This page proposes a guideline regarding the use of Arabic words on the English Wikipedia.

On the English Wikipedia, Arabic is rendered into Latin script according to one of four methods in order of decreasing preference:

  1. Common English translation
  2. Common transcription
  3. Basic transcription
  4. Strict transliteration

The transliteration of Arabic used by Wikipedia is based on the ALA-LC romanization method, with a few simple changes that make it easier to read and manage in compliance with the main Manual of Style. The strict transliteration uses accents, underscores, and underdots, and is only used for etymology, usually alongside the original Arabic. All other cases of Arabic script romanization will use the same standard, but without accents, underscores, and underdots. Some exceptions to this rule may apply.



In general, as specified on WP:English, a common English translation takes precedence over other methods to represent Arabic. This convention deals with the cases in which no common English translation is available. For the purposes of this convention, an Arabic word is defined as a name or phrase that is most commonly originally rendered in the Arabic script, and that in English is not usually translated into a common English word. These could be in any language that uses this script, such as Arabic, Persian, or Ottoman Turkish.

Examples of Arabic script rendered into Latin:

Examples of titles not transliterated from Arabic script:

Common transcription

A word or name has a common transcription[a] (anglicization) if a large majority of references in English use the same transcription or if a reliable source shows that an individual self-identifies with a particular transcription. Non-printable characters (including underscores) should be avoided.

Examples of references include the Oxford Dictionary, the FBI, the NY Times, CNN, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Encarta, Britannica, the Library of Congress, and other academic sources. Examples of self-identification include a driver's license or passport in which the individual personally chose a particular form of transcription.

Google searches can be useful in determining the most common usage, but should not be heavily relied upon. The content of large searches may not be relevant to the subject being discussed or may misrepresent the figures due to the use in languages other than English. For example, the ISO transliteration (ISO 233) of القائم is "al-Qāʾim", but the transcription "al-Qaim" receives five times as many hits. This word is used in the names of three historical Caliphs and a town in Iraq, and is also another name for the Mahdi in Shia Islam. Since Google searches do not discriminate between them, other sources must be used to determine if a common transcription exists for any particular usage. Google search counts are also biased toward syndicated news articles: a single syndicated reference may generate hundreds or thousands of hits, amplifying the weight of whatever spelling happens to be used by that one reference.

If there is no common transcription, a basic transcription is used (see below).


Note: the Arabic word بن/ابن (English: son of) should be transcribed ibn unless a common transcription requires the colloquial bin.

Basic transcription

The basic transcription[b] uses a systematic convention of rendering Arabic scripts. The basic transcription from Arabic to Roman letters is found below.

The basic transcription does not carry enough information to accurately write or pronounce the original Arabic script. For example, it does not differentiate between certain pairs of similar letters (e.g. س sīn vs. ص ṣād), or between long and short vowels. It does, however, increase the readability of the article to those not familiar with Arabic transliteration, and avoids characters that may be unreadable to browsers. This transcription method can be seen as a compromise between strict transliteration and Wikipedia conventions.

Strict transliteration

A strict transliteration is completely reversible, allowing the original writing to be faithfully restored. A strict transliteration need not be a 1:1 mapping of characters as long as there are clear rules for choosing one character over another. A source character may be mapped (1:n) into a sequence of several target characters without losing sequential reversibility.

A strict transliteration uses a system of accents, underscores, and underdots to render the original Arabic in a form that preserves all the information in the original Arabic.

ALA-LC romanization is most commonly used for this purpose; other common transliteration standards include ISO 233 and DIN 31635.

Note that several letters proposed in the strict transliteration system below do not render correctly for some widespread software configurations (e.g. ḥ, ṣ, ḍ, ṭ, ṛ, and ẓ). Using the ((transl)) template to enclose transliterations allows CSS classes to address these issues.


