Arabic script

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Arabic script
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{{for|the Arabic script as it is used specifically to write Arabic|Arabic alphabet}}{{redirect|Perso-Arabic script|the script as it is used to write Persian|Persian alphabet}}{{short description|Writing system used for writing several languages of Asia and Africa}}

|U+0750–U+077F {{smaller|Arabic Supplement}} |U+08A0–U+08FF {{smaller| Arabic Extended-A}} |U+FB50–U+FDFF {{smaller|Arabic Pres. Forms-A}} |U+FE70–U+FEFF {{smaller|Arabic Pres. Forms-B}} |U+1EE00–U+1EEFF {{smaller|Arabic Mathematical...}} |U+1EC70–U+1ECBF {{smaller|Indic Siyaq Numbers}} style="font-size:250%;" lang="ar" style="background-color:#ddd;" style="font-size:250%;" lang="ar" style="background-color:#ddd;" style="font-size:250%;" lang="ar" style="background-color:#ddd;" style="font-size:250%;" lang="ar" style="background-color:#ddd;"
U+1ED00–U+1ED4F {{smaller>Ottoman Siyaq Numbers}}U+10E60–U+10E7F {{smaller>Rumi Numeral Symbols}}}}
}}The Arabic or Perso-Arabic script is a writing system used for writing Arabic and several other languages of Asia and Africa, such as Persian, Kurdish, Azerbaijani, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashto, Lurish, Urdu and Mandinka.Mahinnaz Mirdehghan. 2010. Persian, Urdu, and Pashto: A comparative orthographic analysis. Writing Systems Research Vol. 2, No. 1, 9–23. Until the 16th century, it was also used to write some texts in Spanish. Additionally, prior to the language reform in 1928, it was the writing system of Turkish.WEB,weblink Exposición Virtual. Biblioteca Nacional de España,, 2012-04-06, It is the second-most widely used writing system in the world by the number of countries using it and the third by the number of users, after Latin and Chinese characters.WEB,weblink Arabic Alphabet, 2015-05-16, Encyclopædia Britannica online,weblink" title="">weblink 26 April 2015, live, The Arabic script is written from right to left in a cursive style. In most cases, the letters transcribe consonants or consonants and a few vowels, so most Arabic alphabets are abjads.The script was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the {{transl|ar|ALA|Qurʼān}}, the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used as the primary script for many language families, leading to the addition of new letters and other symbols, with some versions, such as Kurdish, Uyghur and old Bosnian being abugidas or true alphabets. It is also the basis for the tradition of Arabic calligraphy.


{{Further|History of the Arabic alphabet}}

Languages written with the Arabic script

{{more citations needed section|date=March 2018}}{|class="wikitable floatright" style="text-align:center;"
Arabic alphabet
ḫāʾ / khāʾ style="width: 5em;" jīm style="width: 5em;" tāʾ style="width: 5em;" ʾalif
(File:Wikipedia in Arabic script languages in KACST Office.svg|thumbnail|Wikipedia in Arabic script of five languages){| class="toccolours" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="float:right; clear:right; font-size:85%; width:400px; margin:0 0 1em 1em;" style="background:#0a0;"! colspan="3" style="text-align:center;"| Worldwide use of the Arabic script (File:Arabic alphabet world distribution - four shades.png400px|Arabic alphabet world distribution) Countries where the Arabic script:  â†’  is the only official script  â†’  is the only official script, but other scripts are recognized for national or regional languages  â†’  is official alongside other scripts  â†’  is official at a sub-national level (China, India) or is a recognized alternative script (Malaysia)The Arabic script has been adapted for use in a wide variety of languages besides Arabic, including Persian, Malay and Urdu, which are not Semitic. 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 voiceless bilabial plosive (the {{IPA|[p]}} sound), therefore many languages add their own letter to represent {{IPA|[p]}} in the script, though the specific letter used varies from language to language. These modifications tend to fall into groups: Indian and Turkic languages written in the Arabic script tend to use the Persian modified letters, whereas the languages of Indonesia 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.{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}In the cases of Bosnian, Kurdish, Kashmiri and Uyghur writing systems, vowels are mandatory. The Arabic script can therefore be used in both abugida and abjad forms, although it is often strongly if erroneously connected to the latter.{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}Use of the Arabic script in West African languages, especially in the Sahel, developed with the spread of Islam. To a certain degree the style and usage tends to follow those of the Maghreb (for instance the position of the dots in the letters {{transl|ar|ALA|fāʼ}} and {{transl|ar|ALA|qāf}}). Additional diacritics have come into use to facilitate the writing of sounds not represented in the Arabic language. The term {{transl|ar|ALA|Ê»AjamÄ«}}, which comes from the Arabic root for "foreign," has been applied to Arabic-based orthographies of African languages.{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}

