Skip to content

Improving your reading and writing of Arabic handwriting

Reading and deciphering Arabic handwriting

At some point you may see a native Arab’s scrawled handwriting, like the letter above, and wonder what on earth is going on. Arabic handwriting is a whole other world that you will likely never master if your focus is on the spoken word.

It will take you some time familiarising yourself with ruq2ah. We believe that learning to navigate your smartphone in Arabic first, then learning touch-type in Arabic, is more important than fluid native handwriting. So start there.

If your still interested… please read on!

A hand written letter by Jurji Zaydan (جرجي زيدان)

Taken from a a book entitled, “جرجي زيدان: رجال في رجل”, in 1914, Author unknown, Creative Commons License.

Learning to write quicker like native

The calligraphic style behind the most common print and web fonts is qalam an-naskh (قلم النسخ).

The first Sura Al-Fātiha from a Qur'an manuscript by Hattat Aziz Efendi.

From Hattat Aziz Efendi. Istanbul 1988, Creative Commons License.

If you open a word doc and type in a system font like Arial, this is the font you’ll see:

However, Arabic handwriting is often based on a ruq2ah (رُقعة). And if you want to read Arabic jandwriting or write quicker, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with ruq2ah. The titles in newspaper below use ruq2ah, as well as the letter at the top of the page.

Al-Ishtrakeyia Journal (Young Egypt party), 1951

Ruq2ah is characteristed by:

  • letter simplifications
  • new ligatures (when two letters together create a new character like ل + ا = لا)
  • stacked letters
  • word being written on a slight slant

If you want to read and write in the ruq2ah style, we recommend: