Arabi Malayalam

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Arabi Malayalam
Ponnani Script
Languages Malayalam
Time period
c. 500 to the present
Parent systems

Arabi Malayalam (Malayalam: അറബി മലയാളം, Arabi Malayalam: عربِ ملیاۻم) is a writing system - a variant form of the Arabic script with special orthographic features - for writing Malayalam.[1][2] Though this originated in the south Indian region of the Malabar, today the script is mainly used in Malaysia and Singapore by the migrant Muslim community.[3]

Arabi Malayalam is also used to teach Malayalam in primary education madrasahs in the State of Kerala and Union Territory of Lakshadweep,[4] until the 20th century, the script was widely taught to all Muslims in Kerala, including girls. Most of the Mappila Songs are written, for the first time, in Arabi-Malayalam script, the earliest known such work is the Muhyidheen Mala, written in 1607.[3][5]

Malayalam Arabi Malayalam IPA
ژ ɻ
پ p
گ ɡ
Arabi Malayalam alphabet with Malayalam alphabet correspondences

There were many complications to write Malayalam, a Dravidian language, using letters covering Arabic, a Semitic language. Only 28 letters were available from Arabic orthography to render over 53 phonemes of Malayalam, it was overcome by following the pattern of creating additional letters established for Persian.[7] The letters such as pa, gha, kha, ṅa, ña, ḻa, ga, ca were not available in the Arabic alphabets. The characters which stand for ḻa, ca, pa, ga (ഴ, ച, പ, ഗ) are ژ, چ, پ, گ‎ respectively in Arabi Malayalam.

അ = اَ
ആ = ا
ഇ = اِ
ഈ = اِى
ഉ = اُ
ഊ = اُو
ഋ = رْ
എ = اٝ
ഏ = اٝى
ഐ = ايْ
ഒ = اٗ
ഓ = اٗو
ഔ = اَوْ
ക് = ك
ഖ് = كه
ഗ് = گ
ഘ് = گه
ങ് = ۼ
ച് = چ
ഛ് = چه
ജ് = ج
ഝ് = جه
ഞ് = ڿ
ട് = ڊ
ഠ് = ڊه
ഡ് = ڌ
ഢ് = ڌه
ണ് = ڹ
ത് = ت
ഥ് = ته
ദ് = د
ധ് = ده
ന് = ن
പ് = پ
ഫ് = په
ബ് = ب
ഭ് = به
മ് = م
യ് = ي
ര് = ڔ
റ് = ر
ല് = ل
വ് = و
ള് = ۻ
ശ് = ش
ഷ് = ۺ
സ് = س
ഹ് = ه
ഴ് = ڎ
റ്റ് = ڔّ

An Arabi Malayalam newspaper called "Al Bayan newspaper" (March 1930)

A large number of literary works written in Arabi Malayalam still have not been transliterated to the Malayalam script, and some estimates put the number at almost 90 percent, these works, romantic ballads, folk tales and battle songs, contain some of the impressive literary achievements by Mappilas over the centuries.[1]

The first Arabi Malayalam scripted novel, Chahar Dervesh, Malaylam translation of a Persian work, was published in 1883.[8] Intellectuals such as Moyinkutty Vaidyar translated, and then transliterated significant number of works in Sanskrit - such as Ashtanga Hridaya, Amarakosa, Pancatantra and even the legends about the Hindu king Vikramaditya - into Arabi Malayalam.[9] Sanskrit medical texts - such as Upakarasara, Yogarambha and Mahasara - were also translated, and then transliterated into Arabi-Malayalam by scholars like Abdurahiman Musaliar of Ponnani Putiyakattu.[9] Arabi Malayalam script periodicals made remarkable contributions to the reform movement amongst the Mappilas in the early 20th century. Al-Irshad, published in 1923 by the Muslim Aikya Sangham played an important role in explaining the doctrines of Islam to the common Mappila and distinguishing between what the reformers called religious practices and "superstitions".[10]

Arabi-Malayalam still used as a medium of primary education madrasahs by Samastha Kerala Islam Matha Vidhyabhyasa Board and Samasatha Kerala Sunni Vidyabhyasa board in the Malabar region of Kerala.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Miller, Roland. E., "Mappila" in "The Encyclopedia of Islam". Volume VI. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 1987. pp. 458-56.
  2. ^ Malayalam Resource Centre [1]
  3. ^ a b National Virtual Translation Center - Arabic script for malayalam [2]
  4. ^ "Arabi Malayalam in Lakshadweep". 
  5. ^ Menon. T. Madhava. "A Handbook of Kerala, Volume 2", International School of Dravidian Linguistics, 2002. pp. 491-493.
  6. ^ Arabi-Malayalam - "E-Malabari" [3]
  7. ^ Arabi-Malayalam - "E-Malabari" [4]
  8. ^ Sharafudeen, S. "Muslims of Kerala: a Modern Approach, "Kerala Historical Society, 2003. pp. 152
  9. ^ a b "Malayalam Literary Survey", Volume 16 (1) -17 (4), Kēraḷa Sāhitya Akkādami, 1994. pp. 88
  10. ^ "Journal of Kerala Studies", Volume 17, University of Kerala, 1990. pp. 134
  11. ^ Samastha (Official Website) [5]

External links[edit]