Arabic Common Basic Strict
القاهرة Cairo al-Qahira al-Qāhira
السلف الصالح Salaf as-Salaf as-Salih al-Salaf al-Ṣāliḥ
الظاهر بيبرس Baibars al-Zahir Baybars al-Ẓāhir Baybars
العبّاسيّون Abbasid al-Abbasiyyun al-ʿAbbāsiyyūn
كربلاء Karbala Karbala' Karbalāʾ
محمد n/a Muhammad Muḥammad
القاعدة al-Qaeda al-Qa'ida al-Qāʿida

Article titles and redirects[edit]

Article titles

Article titles should conform to WP:CRITERIA. Rules of thumb that will work in most cases:

  1. Use the translation or transcription that is most often used in English-language reliable sources (WP:COMMONNAME principle).
    Example: Henna
  2. When there are several forms that occur often in English-language reliable sources, and for those that are used most often it is unclear which one outdoes the others in usage, choose among these the one that is closest to the basic transcription.
    Example: Jinn (not Djinn nor Genies)
  3. In all other cases use the basic transcription.
    Example: Jabir ibn Aflah
  4. Stay within the constraints of WP:TITLESPECIALCHARACTERS.
    Example: Na'im ibn Musa (not Na‘im ibn Musa)

Choosing an article title that diverts from the above rules of thumb can only be done with a consensus that the alternative article title conforms better to WP:CRITERIA, and when all applicable redirects are in place.

Example: Thābit ibn Qurra


All frequently occurring name variants, including transcriptions and transliterations, should redirect to the article. There will often be many redirects, but this is intentional and does not represent a problem.

Article text[edit]

Lead paragraph

All articles with Arabic titles should have a lead paragraph which includes the article title, along with the original Arabic script and the strict transliteration in parentheses, preferably in the lead sentence. This is in accordance with the official Wikipedia policy at WP:ENGLISH. Many articles that are missing this information are listed at Category:Articles needing Arabic script or text. Arabic script is used in combination with the ((lang-ar)) or ((lang|ar)) template, while the strict transliteration is written using ((transl)). A combination of the ((lang-ar)) and ((transl)) templates can also be represented by ((lang-ar)):

The standard format, with, pursuant to ((transl)), the transliteration system indicated, is given in the following examples:

Some cases will require variations on this format. If the name is extremely long, the first appearance of the name is suitable to provide the strict transliteration. Likewise, if a strict transliteration appears overly repetitious, it should be in place of the page title in the lead paragraph.


Main text and general usage

As with the convention for titles, common English translations should be used as much as possible. Likewise, if these are not available, one should first try a common transcription before resorting to the basic transcription. Strict transliterations in the main text should only be used out of necessity, e.g. explanations in linguistic texts or articles about transliterating.

Clash with wiki markup

Words ending with ayn or a hamza are transcribed with an apostrophe at the end. This can cause a problem if the word is at the end of an italicized or bold text. In order to prevent the final apostrophe from being interpreted as wiki markup '' and ''', use ((`)).

Example: ''Karbala((`))'' for Karbala'.

Collation in alphabetical order[edit]



Further information: Romanization of Arabic

The strict transliteration presented below is based on the ALA-LC Romanization method (1997), and standards from the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names. It also includes some alternative symbols adopted in ISO 233 and DIN 31635, which are used by such sources as the Encyclopedia of Islam, and are available in the Arabic tab of the default Wikipedia editor.

The basic transcription is a simplified version.[discuss]


Arabic Name Basic
ب bā’ b
ت tā’ t
ث thā’ th the sequence ته is optionally written ⟨t′h⟩ in ALA-LC Arabic romanization
ج jīm j/g g is usually in contemporary articles pertaining to Egypt or Egyptian Arabic or when a word is spelled with ج but pronounced /ɡ/ as advised by romanization schemes (ALA-LC, DIN, and UN).
ح ḥā’ h
خ khā’ kh the sequence كه is optionally written ⟨k′h⟩ in ALA-LC Arabic romanization
د dāl d
ذ dhāl dh the sequence ده is optionally written ⟨d′h⟩ in ALA-LC Arabic romanization
ر rā’ r
ز zāy z
س sīn s
ش shīn sh the sequence سه is optionally written ⟨s′h⟩ in ALA-LC Arabic romanization
ص ṣād s
ض ḍād d
ط ṭā’ t
ظ ẓā’ z
ع ‘ayn ' or ʿ When using basic transcription, it is omitted in the initial position.[1]
غ ghayn gh
ف fā’ f
ق qāf q
ك kāf k
ل lām l
م mīm m
ن nūn n
ه hā’ h
ء hamza ' or ʾ It is omitted in the initial position both when using basic transcription and when using strict transliteration.[2]
ة tā’ marbūṭa a or ah or at a or ah or at usually as a or ah (ALA-LC), but sometimes as at (in construct case).[3]
و wāw w See also long vowels
ي ya’ y See also long vowels
‏◌ِيّ (yā’) i or iyy ī, īy or iyy romanized īy (ALA-LC) or iyy except in final position[4]
آ alif madda a, 'a[5] ’ā, ā, or ʾā Initially ā, medially; ’ā (ALA-LC) or ʾā (depending on which one is used for hamza)
Notes from the ALA-LC specifications
  1. ^ Rule 8(a): "In initial position, whether at the beginning of a word, following a prefixed preposition or conjunction, or following the definite article, ء is not represented in romanization. When medial or final, ء is romanized." In basic transcriptions, the same applies to ‘ayn and consonantal alif.
  2. ^ Rule 8(a): "In initial position, whether at the beginning of a word, following a prefixed preposition or conjunction, or following the definite article, ء is not represented in romanization. When medial or final, ء is romanized." In basic transcriptions, the same applies to ‘ayn and consonantal alif.
  3. ^ Rule 7: "When the word ending in ة is in the construct state, ة is romanized t. ... When the word ending in ة is used adverbially, ة (vocalized ةً) is romanized tan."
  4. ^ Rule 11(b)(2): "Final ‏◌ِيّ is romanized ī."


