The Arabic script is the writing system used for writing Arabic and several other languages of Asia and Africa, such as Azerbaijani, Sindhi, Pashto, Persian, Kurdish, Lurish, Urdu, Mandinka, and others. Until the 16th century, it was also used to write some texts in Spanish. Additionally, Turkish, prior to the Turkish language reform, was written in Perso-Arabic script. 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.
The script was first used to write texts in Arabic, most notably the Qurʼān, the holy book of Islam. With the spread of Islam, it came to be used to write languages of 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.
|400 CE to the present|
|inspired the N'Ko alphabet and the Hanifi script|
|ḫāʾ / khāʾ||ḥāʾ||jīm||ṯāʾ / thaʾ||tāʾ||bāʾ||ʾalif|
|ṣād||šīn / shīn||sīn||zāy/zayn||rāʾ||ḏāl / dhāl||dāl|
|qāf||fāʾ||ġayn / ghayn||ʿayn||ẓāʾ||ṭāʾ||ḍād|
|Worldwide use of the Arabic script|
|Countries where the Arabic script:|
|→||is the only official script|
|→||is the only official script, but other scripts are recognized for national or regional languages|
|→||is official alongside other scripts|
|→||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 [p] sound), 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 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.
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, although it is often strongly if erroneously connected to the latter.
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 fāʼ and qāf). Additional diacritics have come into use to facilitate writing of sounds not represented in the Arabic language. The term ʻAjamī, which comes from the Arabic root for "foreign", has been applied to Arabic-based orthographies of African languages.
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.
An Arabic alphabet is currently used for the following languages:
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, parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia, while in the Soviet Union, after a brief period of Latinisation, 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.
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 India and Bangladesh is written in the Bengali alphabet.
|Language Family||Austron.||Dravid||Turkic||Indic (Indo-European)||Iranian (Indo-European)||Arabic (Semitic)|
|/p/||ڤ||ڣ||پ||پ / ب|
|/g/||ݢ||ࢴ||گ||ګ||ڭ / گ||ڨ / ڧـ ـڧـ ـٯ / ق||ق||ج||چ / ج||گ / ك||ق / گ|
|/v/||ۏ||و||ۋ||و||Ø||ڤ||Ø||ڥ / ڢ / ف||ڤ / ف|
|/ʒ/||Ø||ژ||Ø||ژ||its usage depends on the dialect|
|Arabic alphabet||28||Arabic||North Africa, West Asia||Aramaic alphabet, Syriac alphabet, Nabataean alphabet|
|Ajami script||33||Hausa language, Swahili||West Africa||Arabic||Abjad|
|Arebica||30||Bosnian||Southeastern Europe||Perso-Arabic||latest stage with full vowel marking|
|Arwi alphabet||41||Tamil||Southern India, Sri Lanka||Perso-Arabic|
|Belarusian Arabic alphabet||32||Belarusian||Eastern Europe||Perso-Arabic||15th/16th century|
|Berber Arabic alphabet(s)||various Berber languages||North Africa||Arabic|
|Chagatai alphabet(s)||32||Chagatai||Central Asia||Perso-Arabic|
|Galal alphabet||32||Somali||Horn of Africa||Arabic|
|Jawi script||40||Malay||Peninsular Malay||Perso-Arabic||Since 1303 AD (Trengganu Stone)|
|Kashmiri alphabet||44||Kashmiri||South Asia||Perso-Arabic|
|Kazakh Arabic alphabet||35||Kazakh||Central Asia, China||Perso-Arabic/Chagatai||since 11th century, now official only in China|
|Khowar alphabet||60||Khowar||South Asia||Perso-Arabic|
|Kyrgyz Arabic alphabet||33||Kyrgyz||Perso-Arabic||now official only in China|
|Kuryan alphabet||44||Korean language||East Asia, South Korea||Perso-Arabic||invented by Korean Muslim since 2000s|
|Nasta'liq script||Urdu and others||Perso-Arabic|
|Pashto alphabet||45||Pashto||Afghanistan and Pakistan||Perso-Arabic|
|Pegon alphabet||35||Javanese, Sundanese||Indonesia||Perso-Arabic|
|Soranî alphabet||33||Central Kurdish||Perso-Arabic||Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida|
|İske imlâ alphabet||35||Tatar||Perso-Arabic/Chagatai||before 1920|
|Ottoman Turkish alphabet||32||Ottoman Turkish||Ottoman Empire||Perso-Arabic||Official until 1928|
|Urdu alphabet||58||Urdu||South Asia||Perso-Arabic|
|Uyghur Arabic alphabet||32||Uyghur||China, Central Asia||Perso-Arabic/Chagatai||Vowels are mandatory, i.e. abugida|
|Wolofal script||28||Wolof||West Africa||Arabic|
|Xiao'erjing||36||Sinitic languages||China, Central Asia||Perso-Arabic|
|Yaña imlâ alphabet||29||Tatar||Perso-Arabic/Chagatai||1920–1927|
As of Unicode 11.0, the following ranges encode Arabic characters:
Media related to Arabic script at Wikimedia Commons
The Arabic alphabet (Arabic: الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة al-ʾabjadīyah al-ʿarabīyah, or الْحُرُوف الْعَرَبِيَّة al-ḥurūf al-ʿarabīyah) or Arabic abjad is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing Arabic. It is written from right to left in a cursive style and includes 28 letters. Most letters have contextual letterforms.
