Early manuscripts of the Qur'an were typically written on animal skin. We know that in the lifetime of the Prophet, parts of the revelation were written on all kinds of materials, such as bone, animal skin, palm risps, etc. The ink was prepared from soot.
All old Qur'anic script is completely without any diacritical points or vowel signs as explained above. Also there are no headings or separations between the sSras nor any other kind of division, nor even any formal indication of the end of a verse. Scholars distinguish between two types of early writing:
- Kufi, which is fairly heavy and not very dense.
- Hijazi, which is lighter, more dense and slightly inclined towards the right.
Some believe that the Hijazi is older than the Kufi, while others say that both were in use at the same time, but that Hijazi was the less formal style. [This is the view of N. Abbott: 'We can no longer draw a chronological demarcation line between what are commonly termed the Kufi and the Naskhi scripts, nor can we consider the latter as a development of the former. This ... now demands a more general recognition. Our materials show that there were two tendencies at work simultaneously, both of them natural ones' (Abbott, op. cit., p.16) . See plates 5 and 6.]
Numerous copies of the Qur'an were made after the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and the writers of these manuscripts strictly observed the autography of the 'Uthmanic Qur'an. There are, compared to the usual Arabic spelling, some peculiarities. Here are a few of them, only concerning the letters alif, yti, WtiW, by way of examples: [For more examples see Kamal, op. cit., pp.47-9; a list of these peculiarities has been provided by M. Hamidullah: 'Orthographical Peculiarities in the text of the Qur'an, in: Islamic Order, 3 (4), 1981, pp.72-86.]
The letter alif is often written on top of a letter instead of afterit, e.g XXX
The letter ya (or alif) of the word is omitted, e.g.: XXX
Some words have the letter waw in place of alif, e.g.: XXX