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Jawi (Jawi: Jăwi; Yawi in Pattanimarker) is an adapted Arabic alphabet for writing the Malay language.

Jawi is one of the two official scripts in Bruneimarker and Malaysiamarker as the script for the Malay language. Usage wise, it was the standard script for the Malay language but has since been replaced by a Roman script called Rumi, and Jawi has since been relegated to a script used for religious and cultural purposes. Day-to-day usage of Jawi is maintained in more conservative Malay-populated areas such as Pattanimarker in Thailandmarker and Kelantanmarker in Malaysia.

Introduction

The Jawi alphabet has existed since around 1300 CE in the area termed Malay Archipelago. Its development is linked with the arrival of Islam, mainly from Persian. It was adapted to suit spoken classical Malay - it is written from right to left and has 6 sounds not found in Arabic: ca pa ga nga va and nya. Many Arabic characters are never used as they are not pronounced in Malay language, and some letters are never joined and some joined obligatorily so.

The Jawi script originated from Arabic literature introduced from Persian contact with the Kingdom of Jambimarker, also called the Kingdom of Malayu, north of Palembang, Sumatera, Indonesia, where classical Malay- the root language from which modern Indonesian and Malaysian are both derived. .It is very probable those who converted to Islam, opted to use the more "Islamic" and "pious" Jawi script rather than the "infidel" or less pious language of the Hindu-derived Javanese aksara Jawa. The etymology of Jawi imply originated in Javamarker, as some scholars argue. However, as it is present, but not common in Java, it could be the case that the word Jawi was used as a catch-all term to describe those under Javanese rule or from the vague direction of Java.

The earliest archeological remains have been found on the Terengganu Inscription Stone (Batu Bersurat Terengganu), dated 1303 A.D. (702H by the Islamic calendar), whereas the earliest use of the Roman alphabet is found near the end of the 19th century. The earliest document so far discovered is the circa 1300-1399 CE romantic poem Syair Bidasari discovered in Sumatra.The region of Terengganu was known to be under the influence of Srivijaya as late as the 13th century, while the Terengganu Sultanate only dates as far back as the 18th century. This adds extra weight to the argument of Jawi originating in Jambi by the former Sriwijaya vassal kingdoms of Pasai.

The script became prominent with the spread of Islam, as the Malays found that the earlier Pallava script was totally unsuited as a vehicle to relay religious concepts. The Malays held the script in high esteem as it is the gateway to understanding Islam and its Holy Book, the Quran. The use of jawi script was a key factor driving the emergence of Malay as the lingua franca of the region, alongside the spread of Islam . It was widely used in the Sultanate of Malacca, Sultanate of Johor, Sultanate of Bruneimarker and the independent Sultanate of Achehmarker Darussalem and Sultanate of Patani in the as early as the 15th century. The jawi script was used in royal correspondences, decrees, poems and was widely understood by the merchants in the port of Malacca as the main means of communication. Early legal digests such as the Malacca Code and its derivatives including the Codes of Johor, Kedah and Brunei were written in this script. It is the medium of expression of kings, nobility and the religious scholars. It is the traditional symbol of Malay culture and civilization. jawi was used not only amongst the ruling class, but also the common people. The Islamisation of the region popularised jawi into a dominant script .

Royal correspondences for example are written, embellished and ceremoniously delivered. Examples of royal correspondences still in the good condition is the letter from Sultan Abdul Jalil IV of Johor to King Louis XV of France (1719); the letter from Sultan Iskandar Muda of Aceh to King James I of England (1615); the letter between Sultan Abdul Hayat of Ternate and King John III of Portugal (1521).

Usage of Jawi was gradually phased out throughout the 20th century, although it has never been officially banned as the Ottoman-Arabic script had been in Turkeymarker . In Indonesia, it is today seen as backward or kampungan lacking the grace, beauty and illustrious nature of Javanese .

To the Malays, there has never been any difference between using jawi or rumi. Both are scripts that have been appropriated to represent the Malay language in writing. During the colonial period, jawi still predominated throughout the Malay Archipelago, particularly in the literary and artistic domains, Islamic theology, philosophy and mysticism, commerce and trade, as well as in feudal governance and laws. Over time, with the preponderance of rumi, jawi has become primarily reserved for Malay religious discourse.

However, the Jawi script was the official script for Unfederated Malay States during British protectorate. Today, the script is used for religious and Malay cultural administration in Terengganumarker, Kelantanmarker, Kedahmarker, Perlismarker and Johormarker. Various efforts were in place to revive the Jawi script in Malaysia and Brunei due to its important role in the Malay and Islamic spheres.The Malays in Patani still use Jawi today for the same reasons .

It is worth noting a quotation by Pendeta Za’ba in the foreword of the book Panduan Membaca dan Menulis Jawi (1957):

“We should not discard or abandon the jawi script even though Malays are generally using the romanised script. This is because the jawi script belongs to us and is part of our heritage.”

