Oman unveils world's first interactive calligraphic Quran
16 Jun 2017 - 1:50
Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman this week unveiled the world’s first interactive calligraphic electronic Quran.
The Electronic Mushaf Muscat Calligraphy Project was developed by specialists from Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Lebanon and is available for desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones.
It works on all operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
No applications are needed, but a web browser that allows users to reach the site can be found at https://mushafmuscat.om. The website allows users to add swashes, colouring or rotating diacritics, switch between different heading styles, and select alternative ligatures.
An interface enables users to tweak the typographic features used for the naskh text, a design based on the analysis of five centuries of Ottoman manual text production, while the project’s most striking aspect is its word-shaping feature.
Construction of the web-based Quran started in 2013, when Scalable Vector Graphics, a lightweight image format for new computer typography, gained general acceptance.
Chapter headings are written in the 8th-century Kufic style, based on 148 coloured photographs taken in 1984 by Gerd-Rüdiger Puin, a German scholar on Quranic historical orthography (the study and interpretation of ancient manuscripts). Puin catalogued some 30,000 Quran fragments discovered in 1965 following an earthquake in Sana'a. He sent his 148 colour slides to Thomas Milo, a Dutch linguist specialised in Arabic script. Milo is a partner at DecoType, an outfit that has worked on Arabic script technology since 1982. DecoType developed the computer typography for the first truly virtual Quran, available as a web-interface.
The Electronic Mushaf Muscat Project is based on Unicode, the industry standard for global text interchange. “Without compromising the text in any way, the Quran is now beautifully represented in digital form, using Unicode characters,” Mark E Davis, president of the Unicode Consortium, which provides characters for world languages on electronic devices, said.
The government of Oman is one of a small number of governments that are members of the Unicode Consortium. Most consortium members are major technology companies, such as Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Netflix, Oracle and SAP.
Oman’s minister of endowments and religious affairs, Sheikh Abdallah bin Mohammad bin Abdullah as-Salimi, has supported and financed the project’s development.
Oman hopes to become a world leader in electronic calligraphic Quran production. The minister, for his part, hopes to reconcile Islamic civilization and state-of-the-art technology.