Originally, the alphabet was an abjad, with only consonants, but it is now considered an "impure abjad". As with other abjads, such as the Hebrew alphabet, scribes later devised means of indicating vowel sounds by separate vowel diacritics.Arabic calligraphy
Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy based on the Arabic alphabet. It is known in Arabic as khatt (Arabic: خط), derived from the word 'line', 'design', or 'construction'.Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script.
Although most Islamic calligraphy is in Arabic and most Arabic calligraphy is Islamic, the two are not identical. Coptic Christian manuscripts in Arabic, for example, may make use of calligraphy. Likewise, there is Islamic calligraphy in Persian.Arabic keyboard
The Arabic keyboard (Arabic: لوحة المفاتيح العربية lawḥat al-mafātīḥ al-`Arabīyyah) is the Arabic keyboard layout used for the Arabic language. All computer Arabic keyboards contain both Arabic letters and Latin letters, the latter being necessary for URLs and e-mail addresses. Since Arabic is written from right to left, when one types with an Arabic keyboard, the letters will start appearing from the right side of the screen.Arabic script in Unicode
As of Unicode 11.0, the Arabic script is contained in the following blocks:
Arabic (0600–06FF, 255 characters)
Arabic Supplement (0750–077F, 48 characters)
Arabic Extended-A (08A0–08FF, 74 characters)
Arabic Presentation Forms-A (FB50–FDFF, 611 characters)
Arabic Presentation Forms-B (FE70–FEFF, 141 characters)
Rumi Numeral Symbols (10E60–10E7F, 31 characters)
Indic Siyaq Numbers (1EC70–1ECBF, 68 characters)
Arabic Mathematical Alphabetic Symbols (1EE00—1EEFF, 143 characters)The basic Arabic range encodes the standard letters and diacritics, but does not encode contextual forms (U+0621–U+0652 being directly based on ISO 8859-6); and also includes the most common diacritics and Arabic-Indic digits.
The Arabic Supplement range encodes letter variants mostly used for writing African (non-Arabic) languages.
The Arabic Extended-A range encodes additional Qur'anic annotations and letter variants used for various non-Arabic languages.
The Arabic Presentation Forms-A range encodes contextual forms and ligatures of letter variants needed for Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Central Asian languages.
The Arabic Presentation Forms-B range encodes spacing forms of Arabic diacritics, and more contextual letter forms.
The presentation forms are present only for compatibility with older standards, and are not currently needed for coding text.
The Arabic Mathematical Alphabetical Symbols block encodes characters used in Arabic mathematical expressions.
The Indic Siyaq Numbers block containing a specialized subset of Arabic script that was used for accounting in India under the Mughals by the 17th century through the middle of the 20th century.Hanifi Rohingya script
The Hanifi Rohingya script is a unified script for the Rohingya language. Rohingya was first written in the 19th century with a version of the Perso-Arabic script. In 1975, an orthographic Arabic script was developed, based on the Urdu alphabet.
In the 1980s, (Maolana) Mohammad Hanif and his colleagues created the suitable phonetic script based on Arabic letters; it has been compared to the N’ko script. The script also includes a set of decimal numbers.Kazakh alphabets
Three alphabets are used to write the Kazakh language: the Cyrillic, Latin and Arabic script. The Cyrillic script is used in Mongolia. An October 2017 Presidential Decree in Kazakhstan ordered that the transition from Cyrillic to a Latin script be completed by 2025. The Arabic script is used in parts of China, Iran and Afghanistan.List of countries and dependencies and their capitals in native languages
The following chart lists countries and dependencies along with their capital cities, in English as well as any additional official language(s).
In bold: Internationally recognized sovereign states
The 193 member states of the United Nations (UN)
Vatican City (administered by the Holy See, a UN observer state), which is generally recognized as a sovereign state
In bold italics: States with limited recognition and associated states not members of the United Nations
De facto sovereign states with partial international recognition, such as the State of Palestine, the Republic of Kosovo and Taiwan
De facto sovereign states lacking general international recognition
Cook Islands and Niue, two associated states of New Zealand without UN membership
In italics: Non-sovereign territories that are recognized by the UN as part of some member state
Special territories recognized by international treaty (such as the special administrative regions of China)
Other territories often regarded as separate geographical territories even though they are integral parts of their mother countries (such as the overseas departments of France)List of languages by writing system
Below is a list of languages sorted by writing system (by alphabetical order).MacFarsi encoding
MacFarsi encoding is used in Apple Macintosh computers to represent Persian and Urdu texts.
