Codex Ṣanʿāʾ: An early Qur'anic manuscript in Hijazi script (8th century AD).

Hijazi script (Arabic: خَطّ ٱَلحِجَازِيّ, romanizedkhaṭṭ al-ḥijāzī) is the collective name for several early Arabic scripts that developed in the Hejaz (the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula), a region that includes the cities of Mecca and Medina. This type of script was already in use at the time of the emergence of Islam. A calligraphic Hijazi script is called a Ma'il script (Arabic: مائل, romanizedmāʾil, lit.'sloping'); these are found in a number of the earliest Qur'anic manuscripts. The two terms are often used interchangeably.

Hijazi was one of the earliest scripts, along with Mashq and Kufic. Earlier scripts included Ancient North Arabian and the South Arabian script.

The script is notably angular in comparison with other Arabic scripts and tends to slope to the right. The script does not yet contain any dots or diacritical marks to indicate vowel sounds: but does differentiate consonants by the intermittent use of dashes above the graphic letter forms.


Ancient manuscripts are divided into two major types, Hijazi and Kufic. Kufic style also has its own subdivisions.[1] The term Hijazi was coined in the 19th century by Michele Amari, who distinguished between "Meccan script" and "Medinan script" from a 10th-century manuscript. Today, no element reinforces such a geographical distinction, and there is no clarity as to their certainty of geographic origin. Since the 1980s, the Kufic script has been referred to by François Déroche as a preference, with the definition of an "ancient Abbasid script".[2]

The concept of Hijazi script has been criticized by Estelle Whelan, who sees this definition as a "scientific artefact" based on the form of a single letter (aleph) and archaic explanations.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Cellard É., "Les manuscrits coraniques anciens", Le Coran des historiens, T.1, 2019, p. 681.
  2. ^ Cellard É., "Les manuscrits coraniques anciens", Le Coran des historiens, T.1, 2019, p. 681.
  3. ^ François Déroche, Le codex Parisino-petropolitanus, p. 113 et suiv.