Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Special forms in Arabic handwriting

Arabic handwriting can be daunting for a non-native speaker. It is not easy to decipher and there are several forms and conventions that are specific to handwriting.

Initial Alif (ا)
Sometimes people write the Alif underneath the line:

                                                                           'the Sheikh'

 'We implore God Almighty'
   'in Iraq'

Initial meem (م) and fa’ (ف)
In typed Arabic font the ‘head’ of the meem ) appears facing downwards, but in handwriting it often appears pointing upwards. Also confusing is the fact that placing a dot above it makes it a fa’ (ف). It usually appears not as a rounded circle but similar to a dot.


Initial Ha/Kha/Jeem (ح/خ/ج)
The hook part of the letter can appear with a kink or crossed over the bottom part

 Initial Kaaf (ك)
When the initial kaaf appears before an alif, there is a circular bottom part and a diagonal top part resting against the alif.

'as a writer'
Final Kaaf (ك)
When kaaf comes at the end of a word it can be written with a curl instead of the hamza-shape resting in the middle.


Initial Seen, Sheen (س/ ش)
At the beginning of a word, the seen is written with a hook underneath.

Medial Seen, Sheen (س/ ش)
In handwriting the seen/sheen appears just as a line. The sheen has an arrow shape resting above.
'explains it'

Final Qaaf (ق)
Some people write put a hook on the end of a Qaaf and leave off the two dots.

Final Daad (ض)
As with Qaaf above, the dot can be replaced with a hook when Daad comes at the end of the word (left below)

Ayn, Ghayn (ع/غ)
When ayn and ghayn appear alone (i.e. after an alif, waw), the middle part can be inverted, and a curl sometimes seen.

Alif Maqsura (ى)
When Alif maqsura appears after lam (ل) it is sometimes written as a straight line rightwards
Final Nun (ن)
At the end of a word, the nun can appear as an inverted 'z' shape, while the dot is also removed.

from top: 'from', 'laws', 'human'

Lam (ل) proceeding Saad/ daad, ha' (ص/ض/ه/ط/ظ) etc
The lam drops down to form the base of the following letter

If there are any more, please add a comment and I will add them.


  1. Final nun can be written with the dot represented a line towards the centre of the curve, as in this example:

    I found a good book, particularly for people new to Arabic script in general, was "Mastering Arabic Script" by Jane Wightwick and Mahmoud Gaafar.

  2. Nice post. Could you maybe add a couple of images showing how to 'stack' letters-for want of a better word-when preceding a ح ج or خ? Especially in a word such as ننجح, for example, where there are multiple layers of stacking?

  3. Yeah, stacking would be a useful addition. Also, can you clarify the meem example (where 'fate' is your example)?