Current use

Today Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan and China are the main non-Arabic speaking states using the Arabic alphabet to write one or more official national languages, including Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Brahui, Persian, Pashto, Central Kurdish, Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Uyghur.{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}An Arabic alphabet is currently used for the following languages:{{citation needed|date=March 2018}}

Middle East and Central Asia

{{Calligraphy}}{{See also|Perso-Arabic alphabet}}

East Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia

  • Malay in the Arabic script known as Jawi. In some cases it can be seen in the signboards of shops and market stalls. Particularly in Brunei, Jawi is used in terms of writing or reading for Islamic religious educational programs in primary school, secondary school, college, or even higher educational institutes such as universities. In addition, some television programming uses Jawi, such as announcements, advertisements, news, social programs or Islamic programs
  • Cham language in CambodiaWEB,weblink Bông Sứ, urangCam,, besides Western Chan script.


  • North Africa
    • Arabic
    • Maghrebi Arabic uses a modified Arabic script, with additional letters, in order to support /g/ (Ú¨/Ú­), /v/ (Ú¥) and /p/ (Ù¾) along with the older /f/ (Ú¢) and /q/ (Ú§)WEB,weblink Zribi, I., Boujelbane, R., Masmoudi, A., Ellouze, M., Belguith, L., & Habash, N. (2014). A Conventional Orthography for Tunisian Arabic. In Proceedings of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC), Reykjavík, Iceland., Brustad, K. (2000). The syntax of spoken Arabic: A comparative study of Moroccan, Egyptian, Syrian, and Kuwaiti dialects. Georgetown University Press.
    • Berber languages have often been written in an adaptation of the Arabic alphabet. The use of the Arabic alphabet, as well as the competing Latin and Tifinagh scripts, has political connotations
    • Tuareg language (also Tamasheq)
    • Coptic language of Egyptian Coptics as Coptic text written in Arabic lettersWEB,weblink The Coptic Studies' Corner,, 2012-04-17,weblink" title="">weblink 2012-04-19, dead,
  • Northeast Africa
  • Southeast Africa
    • Comorian, in the Comoros, currently side by side with the Latin alphabet (neither is official)
    • Swahili, was originally written in Arabic alphabet, Swahili orthography is now based on the Latin alphabet that was introduced by Christian missionaries and colonial administrators
  • West Africa
    • Zarma language of the Songhay family. It is the language of the southwestern lobe of the West African nation of Niger, and it is the second leading language of Niger, after Hausa, which is spoken in south central NigerWEB,weblink Zarma,,
    • Tadaksahak is a Songhay language spoken by the pastoralist Idaksahak of the Ménaka area of MaliWEB,weblink Tadaksahak,,
    • Hausa language uses an adaptation of the Arabic script known as Ajami, for many purposes, especially religious, but including newspapers, mass mobilization posters and public informationWEB,weblink Lost Language — Bostonia Summer 2009,,
    • Dyula language is a Mandé language spoken in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.WEB,weblink Dyula,,
    • Jola-Fonyi language of the Casamance region of SenegalWEB,weblink Jola-Fonyi,,
    • Balanta language a Bak language of west Africa spoken by the Balanta people and Balanta-Ganja dialect in Senegal
    • Mandinka, widely but unofficially (known as Ajami), (another non-Latin script used is the N'Ko script)
    • Fula, especially the Pular of Guinea (known as Ajami)
    • Wolof (at zaouia schools), known as Wolofal.
  • Arabic script outside Africa
    • In writings of African American slaves
      • Writings of by Omar Ibn Said (1770–1864) of SenegalWEB,weblink Ibn Sayyid manuscript, 2018-09-27,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-09-08, dead,
      • The Bilali Document also known as Bilali Muhammad Document is a handwritten, Arabic manuscriptWEB,weblink Muhammad Arabic letter, 2018-09-27,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-09-08, dead, on West African Islamic law. It was written by Bilali Mohammet in the 19th century. The document is currently housed in the library at the University of Georgia
      • Letter written by Ayuba Suleiman Diallo (1701–1773)
      • Arabic Text From 1768WEB,weblink Charno Letter, Muslims In America, August 5, 2013,weblink" title="">weblink May 20, 2013, dead,
      • Letter written by Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (1762–1829)

