominantly Muslim areas of the Philippines.
- Bedawi or Beja, mainly in northeastern Sudan
- Comorian (Comorian) in the Comoros, currently side by side with the Latin alphabet (neither is official);
- Hausa for many purposes, especially religious (known as Ajami);
- Mandinka, widely but unofficially (known as Ajami); (another non-Latin alphabet used is N'Ko)
- Fula, especially the Pular of Guinea(known as Ajami);
- Wolof (at zaouias), known as Wolofal.
- Tamazight and other Berber languages were traditionally written in Arabic in the Maghreb. There is now a competing 'revival' of neo-Tifinagh.
Former uses of the alphabet for languages other than ArabicSpeakers of languages that were previously unwritten used Arabic script as a basis to design writing systems for their mother languages. This choice could be influenced by Arabic being their second language, the language of scripture of their faith, or the only written language they came in contact with. Additionally, since most education was once religious, choice of script was determined by the writer's religion; which meant that Muslims would use Arabic script to write whatever language they spoke. This led to Arabic script being the most widely used script during the Middle Ages. See also Languages of Muslim countries.
In the 20th century, Arabic script was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet in the Balkans, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinization,  use of the Cyrillic alphabet was mandated. Turkey changed to the Latin alphabet in 1928 as part of an internal Westernizing revolution. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the Turkic languages of the ex-USSR attempted to follow Turkey's lead and convert to a Turkish-style Latin alphabet. However, renewed use of the Arabic alphabet has occurred to a limited extent in Tajikistan, whose language's close resemblance to Persian allows direct use of publications from Iran. 
Most languages of the Iranian languages family continue to use Arabic script, as well as the Indo-Aryan languages of Pakistan and of Muslim populations in India, but the Bengali language of Bangladesh is written in the Bengali alphabet.
- Afrikaans (as it was first written among the "Cape Malays", see Arabic Afrikaans);
- Berber in North Africa, particularly Tachelhit in Morocco (still being considered, along with Tifinagh and Latin for Tamazight);
- Harari, by the Harari people of the Harari Region in Ethiopia. Now uses the Ge'ez alphabet.
- For the West African languages mentioned above - Hausa, Fula, Mandinka, and Wolof - the Latin alphabet has officially replaced Arabic transcriptions for use in literacy and education;
- Malagasy in Madagascar (script known as Sorabe);
- Swahili (has used the Latin alphabet since the 19th century);
- Somali (has used the Latin alphabet since 1972);
- Songhay in West Africa, particularly in Timbuktu;
- Yoruba in West Africa (this was probably limited, but still notable)
- Azeri in Azerbaijan (now written in the Latin alphabet and Cyrillic alphabet scripts in Azerbaijan);
- Bosnian (only for literary purposes; presently written in the Latin alphabet);
- Polish (among ethnic Tatars);
- Belarusian (among ethnic Tatars; see Belarusian Arabic alphabet);
- Mozarabic, when the Moors ruled Spain (and later Aragonese, Portuguese, and Spanish proper; see aljamiado);
Central Asia and Russian Federation
- Bashkir (for some years: from October Revolution (1917) until 1928);
- Chaghatai across Central Asia;
- Chechen (from the adoption of Islam in the XVI century until 1928);
- Kazakh in Kazakhstan (until 1930s, now uses Cyrillic script);
- Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan (until 1930s, now uses Cyrillic script);
- Tatar (iske imlâ) before 1928 (changed to Latin), reformed in 1880s, 1918 (deletion of some letters);
- Chinese and Dungan, among the Hui people (script known as Xiao'erjing);
- Turkmen in Turkmenistan;
- Uzbek in Uzbekistan;
- All the Muslim peoples of the USSR between 1918-1928 (many also earlier), including Bashkir, Chechen, Kazakh, Tajik etc. After 1928 their script became Latin, then later Cyrillic.
- Arwi, a Tamil dialect that was used extensively by the Muslim minority of Tamil Nadu state of India and Sri Lanka.
- Turkish in the Ottoman Empire was written in Arabic script until Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared the change to Roman script in 1928. This form of Turkish is now known as Ottoman Turkish and is held by many to be a different language, due to its much higher percentage of Persian and Arabic loanwords; (Ottoman Turkish alphabet)
- Kurdish (Kurmanji dialect) in Turkey and Syria was written in Arabic script until 1932, when a modified Kurdish Latin alphabet was introduced by Jaladat Ali Badirkhan in Syria.
Computers and the Arabic alphabetThe Arabic alphabet can be encoded using several character sets, including ISO-8859-6 and Unicode, in the latter thanks to the "Arabic segment", entries U+0600 to U+06FF. However, neither of these sets indicate the form each character should take in context. It is left to the rendering engine to select the proper glyph to display for each character.
