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Arabic Calligraphy by Fathima Habna

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'.[1][2]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.



The pens used for Arabic Calligraphy vary from Latin calligraphy. The tools used for calligraphy are different assortments of pens and calligraphy ink. The most common calligraphy pen used is:

Kamish PenEdit

The Kamish Pen also known as a reed pen is used by Arab, Turkish, and Iranian calligraphers. The reed of the pen is grown along rivers. Although this pen has been used for over 500 years, preparing the pen is a lengthy process.

Bamboo PenEdit

Bamboo Pens are one of the oldest pens used for calligraphy. The edge of Bamboo pens allow the performance of calligraphy to be in full movement.

Java PenEdit

The Java pen is known for the tools hardness and ability to create sharp edges. The man is good to use for small scripts.

Handam PenEdit

The Handam pen consists of the same strength that the Jave pen has. The pen is good to use for all kinds of scripts.

Celi PenEdit

The Celi Pen is used for large writing in Arabic Calligraphy. These pens are made from hardwood and cut and drilled.

Arabic AlphabetEdit

The Arabic alphabet is known to be the second most used language in the world. Many scholoars believe that the alphabet was created around the 4th century CE.[3] The alphabet consists of 28 letters written from right to left. Each letter has three ways that it can be written depending on where the letter is placed in a sentence. These three locations are also known as initial, medial, and final.

Popular ScriptsEdit

The two popular scripts used for Arabic scripting are Kufic and Naskh, Kūfic was derived from Iraq and used for inscription on stone and metal. Naskhī originated from Mecca and Medina. The script is used as a cursice script on papyrus and paper.

Other ScriptsEdit

The Thuluth and Nasta'liq and Diwani script are a few other scripts used for Arabic scripting.

The Thuluth script used during the medieval times is known as one of the oldest scripts to exist. The script was used on mosques and for Quranic text due to the appearance of the text.

The Nasta'liq script is used more for Persian than Arabic scripting. Because of the upward slant to the right [4], the script is seen as different than the other scripts. The cursive look creates an elegant look when creating.

The Diwani Script was founded during the Ottoman Turks era. The lining and lettering of this script creates a sense of closeness when writing. Due to this reason, it's difficult to read since the letters interwine [5].

Table of basic lettersEdit

Arabic letters usage in Literary Arabic
Common Maghrebian Letter

(Classical pronunciation)

name in Arabic script
Value in Literary Arabic (IPA) Closest English equivalent in pronunciation Contextual forms Isolated
ʾAbjadī Hijāʾī ʾAbjadī Hijāʾī Final Medial Initial
1. 1. 1. 1. ʾalif


أَلِف ā / ʾ

(also â )

including /aː/[a]
car, cat ـا ا
2. 2. 2. 2. bāʾ


بَاء b /b/[b] barn ـب ـبـ بـ ب
22. 3. 22. 3. tāʾ تَاء t /t/ stick ـت ـتـ تـ ت
23. 4. 23. 4. thāʾ ثَاء th

(also  )

/θ/ think, thumb ـث ـثـ ثـ ث
3. 5. 3. 5. jīm جِيم j

(also ǧ )

/d͡ʒ/[b][c] Jim, gym ـج ـجـ جـ ج
8. 6. 8. 6. ḥāʾ حَاء

(also  )

/ħ/ no equivalent

("guttural" h, may be approximated as heart)

ـح ـحـ حـ ح
24. 7. 24. 7. khāʾ خَاء kh

(also  )

/x/ loch; German Bach ـخ ـخـ خـ خ
4. 8. 4. 8. dāl دَال d /d/ dear ـد د
25. 9. 25. 9. dhāl ذَال dh

(also  )

/ð/ that, them, though ـذ ذ
20. 10. 20. 10. rāʾ رَاء r /r/ rap ـر ر
7. 11. 7. 11. zāy / zayn زَاي z /z/ zebra ـز ز
15. 12. 21. 24. sīn سِين s /s/ sin ـس ـسـ سـ س
21. 13. 28. 25. shīn شِين sh

(also š )

/ʃ/ shin ـش ـشـ شـ ش
18. 14. 15. 18. ṣād صَاد

(also ş )

// swarm, bass ـص ـصـ صـ ص
26. 15. 18. 19. ḍād ضَاد

(also  )

// dwarf ـض ـضـ ضـ ض
9. 16. 9. 12. ṭāʾ طَاء

(also ţ )

// star ـط ـطـ طـ ط
27. 17. 26. 13. ẓāʾ ظَاء

(also  )

/ðˤ/ buzzword ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ
16. 18. 16. 20. ʿayn عَيْن ʿ /ʕ/ no equivalent

("guttural" voiced h; similar to ḥāʾ above)

ـع ـعـ عـ ع
28. 19. 27. 21. ghayn غَيْن gh

(also ġ )

/ɣ/[b] Spanish higo ـغ ـغـ غـ غ
17. 20. 17. 22. fāʾ فَاء f /f/[b] far ـف ـفـ فـ ف[d]
19. 21. 19. 23. qāf قَاف q /q/[b] equal ـق ـقـ قـ ق[d]
11. 22. 11. 14. kāf كَاف k /k/[b] key, cap ـك ـكـ كـ ك
12. 23. 12. 15. lām لاَم l /l/ lamp ـل ـلـ لـ ل
13. 24. 13. 16. mīm مِيم m /m/ me ـم ـمـ مـ م
14. 25. 14. 17. nūn نُون n /n/ nun ـن ـنـ نـ ن
5. 26. 5. 26. hāʾ هَاء h /h/ hat ـه ـهـ هـ ه
6. 27. 6. 27. wāw وَاو w / ū /w/, //[b] we ـو و
10. 28. 10. 28. yāʾ يَاء y / ī /j/, //[b] yacht, meet ـي ـيـ يـ ي[d]
(not counted as alphabet but plays an important role in Arabic grammar and lexicon, including indication [denoting most irregular female nouns] and spelling) hamzah هَمْزة ʾ /ʔ/  uhoh

(aka "glottal stop")


(used mainly in medial and final position, which is an unlinked letter)

ʾalif hamzah أَلِف هَمْزة ـأ أ
ـإ إ
wāw hamzah وَاو هَمْزة ـؤ ؤ
yāʾ hamzah يَاء هَمْزة ـئ ـئـ ئـ ئ
ʾalif maddah أَلِف مَدَّة ʾā /ʔaː/ ـآ آ


  1. ^ Alif can represent many phonemes. See the section on ʾalif.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h See the section on non-native letters and sounds; the letters ⟨ك⟩ ,⟨ق⟩ ,⟨غ⟩ ,⟨ج⟩ are sometimes used to transcribe the phoneme /g/ in loanwords, ⟨ب⟩ to transcribe /p/ and ⟨ف⟩ to transcribe /v/. Likewise the letters ⟨و⟩ and ⟨ي⟩ are used to transcribe the vowels // and // respectively in loanwords and dialects.
  3. ^ ج is pronounced differently depending on the region. See Arabic phonology#Consonants.
  4. ^ a b c See the section on regional variations in letter form.

List of calligraphersEdit

Some classical calligraphers:

Ottoman era


Modern examplesEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Julia Kaestle (10 July 2010). "Arabic calligraphy as a typographic exercise".
  2. ^ Stefan Widany (June 2011). The History of Arabic Calligraphy - an Essay on Its Greatest Artists and Its Development. GRIN Verlag. ISBN 978-3-640-93875-9.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External linksEdit