Former use

Speakers 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.In the 20th century, the Arabic script was generally replaced by the Latin alphabet in the Balkans,{{dubious|date=November 2011}} parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinisation,Alphabet Transitions – The Latin Script: A New Chronology – Symbol of a New Azerbaijan, by Tamam Bayatly use of Cyrillic 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 Afghanistan and Iran.WEB,weblink Tajik Language: Farsi or Not Farsi?, dead,weblink" title="">weblink June 13, 2006, Sukhail Siddikzoda, 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. However, the Bengali language of India and Bangladesh was never written in Arabic script, which has been written in the Bengali alphabet since inception.WEB,weblink Escudero Pascual Alberto, Writing Systems/ Scripts, 23 October 2005, 2006-11-20, Primer to Localization of Software,,weblink" title="">weblink 19 March 2009, dead, dmy-all,



Central Asia and Caucasus

Southeast Asia


Middle East

  • Hebrew was written in Arabic letters in a number of places in the pastp. 20, Samuel Noel Kramer. 1986. In the World of Sumer: An Autobiography. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.J. Blau. 2000. Hebrew written in Arabic characters: An instance of radical change in tradition. (In Hebrew, with English summary). In Heritage and Innovation in Judaeo-Arabic Culture: Proceedings of the Sixth Conference of the Society For Judaeo-Arabic Studies, p. 27-31. Ramat Gan.
  • Northern Kurdish 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
  • Turkish in the Ottoman Empire was written in Arabic script until Mustafa Kemal Atatürk declared the change to Latin 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)

Special letters{| class"wikitable"|+Most Common Non-Classical Arabic Consonant Phonemes/Graphemes

