The Evolution of the Arabic Script: From the Nabataeans to the Beginnings of Islam
Translated by: Prof. Sultan Al-Maani & Dr. Fardoos Al-Ajlouni .
The importance of this book lies in the fact that it is one of the most recent books to be written in English that examines the evolution of Arabic writing and script. It is comprised of five chapters and an appendix of illustrations and portraits which illustrate the evolution of the Arabic alphabets. Also discussed is the role of the Nabataeans on this cultural achievement, which enabled the Arabic language to evolve from a spoken language into a written one.
The primary objective of this study is to track the evolution of Nabataean into Arabic by following the epigraphic evidence from the Nabataeans through the first Arabic inscription written in the late Nabataean alphabets – known as the Nimarah inscription – up to the first Hijri century. The book traces word by word, the gradual development of the late Aramaic alphabets used by the Nabataeans through the first phase of the Arabic language, long before Islam and up to the full emergence of the Arabic script.
The first chapter discusses the methodology of the study and its objectives. The second chapter contains a description of the sources for the study including the Nabataean inscriptions, pre-Islamic Arabian inscriptions and the Arabian manuscripts. The third chapter explains the evolution of the Arabic script in alphabetical order. In the final chapter the derivation of the Arabic script from that of the Nabataeans is illustrated.