Arabic Name Basic
fatḥa a
ḍamma u
kasra i
064E 0627
fatḥa alif a ā
064E 0649
fatḥa alif maqṣūra a ā (DIN) or á (ALA-LC)
064F 0648
ḍamma wāw u ū
0650 064A
kasra yāʾ i ī

Definite article

Romanizing the Arabic definite article is usually preferred unassimilated.

ت t
ث th
د d
ذ dh
ر r
ز z
س s
ش sh
ص s
ض d
ط t
ظ z
ل l
ن n

Arabic has only one definite article (الـ al-). However, if it is followed by a solar letter (listed in the table right), the "L" is assimilated in pronunciation with this solar letter and the solar letter is doubled.


Both the non-assimilated (al-) or the assimilated (ad-) form appear in various standards of transliteration. Choose one and use it consistently throughout the article.

"Al-" and its variants (ash-, ad-, ar-, etc.) are always written in lower case, also when forming part of proper nouns, except when beginning a sentence. It is always separated from the following word (which takes the upper case when it is a proper noun) by a hyphen.


Dynastic Al

See also: Arabic grammar § Dynasty or family

Some people, especially in the region of Arabia, when they are descended from a famous ancestor, start their last name with آل āl /ʔaːl/, a noun meaning "family" or "clan", like the dynasty Al Saud (family of Saud) or Al ash-Sheikh (family of the Sheikh). آل āl /ʔaːl/ is distinct from the definite article ال al- /al/.

Arabic meaning transcription IPA example
ال the al- /al/ Maytham al-Tammar
آل family/clan of āl /ʔaːl/ Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
أهل tribe/people of ahl /ʔahl/ Ahl al-Bayt


Rules for the capitalization of English should be followed, except for the definite article, as explained above.


Main article: Arabic name

The basic transcription of Arabic names comprises a variation on the following structure:

Note: the Arabic particle بن (English: son of) should be transcribed ibn unless a common transcription requires the colloquial form bin (e.g. Osama bin Laden)

If Abū is preceded by ibn, the correct grammatical format is ibn Abī, not ibn Abū.


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Persian)

When the Arabic script was adopted for the Persian language, there were letters pronounced in Persian which did not have a representation in the Arabic alphabet, and vice versa. The Persian alphabet adds letters to the Arabic alphabet, and changes the pronunciation of some Arabic letters. In addition, Persian does not use a definite article (al-).


Urdu adds additional letters, and some existing letters are transliterated differently. The strict transliteration is based on the ALA-LC Romanization method for Urdu (2012). The basic transcription is the same for the additional letters, but without accents, underscores and underdots. All letters in common with Arabic should likewise follow the Arabic transcription and/or translation conventions.