!Language Family! colspan="2" |Austron.!Dravid!Turkic! colspan="3" |Indic (Indo-European)! colspan="4" |Iranian (Indo-European)! rowspan="2" |! colspan="9" |Arabic (Semitic)!Language/Script!Jawi!Pegon!Arwi!Uyghur!Sindhi!Punjabi!Urdu!Persian!Balochi!Kurdish!Pashto!Moroccan!Tunisian!Algerian!Hejazi!Najdi!Egyptian!Palestinian!Iraqi!Gulf style="text-align:center;"p}}{{script/Arabic|ڤ}}ڣ}}{{script/Arabic|پ}}{{script/Arabicپ}} / {{script/Arabic>ب}} style="text-align:center;"g}}ݢ}}{{script/ArabicGaf>ࢴ}}{{script/ArabicGaf>گ}}ګ}}ڭ}} / {{script/ArabicGaf>گ}}{{script/Arabicڨ}} / {{script/Arabic>ڧ ڧ>ـڧـ ٯ}} / {{script/Arabic>ق}}{{script/Arabic|ق}}ج}}چ}} / {{script/Arabic|ج}}Gaf}} / {{script/Arabic>ك}}ق / گ}} style="text-align:center;"t͡ʃ}}{{script/Arabic|چ}}|Ø{{script/Arabic|چ}}ڜ}}{{script/Arabic|تش}}{{script/Arabic|چ}} style="text-align:center;"v}}ۏ}}ف}}و}}ۋ}}{{script/Arabic|و}}|Øڤ}}|Ø{{script/Arabicڥ}} / {{script/Arabic>ڢ}} / {{script/Arabic|ف}}{{script/Arabicڤ}} / {{script/Arabic>ف}} style="text-align:center;"ʒ}}Øژ}}Ø{{script/Arabic|ژ}}its usage depends on the dialect style="text-align:center;"ŋ}}{{script/Arabic|ڠ}}ࢳ}}ڭ}}ڱ}}{{script/Arabic|ں}}{{script/Arabic|ن}}ØØ style="text-align:center;"ɳ}}|Ø|Øڹ}}|Øڻ}}Øڼ}}Ø style="text-align:center;"ɲ}}ڽ}}ۑ}}ݧ}}ØØØ ! Alphabet! #Chars! Languages! Region! Derived from! Comment| Arabic alphabet| 28Arabic language>Arabic| North Africa, West Asia| Aramaic alphabet, Syriac alphabet, Nabataean alphabet|| Ajami script| 33Hausa language, Swahili language>Swahili| West Africa| Arabic| Abjad| Arebica| 30Bosnian language>Bosnian| Southeastern Europe| Perso-Arabic| latest stage with full vowel marking| Arwi alphabet| 41Tamil language>Tamil| Southern India, Sri Lanka| Perso-Arabic|| Belarusian Arabic alphabet| 32Belarusian language>Belarusian| Eastern Europe| Perso-Arabic| 15th/16th century| Berber Arabic alphabet(s)|| various Berber languages| North Africa| Arabic|| Chagatai alphabet(s)| 32Chagatai language>Chagatai| Central Asia| Perso-Arabic|| Galal alphabet| 32Somali language>Somali| Horn of Africa| Arabic|| Jawi script| 36Malay language>Malay | Peninsular Malay| Perso-Arabic| Since 1303 AD (Trengganu Stone)| Kashmiri alphabet| 44Kashmiri language>Kashmiri| South Asia| Perso-Arabic|Kazakh alphabets#Arabic>Kazakh Arabic alphabet| 35Kazakh language>Kazakh| Central Asia, China| Perso-Arabic/Chagatai| since 11th century, now official only in China| Khowar alphabet| 60Khowar language>Khowar| South Asia| Perso-Arabic|Kyrgyz alphabets#Arabic>Kyrgyz Arabic alphabet| 33Kyrgyz language>Kyrgyz|| Perso-Arabic| now official only in China| Kuryan alphabet|44|Korean language| East Asia, South Korea| Perso-Arabic| invented by Korean Muslim in the 2000s| Nasta'liq script|| Urdu and others|| Perso-Arabic|| Pashto alphabet| 45Pashto language>Pashto| Afghanistan and Pakistan| Perso-Arabic|| Pegon alphabet| 35Javanese language>Javanese, Sundanese| Indonesia| Perso-Arabic|| Persian alphabet| 32Persian language>Persian| Iran| Arabic|| Saraiki alphabet| 45Saraiki language>Saraiki| Pakistan| Perso-Arabic|| Shahmukhi script| 37Punjabi language>Punjabi| Pakistan| Perso-Arabic|| Sindhi alphabet| 64Sindhi language>Sindhi| Pakistan| Perso-Arabic|| Sorabe alphabet| 33Malagasy language>Malagasy| Madagascar| Arabic|Kurdish alphabets#Sorani alphabet>Soranî alphabet| 33| Central Kurdish| Perso-Arabic|| Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida||Swahili language>Swahili|||| İske imlâ alphabet| 35Tatar language>Tatar|| Perso-Arabic/Chagatai| before 1920| Ottoman Turkish alphabet| 32Ottoman Turkish language>Ottoman Turkish| Ottoman Empire| Perso-Arabic| Official until 1928| Urdu alphabet| 58Urdu language>Urdu| South Asia| Perso-Arabic|| Uyghur Arabic alphabet| 32Uyghur language>Uyghur| China, Central Asia| Perso-Arabic/Chagatai| Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida| Wolofal script| 28Wolof language>Wolof| West Africa| Arabic|| Xiao'erjing| 36| Sinitic languages| China, Central Asia| Perso-Arabic|| Yaña imlâ alphabet| 29Tatar language>Tatar|| Perso-Arabic/Chagatai| 1920–1927


As of Unicode 12.0, the following ranges encode Arabic characters:

See also



External links

{{Commons category-inline}} {{ISO 15924/footer}}{{Arabic alphabets}}{{Arabic language}}{{list of writing systems}}

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