In Arabic calligraphy, it seems to me that some characters or signs are sometimes moved in some weird place.

In this picture, for example, letter ء is moved before ا of word شاء and it looks to belong to word الله‎‎: enter image description here

In this other picture, instead, the three dots of character ش are moved away, and, again, seem to belong to word الله‎‎:

enter image description here

Is it normal/common to move those signs around, in calligraphy? Or maybe it's just my poor Arabic skill that makes me misunderstand?

Moreover, in both pictures, I notice some "strange" symbols, looking like "v", commas or apostrophes. Do those symbols have a particular role, or they just adorn the writing?

Side note: this question have been moved from Language Learning.SE.


3 Answers 3


As far as I know ,This kind of writings are not the ones used in daily language These are a kind of art that specialists draw in mosques, palaces..etc And changing the places of words is just part of making the calligraphy beautiful and artistic, It has nothing to do with semantics or syntax. Native speakers of Arabic read the phrase above normally : ما شاء الله The change of the order doesn't change anything when you read it. So you read the words in their primary order.

Some types of Arabic Calligraphy: Naskh Kufic

Symbols usually refer to vowels, but there is more than only vowels in both pictures. but I do not really know the meaning of these additional symbols.


In old manuscripts the v-shaped signs indicate that a letter is not pointed (muhmal), but in modern practice they are used merely for decoration, or rather space-filling.


Those additional symbols ("looking like "v", commas or apostrophes") have no meaning, no phonetic value, they are used just to fill the empty places, for the text to look more or less homogeneous and smooth, without gaps. That is again, the rason for using them is making the calligraphy beautiful and artistic.

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