Only the upper half (128–255) of the table is shown, the lower half (0–127) being plain ASCII.
The encoding is identical to MacArabic encoding, except the numerals, which are the Persian/Urdu style, also known as "Extended" or "Eastern" Arabic-Indic numerals. See Arabic script in Unicode for more details.
Boxed cells indicate that the character should be treated with strong right-to-left direction.Persian
Persian may refer to:
People and things from Iran, historically called Persia in the English language
Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples
Persian language, an Iranian language of the Indo-European family, native language of ethnic Persians
Persian alphabet, a writing system based on the Arabic script
People and things from the historical Persian Empire
Persian carpet, an essential part of Persian culture
Persian Gulf, a mediterranean sea in Western AsiaPersian alphabet
The Persian alphabet (Persian: الفبای فارسی, alefbā-ye fârsi), or Perso-Arabic alphabet, is a writing system used for the Persian language.
The Persian script is a modified version of the Arabic script. It is an abjad, meaning vowels are underrepresented in writing. The writing direction is mostly but not exclusively right-to-left; mathematical expressions, numeric dates and numbers bearing units are embedded from left to right. The script is cursive, meaning most letters in a word connect to each other; when they are typed, contemporary word processors automatically join adjacent letterforms. However, some Persian compounds do not join, and Persian adds four letters to the basic set for a total of 32 characters.
The replacement of the Pahlavi scripts with the Persian alphabet to write the Persian language was done by the Tahirid dynasty in 9th-century Greater Khorasan.Perso-Arabic Script Code for Information Interchange
Perso-Arabic Script Code for Information Interchange (PASCII) is one of the Indian government standards for encoding languages using writing systems based on Perso-Arabic alphabet, in particular Kashmiri, Persian, Sindhi, and Urdu. The ISCII encoding was originally intended to cover both the Brahmi-derived writing systems of India and the Arabic-based systems, but it was subsequently decided to encode the Arabic-based writing systems separately.Sini (script)
Sini (from Arabic: صيني Ṣīniy, "Chinese") is a calligraphic style used in China for the Arabic script. It can refer to any type of Chinese Arabic calligraphy, but is commonly used to refer to one with thick and tapered effects such as seen in Chinese calligraphy. It is used extensively in mosques in eastern China, and to a lesser extent in Gansu, Ningxia, and Shaanxi.
One famous Sini calligrapher is Hajji Noor Deen Mi Guangjiang.Somali alphabets
A number of writing systems have been used over the years to transcribe the Somali language. Of these, the Somali Latin alphabet is the most widely used. It has been the official writing script in Somalia since the Supreme Revolutionary Council formally introduced it in October 1972, and was disseminated through a nationwide rural literacy campaign. Prior to the twentieth century, the Arabic script was used for writing Somali. An extensive literary and administrative corpus exists in Arabic script. It was the main script historically used by the various Somali Sultans to keep records. Writing systems developed locally in the twentieth century include the Osmanya, Borama and Kaddare scripts.Tell Ain Sofar
Tell Ain Sofar is an archaeological site 2 km south of Muallaka, southwest of Zahle in the Mohafazat (Governorate) of Beqaa, in Lebanon. It dates back at least to the Early Bronze Age.Uyghur Arabic alphabet
The Uyghur Perso-Arabic alphabet (Uyghur: ئۇيغۇر ئەرەب يېزىقى, ULY: Uyghur Ereb Yëziqi or UEY, USY: Уйғур Әрәб Йезиқи) is an Arabic alphabet used for writing the Uyghur language, primarily by Uyghurs living in China. It is one of several Uyghur alphabets, and has been the official alphabet of the Uyghur language since 1982.The first Perso-Arabic derived alphabet for Uyghur was developed in the 10th century, when Islam was introduced there. The version used for writing the Chagatai language. It became the regional literary language, now known as the Chagatay alphabet. It was used nearly exclusively up to the early 1920s. Alternative Uyghur scripts then began emerging and collectively largely displaced Chagatai; Kona Yëziq, meaning "old script", now distinguishes it and UEY from the alternatives that are not derived from Arabic. Between 1937 and 1954 the Perso-Arabic alphabet used to write Uyghur was modified by removing redundant letters and adding markings for vowels. A Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in the 1950s and a Latin alphabet in 1958. The modern Uyghur Perso-Arabic alphabet was made official in 1978 and reinstituted by the Chinese government in 1983, with modifications for representing Uyghur vowels.The Arabic alphabet used before the modifications (Kona Yëziq) did not represent Uyghur vowels and according to Robert Barkley Shaw, spelling was irregular and long vowel letters were frequently written for short vowels since most Turki speakers were unsure of the difference between long and short vowels. The pre-modification alphabet used Arabic diacritics (zabar, zer, and pesh) to mark short vowels.Robert Shaw wrote that Turki writers either "inserted or omitted" the letters for the long vowels ا, و and ي at their own fancy so multiple spellings of the same word could occur, and the ة was used to represent a short a by some Turki writers.The reformed modern Uyghur Arabic alphabet eliminated letters whose sounds were found only in Arabic and spelt Arabic and Persian loanwords, including Islamic religious words, as they were pronounced in Uyghur, not as they were originally spelt in Arabic or Persian.
