Arabi Malayalam
Ponnani Script
Script type
Time period
c. 500 to the present
Related scripts
Parent systems
 This article contains phonetic transcriptions in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA. For the distinction between [ ], / / and ⟨ ⟩, see IPA § Brackets and transcription delimiters.

Arabi Malayalam script (Malayalam: അറബി-മലയാളം, Arabi Malayalam: عَرَبِ مَلَیَاۻَمٛ), also known as Ponnani script,[1][2][3] is a writing system — a variant form of the Arabic script with special orthographic features — for writing Arabi Malayalam, a Dravidian language in southern India.[4][5] Though the script originated and developed in Kerala, today it is predominantly used in Malaysia and Singapore by the migrant Muslim community.[citation needed]

Until the 20th century, the script was widely taught to all Muslims in the primary education madrasahs of Kerala.[6] Arabi-Malayalam is currently used in some of the primary education madrasahs of Kerala and Lakshadweep.[7][8]


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.[9] 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 گ ,پ ,چ ,ژ respectively in Arabi Malayalam.

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


അ = اَ
ആ = آ
ഇ = اِ
ഈ = اِی
ഉ = اُ
ഊ = اُو
ഋ = رْ
എ = اٝ
ഏ = اٝی
ഐ = اَيْ
ഒ = اٗ
ഓ = اٗو
ഔ = اَوْ
അം = اَمْ


ക = ك/ک
ഖ = كھ
ഗ = گ
ഘ = گھ
ങ = ڠ
ച = چ
ഛ = چھ
ജ = ج
ഝ = جھ
ഞ = ڃ
ട = ڊ
ഠ = ڊھ
ഡ = ڗ
ഢ = ڗھ
ണ = ڹ
ത = ت
ഥ = تھ
ദ = د
ധ = دھ
ന = ن
പ = پ
ഫ = پھ/ف
ബ = ب
ഭ = بھ
മ = م
യ = ي
ര = ڔ
ല = ل
വ = و
ശ = ش
ഷ = ښ
സ = س
ഹ = ھ/ﮭ
ള = ۻ
ഴ = ژ
റ = ر
റ്റ/ഺ = ڔّ


Most of the Mappila Songs were written, for the first time, in Arabi-Malayalam script. The earliest known such work is the Muhyidheen Mala, written in 1607.[6]

Copy of the first book in Arabi-Malayalam called "Muhyadheen Mala"

Many 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.[4]

The first Arabi Malayalam scripted novel, Chahar Dervesh, Malayalam translation of a Persian work, was published in 1883.[11] 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.[12] 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.[12] Arabi Malayalam script periodicals made remarkable contributions to the reform movement amongst the Mappilas in the early 20th century.

See also


  1. ^ Kunnath, Ammad (15 September 2015). "The rise and growth of Ponnani from 1498 AD To 1792 AD". Department of History. hdl:10603/49524. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Panakkal, Abbas (2016). Islam in Malabar (1460-1600) : a socio-cultural study /. Kulliyyah Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia. Archived from the original on 27 May 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  3. ^ Kallen, hussain Randathani. "TRADE AND CULTURE: INDIAN OCEAN INTERACTION ON THE COAST OF MALABAR IN MEDIEVAL PERIOD". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b Miller, Roland. E., "Mappila" in "The Encyclopedia of Islam". Volume VI. E. J. Brill, Leiden. 1987. pp. 458-56.
  5. ^ "Malayalam Resource Centre". Archived from the original on 12 September 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  6. ^ a b Menon. T. Madhava. "A Handbook of Kerala, Volume 2", International School of Dravidian Linguistics, 2002. pp. 491-493.
  7. ^ "Arabi Malayalam in Lakshadweep". Archived from the original on 5 October 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2008.
  8. ^ "SAMASTHA – Samastha Kerala Jem-iyyathul Ulama |". Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  9. ^ "THE ARABI - MALAYALAM SCRIPTURE". 18 March 2008. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  10. ^ "THE ARABI - MALAYALAM SCRIPTURE". 18 March 2008. Archived from the original on 18 March 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  11. ^ Sharafudeen, S. "Muslims of Kerala: a Modern Approach, "Kerala Historical Society, 2003. pp. 152
  12. ^ a b "Malayalam Literary Survey", Volume 16 (1) -17 (4), Kēraḷa Sāhitya Akkādami, 1994. pp. 88