Rasm is an Arabic writing script often used in the early centuries of Arabic literature (7th century - early 11th century AD). Essentially it is the same as today's Arabic script except for the big difference that dots and dashes (the i‘jām pointing) are omitted. In rasm, the five distinct letters ـبـ ـتـ ـثـ ـنـ ـيـ are indistinguishable because all the dots are omitted. It is also known as Arabic skeleton script.


In the early Arabic manuscripts that survive today (physical manuscripts dated 7th and 8th centuries AD), one finds dots but "putting dots was in no case compulsory".[1] Some manuscripts have no dots at all, while others add dots only sparingly and only in phrase contexts where the scribe thinks the omission of dotting on a word would leave the meaning ambiguous.

Rasm (Arabic: رَسْم) means 'drawing', 'outline', or 'pattern' in Arabic. When speaking of the Qur'an, it stands for the basic text made of the 18 letters without the Arabic diacritics which mark vowels (tashkīl) and disambiguate consonants (i‘jām).


The rasm is the oldest part of the Arabic script; it has 18 elements, excluding the ligature of lām and alif. When isolated and in the final position, the 18 letters are visually distinct. However, in the initial and medial positions, certain letters that are distinct otherwise are not differentiated visually. This results in only 15 visually distinct glyphs each in the initial and medial positions.

Name Final Medial Initial Isolated Rasm
Final Medial Initial Isolated Code point
ʾalif ـا ـا ا ا ـا ـا ا ا U+0627
Bāʾ ـب ـبـ بـ ب ـٮ ـٮـ ٮـ ٮ U+066E
Tāʾ ـت ـتـ تـ ت
Ṯāʾ ـث ـثـ ثـ ث
Nūn ـن ـنـ نـ ن ـں ـںـ ںـ ں U+06BA[a]
Yāʾ ـي ـيـ يـ ي ـى ـىـ ىـ ى U+0649
Alif maqṣūrah ـى ى
Ǧīm ـج ـجـ جـ ج ـح ـحـ حـ ح U+062D
Ḥāʾ ـح ـحـ حـ ح
Ḫāʾ ـخ ـخـ خـ خ
Dāl ـد ـد د د ـد ـد د د U+062F
Ḏāl ـذ ـذ ذ ذ
Rāʾ ـر ـر ر ر ـر ـر ر ر U+0631
Zayn / Zāy ـز ـز ز ز
Sīn ـس ـسـ سـ س ـس ـسـ سـ س U+0633
Šīn ـش ـشـ شـ ش
Ṣād ـص ـصـ صـ ص ـص ـصـ صـ ص U+0635
Ḍād ـض ـضـ ضـ ض
Ṭāʾ ـط ـطـ طـ ط ـط ـطـ طـ ط U+0637
Ẓāʾ ـظ ـظـ ظـ ظ
ʿayn ـع ـعـ عـ ع ـع ـعـ عـ ع U+0639
Ġayn ـغ ـغـ غـ غ
Fāʾ ـف ـفـ فـ ف ـڡ ـڡـ ڡـ ڡ U+06A1
Qāf ـق ـقـ قـ ق ـٯ ـٯـ ٯـ ٯ U+066F
Kāf ـك ـكـ كـ ك ـڪ ـڪـ ڪـ ڪ U+06AA
Lām ـل ـلـ لـ ل ـل ـلـ لـ ل U+0644
Mīm ـم ـمـ مـ م ـم ـمـ مـ م U+0645
Hāʾ ـه ـهـ هـ ه ـه ـهـ هـ ه U+0647
Tāʾ marbūṭah ـة ة
Wāw ـو ـو و و ـو ـو و و U+0648
Lām + alif ـلا ـلا لا لا ـلا ـلا لا لا U+0644 + U+0627
Hamzah ء ء ء ء (None)[b]

  • ^a This character may not display correctly in some fonts. The dot should not appear in all four positional forms and the initial and medial forms should join with following character. In other words the initial and medial forms should look exactly like those of a dotless bāʾ while the isolated and final forms should look like those of a dotless nūn.
  • ^b There is no hamzah in rasm writing, including hamzah-on-the-line (i.e., hamzah between letters).

Digital example

Compare the Basmala, the beginning verse of the Qurʾān with all diacritics and with the rasm only. Note that when rasm is written with spaces, spaces do not only occur between words. Within a word, spaces also appear between adjacent letters that are not connected, and this type of rasm is old and not used lately.

With i‘jām and all diacritics[c]
بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيْمِ
Rasm only[d] ٮسما‌لل‍هالرحمںالرحىم
Rasm with spaces[d] ٮسم‌‌ ا لل‍ه ا لر حمں‌ ا لر حىم

  • ^c The sentence may not display correctly in some fonts. It appears as it should if one of the fonts Scheherazade or Lateef is installed.
  • ^d This sentence may not display correctly in some fonts. It appears properly with Scheherazade, Lateef, or DejaVu Sans.

Historical example

The Kufic Samarkand Qurʾan that was from 1869 to 1917 in St. Petersburg shows almost only rasm: Sura 7 (Al-Aʿaraf), verses 86 & 87, of the Samarkand Qur'an, written in unadorned rasm.

Samarkand Qur'anDigital rasm with spacesDigital rasmCurrent
ا لل‍ه مں ا مں ٮه و ٮٮعو الل‍ه مں امں ٮه وٮٮعو اللَّهِ مَنْ آمَنَ بِهِ وَتَبْغُو
ٮها عو حا و ا د ٮها عوحا واد نَهَا عِوَجًا وَاذْ
كر و ا ا د كٮٮم كروا اد كٮٮم كُرُوا إِذْ كُنْتُم
ڡلٮلا ڡكٮر كم ڡلٮلا ڡكٮركم قَلِيلا فَكَثَّرَكُمْ
و ا ٮطر وا كٮڡ واٮطروا كٮڡ وَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ
كا ں عڡٮه ا لمڡسد كاں عاڡٮه المڡسد كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُفْسِدِ
ٮں ڡر و ا ں كا ں طا ٮں ڡر واں كاں طا ين٨٧ وَإِنْ كَانَ طَا
ٮڡه مٮكم ا مٮو ا ٮڡه مٮكم امٮوا ئِفَةٌ مِنْكُمْ آمَنُوا
ٮالد ى ا ر سلٮ ٮالدى ارسلٮ بِالَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ
ٮه و طا ٮڡه لم ٮو ٮه وطاٮڡه لم ٮو بِهِ وَطَائِفَةٌ لَمْ يُؤْ
مٮو ا ڡا صٮر و ا مٮوا ڡاصٮروا مِنُوا فَاصْبِرُوا
حٮى ٮحكم ا لل‍ه ٮٮٮٮا حٮى ٮحكم الل‍ه ٮٮٮٮا حَتَّى يَحْكُمَ اللَّهُ بَيْنَنَا

See also


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