The Arabic alphabet has 28 basic letters. Adaptations of the Arabic script for other languages, such as Persian, Ottoman, Sindhi, Urdu, Malay or Pashto, Arabi Malayalam, have additional letters, shown below. There are no distinct upper and lower case letter forms.
Many letters look similar but are distinguished from one another by dots (’i‘jām) above or below their central part, called rasm. These dots are an integral part of a letter, since they distinguish between letters that represent different sounds. For example, the Arabic letters transliterated as b and t have the same basic shape, but b has one dot below, ب, and t has two dots above, ت.
Both printed and written Arabic are cursive, with most of the letters within a word directly connected to the adjacent letters.
There are two main collating sequences for the Arabic alphabet:
- The original ’abjadī order (أبجدي), used for lettering, derives from the order of the Phoenician alphabet, and is therefore similar to the order of other Phoenician-derived alphabets, such as the Hebrew alphabet. In this order letters are also used as numbers.
- The hijā’ī (هجائي) or ’alifbā’ī (ألفبائي) order shown in the table below, used where lists of names and words are sorted, as in phonebooks, classroom lists, and dictionaries, groups letters by similarity of shape.
The ’abjadī order is not a simple historical continuation of the earlier north Semitic alphabetic order, since it has a position corresponding to the Aramaic letter sameḵ/semkat ס, yet no letter of the Arabic alphabet historically derives from that letter. Loss of sameḵ was compensated for by the split of shin שinto two independent Arabic letters, ش (shīn) and ﺱ (sīn) which moved up to take the place of sameḵ.
The most common ’abjadī sequence is:
غ ظ ض ذ خ ث ت ش ر ق ص ف ع س ن م ل ك ي ط ح ز و ه د ج ب أ gh ẓ ḍ dh kh th t sh r q ṣ f ‘ s n m l k y ṭ ḥ z w h d j b ’
Note: In this sequence, and all those that follow, the letters are presented in Arabic writing order, i.e., right to left. The Latin script transliterations are also in this order, with each placed under its corresponding letter. Thus, the first letter of the sequence is “أ”(’) at the right, and the last letter in the sequence is “غ”(gh), at the left.
This is commonly vocalized as follows:
’abjad hawwaz ḥuṭṭī kalaman sa‘faṣ qarashat thakhadh ḍaẓagh.
Islamic calligraphy is text presented in an artistic form. Arabic text is still very strikingly beautiful but there is more to just writing it. Calligraphy being the artistic practice there are many fantastic visual representations varying from animals, symbols of love and symbols to Allah. Calligraphy is used to represent God because they are not aloud to show images of God. Calligraphy was instilled into islamic writing to preserve the Qur’an, form suspicion of rebellious preaching of other faiths, to keep Islamic faith to its own, thus making it one of the most expressive forms of art in the Islamic world.
There are two styles of calligraphy, Geometric and Cursive. Geometric referred to as “kufic” are presented in very clean and understandable layout. with a stress on horizontal layout, whilst cursive “naskh” was very much more free form and easy to write.
We have been interested in the beautiful typography of the Arabic text, we feel we should represent text in both English and Arabic within our kiosk but whilst not loosing the same type styles.
These 3 texts are the Arabic for education, community development and science and research. The 3 pillars to the Qatar Foundation.
Some sketched out ideas for text combining English and Islamic styles.
this intricate wall piece is typical of calligraphy in the Arabic world. this shows the more cursive (naskh) style, as do the the images that follow.
Here is the text represented in animal form.
wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_calligraphy