This transliteration system was created by combining two other systems: that of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, and the Qalam system developed by Abdelsalam Heddaya of Boston University ( An advantage of the transliteration system used by the Encyclopaedia of Islam over other systems is that it was designed to work not only with Arabic, but also with Persian, Ottoman Turkish and Urdu. The advantage of the Qalam system is that it uses only ASCII 7-bit characters, substituting upper-case Latin letters for those Arabic characters which in other systems are usually transliterated by Latin characters with diacritical marks.

The principle followed in combining the two systems was simply to change every character in the Encyclopaedia of Islam system that included a diacritic (usually a dot under the character or a macron above it) into the corresponding upper-case letter. Two other changes were also made. On the principle that one-letter transliterations are better than two-letter transliterations, j has been used for jIm instead of dj, and, on the principle that fewer upper-case letters would be better than more, q has been used for qAf instead of upper-case K.

A copy of the Qalam system of transliteration may be obtained from the web site of the American Arab Scientific Society:

A .gif file of the Encyclopaedia of Islam system may be found at:

Nicholas Heer




alif lAm        al-, 'l- (definite article)
hamzah          ' (left out when initial)
bA'             b
pA'             p
tA'             t
tA' marbUTah    ah, at (when muDAf)
thA'            th
jIm             j
chIm            ch
HA'             H
khA'            kh
dAl             d
dhAl            dh
rA'             r
zA' or zAy      z
zhA'            zh
sIn             s
shIn            sh
SAd             S
DAd             D
TA'             T
ZA'             Z
`ayn            `
ghayn           gh
fA'             f
qAf             q
kAf             k
gAf             g
lAm             l
mIm             m
nUn             n
hA'             h
wAw             w
yA'             y

Short vowels:

fatHah          a
kasrah          i
Dammah          u

fatHah tanwIn   an
kasrah tanwIn   in
Dammah tanwIn   un

Long vowels:

fatHah + alif   A
kasrah + yA'    I, iyy (medial kasrah + yA' mushaddah)
Dammah + wAw    U, uww (medial Dammah + wAw mushaddah)
alif MaqSUrah   A


fatHah + wAw    aw
fatHah + yA'    ay


bismi 'l-llAhi 'l-raHmAni 'l-raHIm
al-Hamdu li-'l-llAhi rabbi 'l-`AlamIn
al-raHmAni 'l-raHIm
mAliki yawmi al-dIn
iyyAka na`budu wa-iyyAka nasta`In
ihdinA 'l-SirATa 'l-mustaqIm
SirATa 'l-ladhIna an`amta `alayhim
ghayri 'l-maghDUbi `alayhim wa-lA 'l-DAllIn