Urdu Basic
ب b b
پ p p
ت t t
ٹ t
ث s "s", combining macron below: s̱
ج j j
چ ch c
ح h
خ kh k͟h "k", combining double macron below, "h": k͟h
د d d
ڈ d
ذ z
ر r r
ڑ r
ز z z
ژ zh zh
س s s
ش sh sh
ص s
ض z
ط t "t", combining diaeresis below: t̤
ظ z "z", combining diaeresis below: z̤
ع ' or or ʿ or ʿ The apostrophe should only be used if it appears in a common transcription; it is omitted in the initial position.
غ gh g͟h "g", combining double macron below, "h": g͟h
ف f f
ق q q
ک k k
گ g g
ل l l
م m m
ن n n
ں n
و w or v w or v
ه h h
ة t t
ء ' or
ی y y


Urdu Basic
بھ bh bh
پھ ph ph
تھ th th
ٹھ th ṭh
جھ jh jh
چھ chh ch
دھ dh dh
ڈھ dh ḍh
ڑھ rh ṛh
کھ kh kh
گھ gh gh


Vowels Basic Trans. Strict Trans.
◌َ a a
◌ِ i i
◌ُ u u
‏◌َا a ā
‏◌َی‏◌َیٰ a á
‏◌ِی i ī
‏◌ُو u ū
‏◌و o o
‏◌ی‏◌ے e e
‏◌َوْ au au
‏◌ے ai ai

Ottoman Turkish[edit]

The Ottoman Turkish language differs from the above languages in that, since 1928, words that were once written with a Persian-influenced version of the Arabic abjad have been written using the Latin alphabet. As such, there is a long established set of standards for writing the language in a basic transcription; however, in a strict transliteration, the language adheres closely to the standards for strict transliteration described above.

Guidelines for writing Ottoman Turkish words according to the basic transcription can be found at the website of the Turkish Language Association (Türk Dil Kurumu): here for the majority of words, and here for names of people.

In the following table, only those letters which differ in either their strict transliteration or their basic transcription from the Arabic-oriented table above are shown; all others are transliterated according to that table.

Script Basic transcr. Strict translit. IPA Notes
ا a, â, e ā, e [ɑ:], [e] This represents a, â, or e in initial position, and â in medial or final position.
آ a, â ā [ɑ:] This is only written in initial position.
ث s [s]
ج c, ç c [dʒ], [tʃ] When choosing between c and ç in the basic transcription, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
چ ç ç [tʃ]
خ h [h]
ذ z [z]
ژ j j [ʒ]
ش ş ş [ʃ]
ض z, d ż, [z], [d] When choosing between ż and in the strict transliteration, and z and d in the basic transcription, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
ع a, 'a, ', â ‘a, ‘ā, [ɑ], [ɑ:], ø
غ g, ğ ġ [ɣ], [g], [k], [h] When choosing between g and ğ in the basic transcription, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
ق k [k]
ك k, g, ğ, n k, g, ñ [k], [n], [ɲ], [ŋ] When choosing between k, g, ğ, and n in the basic transcription, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
گ g, ğ g [g], [k] When choosing between g and ğ in the basic transcription, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
ڭ n ñ [n], [ɲ], [ŋ]
ه h, e, a, i h, e, a, i [h], [ɑ], [e], [i] When choosing between e and a in the transliteration, the Turkish rules of vowel harmony should be followed. This is only transliterated as h at the end of a word in proper nouns.
ء ', ø ø
و v, o, ö, u, ü v, o, ō, ö, u, ū, ü [v], [o], [o:], [œ], [u], [u:], [y] When making the transliteration, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
ی y, i, ı, a y, i, ī, ı, ā [j], [i], [i:], [ɯ], [ej], [ɑ:] When making the transliteration, modern Turkish orthography should be followed.
لا la, lâ [lɑ:]
ة et et [et]

Definite article

In words that use the Arabic definite article ال, the article always follows the assimilation of solar letters. However, the vowel ا can be transliterated in a number of ways.

  1. For a definite article in initial position, the definite article is written as el- in both the basic and the strict renderings; e.g. الوهاب el-Vehhāb, الرمضان er-Ramażān.
  2. For a definite article in medial position, such as is found in many names of Arabic origin, the vowel in the strict transliteration can be written in a variety of ways; e.g. u’l, ü’l, i’l, ’l, etc. In such cases, the diacritic representing the hamza or ‘ayin (i.e. or ) is always used, and the choice of vowel should follow modern Turkish orthography; e.g. عبد الله ‘Abdu’llah', عبد العزيز ‘Abdü’l-‘Azīz, بالخاصه bi’l-ḫaṣṣa.
  3. For a definite article in medial position in the basic transcription, is not used, and the choice of vowel and spelling should follow modern Turkish orthography; e.g. عبد الله Abdullah, عبد العزيز Abdülâziz, بالخاصه bilhassa.


  1. ^ Previously known as Primary transcription
  2. ^ Previously known as Standard transcription

External links[edit]