Several of these alternatives were influenced by security-policy considerations of the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China. (Soviet Uyghur areas experienced several non-Arabic alphabets, and the former CIS countries, especially Kazakhstan, now use primarily a Cyrillic-based alphabet, called Uyghur Siril Yëziqi.)
A Pinyin-derived Latin-based alphabet (with additional letters borrowed from Cyrillic), then called “New script” or Uyghur Yëngi Yëziq or UYY, was for a time the only officially approved alphabet used for Uyghur in Xinjiang. It had technical shortcomings and met social resistance; Uyghur Ereb Yëziqi (UEY), an expansion of the old Chagatai alphabet based on the Arabic script, is now recognized, along with a newer Latin-based alphabet called Uyghur Latin Yëziqi or ULY, replacing the former Pinyin-derived alphabet; UEY is sometimes intended when the term "Kona Yëziq" is used.Uzbek alphabet
The Uzbek language has been written in various scripts: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin.
In Uzbekistan, it is now written in the Latin script officially. In the Xinjiang region of China, some Uzbek speakers write using Cyrillic, while others apply the Uyghur Arabic script for Uzbek. Uzbeks of Afghanistan also write Uzbek using the Arabic script. The Uzbek Arabic script is being taught at schools in Afghanistan.Windows-1256
Windows-1256 is a code page used to write Arabic (and possibly some other languages that use Arabic script, like Persian and Urdu) under Microsoft Windows. This code page is not compatible with ISO 8859-6 and MacArabic encodings.
It encodes every abstract single letter of the basic Arabic alphabet, not every concrete visual form of isolated, initial, medial, final or ligatured letter shape variants (i.e. it encodes characters, not glyphs). The Arabic letters in the C0-FF range are in Arabic alphabetic order, but some Latin characters are interspersed among them. These are some Windows-1252 Latin characters used for French, since this European language has some historic relevance in former French colonies in North Africa such as Morocco and Algeria. This allowed French and Arabic text to be intermixed when using Windows 1256 without any need for code-page switching (however, upper-case letters with diacritics were not included).
Unicode is preferred over Windows 1256 in modern applications, especially on the Internet; meaning the dominant UTF-8 encoding for web pages (see also Arabic script in Unicode, for complete coverage, unlike for e.g. Windows 1256 or ISO-8859-6 that don't cover extras). 0.1% of all web pages use Windows-1256 in June 2016.Xiao'erjing
Xiao'erjing or Xiao'erjin or Xiaor jin or in its shortened form, Xiaojing, literally meaning "children's script" or "minor script" (cf. "original script" referring to the original Perso-Arabic script, simplified Chinese: 本经; traditional Chinese: 本經; pinyin: Běnjīng, Xiao'erjing: بٌکٍْ; Dungan: Бынҗин, Вьnⱬin), is the practice of writing Sinitic languages such as Mandarin (especially the Lanyin, Zhongyuan and Northeastern dialects) or the Dungan language in the Perso-Arabic script. It is used on occasion by many ethnic minorities who adhere to the Islamic faith in China (mostly the Hui, but also the Dongxiang, and the Salar), and formerly by their Dungan descendants in Central Asia. Orthography reforms introduced the Latin script and later the Cyrillic script to the Dungan language, which continue to be used today.
Xiao'erjing is written from right to left, as with other writing systems using the Perso-Arabic script. The Xiao'erjing writing system is unusual among Arabic script-based writing systems in that all vowels, long and short, are explicitly marked at all times with diacritics, unlike some other Arabic-based writing like the Uyghur Ereb Yéziqi which uses full letters and not diacritics to mark short vowels. This makes it a true abugida. Both of these practices are in contrast to the practice of omitting the short vowels in the majority of the languages for which the Arabic script has been adopted (like Arabic, Persian, and Urdu). This is possibly due to the overarching importance of the vowel in a Chinese syllable.