The Arabic alphabet, also called Arabic abjad, contains 28 basic letters with a variety of special characters and vowel markers. It is written in a cursive style, and unlike the Latin alphabet, is read right to left.
Most the 28 letters are consonants which classifies the alphabet as an abjad. This means that in everyday writing short vowels are omitted and readers must use their knowledge of the language to infer the vowels. However, the Qur'an and most educational materials, including Salam Arabic, employ vowel markers because subtle differences can completely change the meaning a phrase.
The Hebrew alphabet is also considered an abjad. Both alphabets share many similarities because of their Phoenician roots.
Arabic letter forms do not have an upper or lower case such in the Latin alphabet. However, because Arabic is written in a connected cursive style, each letter has a different form given its position in the word. In this lesson, you will learn the isolated form of each letter.
Each letter also has a beginning, middle and final form. The exception to this are the letters alif, daal, dhaal, raa, zaa and waaw which are called selfish letters because they do not connect with others. These letters have identical isolated and beginning forms and identical middle and final forms.
The cursive style of Arabic has also allowed for the rise of ligatures, two separate letters written in a conjoined form, and other modified letters.
Arabic is not the only language that uses the Arabic abjad. Other languages such as Persian, Ottoman (pre-regularization Turkish), Sindhi, Urdu, Malay and Pashto do as well, though with slight alterations.