See also the notes of the section on modified letters.
Keyboards designed for different nations have different layouts so that proficiency in one style of keyboard such as Iraq's does not transfer to proficiency in another keyboard such as Saudi Arabia's. Differences can include the location of non-alphabetic characters such as '<' as well as the location of vowel marks and possibly other differences.
All Arabic keyboards allow typing Roman characters, e.g. for URL in a web browser. Thus, each Arabic keyboard has both Arabic and Roman characters marked on the keys. Usually the Roman characters of an Arabic keyboard conform to the QWERTY layout, but in North Africa, where French is the most common language typed using the Roman characters, the Arabic keyboards are AZERTY.
When one wants to encode a particular written form of a character, there are extra code points provided in Unicode which can be used to express the exact written form desired. The range Arabic presentation forms A (U+FB50 to U+FDFF) contain ligatures while the range Arabic presentation forms B (U+FE70 to U+FEFF) contains the positional variants. These effects are better achieved in Unicode by using the zero width joiner and non-joiner, as these presentation forms are deprecated in Unicode, and should generally only be used within the internals of text-rendering software, when using Unicode as an intermediate form for conversion between character encodings, or for backwards compatibility with implementations that rely on the hard-coding of glyph forms.
Finally, the Unicode encoding of Arabic is in logical order, that is, the characters are entered, and stored in computer memory, in the order that they are written and pronounced without worrying about the direction in which they will be displayed on paper or on the screen. Again, it is left to the rendering engine to present the characters in the correct direction, using Unicode's bi-directional text features. In this regard, if the Arabic words on this page are written left to right, it is an indication that the Unicode rendering engine used to display them is out-of-date. For more information about encoding Arabic, consult the Unicode manual available at 
- MULTILINGUAL COMPUTING WITH ARABIC AND ARABIC TRANSLITERATION Arabicizing Windows Applications to Read and Write Arabic & Solutions for the Transliteration Quagmire Faced by Arabic-Script Languages
- A PowerPoint Tutorial (with screen shots and an English voice-over) on how to add Arabic to the Windows Operating System
Arabic text computerizedThe first software program of its kind in the world that identifies Arabic handwriting in real time has been developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University.
The prototype enables the user to write Arabic words by hand on an electronic screen, which then analyzes the text and translates it into printed Arabic letters in a thousandth of a second. The error rate is less than three percent, according to Dr. Jihad El-Sana, from BGU's department of computer sciences, who developed the system along with master's degree student Fadi Biadsy.
Arabic printing pressesAlthough Napoleon Bonaparte generally is given the credit with introducing the printing press to the Arab world upon invading Egypt in 1798, and he did indeed bring printing presses and Arabic script presses, to print the French occupation's official newspaper Al-Tanbiyyah (The Courier), the process was started several centuries earlier.
Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in 1450 was followed up by Gregorio de Gregorii, a Venetian, who in 1514 published an entire prayer book in Arabic script entitled Kitab Salat al-Sawa'i intended for the eastern Christian communities. The script was said to be crude and almost unreadable.
Famed type designer Robert Granjon working for Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici succeeded in designing elegant Arabic typefaces and the Medici press published many Christian prayer and scholarly Arabic texts in the late sixteenth century.
The first Arabic books published using movable type in the Middle East were by the Maronite monks at the Maar Quz?hayy Monastery in Mount Lebanon. They transliterated the Arabic language using Syriac script. It took a fellow goldsmith like Gutenberg to design and implement the first true Arabic script movable type printing press in the Middle East. The Greek Orthodox monk Abd Allah Zakhir set up an Arabic language printing press using movable type at the monastery of Saint John at the town of Dhour El Shuwayr in Mount Lebanon, the first home made press in Lebanon using true Arabic script. He personally cut the type molds and did the founding of the elegant typeface. He created the first true Arabic script type in the Middle East. The first book off the press was in 1734; this press continued to be used until 1899. 
- Arabic calligraphy - considered an art form in its own right
- Arabic numerals
- Romanization of Arabic
- Arabic Chat Alphabet
- ArabTeX - provides Arabic support for TeX and LaTeX
- Jawi - an adapted Arabic alphabet for the Malay language
- South Arabian alphabet
- History of the Arabic alphabet
- The Arabic Alphabet showing the different glyphs for each letter and its code position in Unicode
- Alphabet, with sound, just click on a letter
- Arabic writing and calligraphy
- Article about Arabic alphabet
- Arabic alphabet and calligraphy
- (freeware) to learn the characters
- Guide to the use of Arabic in Windows, major word processors and web browsers
- Learn the Arabic Script Online
- Madinaharabic.com: Free Arabic Reading and Language Course (with sound)
- Arabic Alphabet Quiz Choose the "Arabic" link.
- Babel Arabic Writing Explanation
- Site on Scripts and Writing Systems: A long list of links to sites dealing with issues of scripts.
Online Arabic keyboards
- Arabic Keyboard adapted to QWERTY (ISLAM-91)
- clavier arabe en ligne LEXILOGOS (French)
- Muftah-Alhuruf.com: Write and send Arabic emails without having an Arabic keyboard or operating system.
This article contains major sections of text from the very detailed article from the French Wikipedia, which has been partially translated into English. Further translation of that page, and its incorporation into the text here, are welcomed.Abjad is a term suggested by Peter T. Daniels  to replace the common terms consonantary or consonantal alphabet or syllabary to refer to the family of scripts called West Semitic, a type of writing system in which each symbol stands for a
..... Click the link for more information.al-‘Arabiyyah in written Arabic (Kufic script):
Spoken in: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman,
..... Click the link for more information.fɒːɾˈsiː in Perso-Arabic script (Nasta`liq style):
Spoken in: Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and areas of Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
..... Click the link for more information.Balochi}}}
Official language of: Balochistan
Regulated by: no official regulation
ISO 639-1: none
ISO 639-2: bal
ISO 639-3: variously:
bal — Baluchi (generic)
..... Click the link for more information.Urdu}}}
Writing system: Urdu alphabet (Nasta'liq script)
Official language of: Pakistan ;
..... Click the link for more information.Kurdish}}}
Writing system: Kurdish alphabet (modified Arabic alphabet in Iraq and Iran, modified Latin alphabet in Turkey and Syria, modified Cyrillic in the former USSR)
Official language of: Iraq
Kurdish Autonomous Region
..... Click the link for more information.Pashto (پښتو, IPA: [pəʂ'to] also known as Pakhto, Pushto, Pukhto
..... Click the link for more information.Sindhī (سنڌي, सिन्धी) is the language of the Sindh region of South Asia, which is now a province of Pakistan. It is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by approximately 18.5 million people in Pakistan, and 2.
..... Click the link for more information.Malay}}}
Writing system: Rumi (Latin alphabet) (official) and Jawi (Arabic script); historically written in Pallava, Kawi and Rencong
Official language of:
..... Click the link for more information.4th century · 5th century
370s 380s 390s 400s 410s 420s 430s
397 398 399 400 401 402 403
..... Click the link for more information.Proto-Canaanite alphabet
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
The Proto-Canaanite alphabet is an abjad of twenty-plus acrophonic glyphs, found in Levantine texts of the Late Bronze Age (from ca.
..... Click the link for more information.Phoenician alphabet
Child systems Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
Many hypothesized others
Sister systems South Arabian alphabet
Unicode range U+10900 to U+1091F
ISO 15924 Phnx
..... Click the link for more information.Aramaic alphabet
Child systems Hebrew
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
..... Click the link for more information.Nabataean
Child systems Arabic alphabet
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
The Nabatean alphabet is a consonantal alphabet (abjad) that was used by the Nabateans in the 2nd century BC.
..... Click the link for more information.Syriac alphabet
Child systems Sogdian →Orkhon (Turkic)
..... Click the link for more information.Unicode’s Universal Character Set potentially supports over 1 million (1,114,112 = 220 + 216 or 17 × 216, hexadecimal 110000) code points.
As of Unicode 5.0.0, 102,012 (9.
..... Click the link for more information.ISO 15924, Codes for the representation of names of scripts, defines two sets of codes for a number of writing systems (scripts). Each script is given both a four-letter code and a numeric one.
..... Click the link for more information.International Phonetic Alphabet
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
IPA for English The
..... Click the link for more information.Unicode is an industry standard allowing computers to consistently represent and manipulate text expressed in any of the world's writing systems. Developed in tandem with the Universal Character Set standard and published in book form as The Unicode Standard
..... Click the link for more information.Alif (Arabic: ﺍ, pronounced ʾalif) is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.
..... Click the link for more information.Bet, Beth, or Vet is the second letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.Taw or Tav is the twenty-second and last letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.Gimel is the third letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.
..... Click the link for more information.Dalet (
..... Click the link for more information.Resh is the twentieth letter of many Semitic alphabets, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.Zayin (also spelled Zain or Zayn) is the seventh letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.Shin (also spelled Šin or Sheen) is the twenty-first letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.Tsade (also spelled Ṣādē or Tzadi or Sadhe or Tzaddik) is the eighteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew
..... Click the link for more information.
..... Click the link for more information.
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