Letters

Jawi alphabet
Character Isolated Initial Medial Final Name Unicode

ا     alif 0627
ب ـﺒ ـﺐ ba 0628
ت ـﺘ ـﺖ ta 062A
ة ة ـة ta marbutah 0629
ث ـﺜ ـﺚ tsa 062B
ج ـﺠ ـﺞ jim 062C
ح ـﺤ ـﺢ hha 062D
چ ـﭽ ـﭻ ca 0686
خ ـﺨ ـﺦ kha 062E
د د     ـد dal 062F
ذ     ـذ dzal 0630
ر     ـر ra 0631
ز     ـز zai 0632
س ـﺴ ـﺲ sin 0633
ش ـﺸ ـﺶ syin 0634
ص ـﺼ ـﺺ shad 0635
ض ﺿ ـﻀ ـﺾ dhad 0636
ط ـﻄ ـﻂ tho 0637
ظ ـﻈ ـﻆ zho 0638
ع ـﻌـ ـﻊ ain 0639
غ ـﻐـ ـﻎ ghain 063A
ڠ ڠ ڠـ ـڠـ ـڠ nga 06A0
ف ـﻔ ـﻒ fa 0641
ڤ ـﭭ ـﭫ pa 06A4
ق ـﻘ ـﻖ qaf 0642
ک ک ـﻜ ـک kaf 06A9
ݢ ݢ ڬـ ـڬـ ـݢ gaf 0762
ل ـﻠ ـﻞ lam 0644
م ـﻤ ـﻢ mim 0645
ن ـﻨ nun 0646
و     ـو wau 0648
ۏ ۏ     ـۏ va 06CF
ه ـﻬ ha 0647
ي ـﻴـ ya 064A
ڽ ڽ پـ ـپـ ـڽ nya 06BD
ء ء     ء hamzah 0621
أ أ ـأ alif with hamzah above 0623
إ إ ـإ alif with hamzah below 0625
ئ ئ ئـ ــئـ ـئ ye with hamzah above 0626
لا لا لا ــلا ــلا lam alif


  • Letters with no initial and middle forms adopt the isolated form, because they cannot be joined with other letter (ا، د، ذ، ر، ز، و، ۏ،ء)
  • The letter hamzah is only present in isolated form in the Malay language.


Writing Jawi on PC

To write jawi, a user basically need to have 4 components;
  • operating system
  • keyboard to write the jawi characters
  • font that have jawi characters
  • software that support right-to-left


Operating System

The operating system uses a rendering engine to render complex script. In Vista or XP, this rendering engine is %WINDIR%\system32\usp10.dll. In XP, the usp10.dll is version 1.4 and doesn't support certain jawi characters such as gaf. In Vista, the usp10.dll is version 1.61 and support all jawi characters. Thus, if you are having problem with certain jawi characters, do update your usp10.dll to the latest available version.

In Mac OS X and Linux, the rendering process is different.

Keyboard layout

There is currently no standard Jawi keyboard layout. However, many users use a modifed Arabic keyboard layout which has certain positions replaced with with Jawi characters. One such keyboard is Jawi keyboard layout. One may also create custom keyboard layouts with dedicated software, such as MSKLC for Windows.

Note that the encoding for gaf is U+0762 (ݢ), not U+06AC (ڬ). The latter has a different final form, but is better supported in fonts and therefore often used as a substitute in local publications.

Some government bodies in Malaysia are currently working toward a standard Jawi keyboard layout. This keyboard is based on the Saudi Arabian one. The proposed Jawi keyboard is available for download at ejawi.net.

Font

There are only few fonts that support the six extra characters in Jawi. Some of these are “Arabic Typesetting”, “Times New Roman”, “ Scheherazade” and “ Lateef Regular”.

Software

Most recent software supports Unicode, including right-to-left writing. This includes all major office suites.

Further reading

  • H.S. Paterson (& C.O. Blagden), 'An early Malay Inscription from 14th-century Terengganu', Journ. Mal. Br.R.A.S., II, 1924, pp. 258–263.
  • R.O. Winstedt, A History of Malaya, revised ed. 1962, p. 40.
  • J.G. de Casparis, Indonesian Paleography, 1975, p. 70-71.


  1. John U. Wolff, Indonesian Readings Edition: 3, SEAP Publications: 1988: ISBN 0877275173:480 pages
  2. Robert Leon Cooper Language spread: studies in diffusion and social change, Center for Applied Linguistics, Indiana University Press,: 1982 p. 40 ISBN 0253320003: 360 pages
  3. John U. Wolff, Indonesian Readings Edition: 3, SEAP Publications: 1988: ISBN 0877275173:480 pages: pp343
  4. Kratz, E. U. Southeast Asian Languages and Literatures: A Bibliographical Guide to Burmese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Javanese, Malay, Minangkabau, Thai and Vietnamese. London, New York: Tauris Academic Studies, 1996.
  5. R. B. Cribb, Audrey Kahin, Historical dictionary of Indonesia, Scarecrow Press: 2004: ISBN 0810849356 583 pagespp 459
  6. Hans H. Wellisch The conversion of scripts, its nature, history, and utilization: Wiley: 1978 ISBN 0471016209: 509 pages" pp95-96
  7. Ann Kumar, John H. McGlynn, Mastini Hardjoprakoso, Perpustakaan Nasional (Indonesia), Illuminations: the writing traditions of Indonesia : featuring manuscripts from the National Library of Indonesia: Weatherhill: 1996 ISBN 0834803496: 297 pages
  8. Hoevell, WR van, Sjair Bidasari: Een Oorspokelijk Malesich Gedicht, Verhandilengen van het Koninklijk Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetnschappen, 1843
  9. Bagian Kesenian Bara Ai Ksusasteraan IndonesiaL Catatan-Catatan Tentang Amir Hamza:Bagain Kesenian Kemeterian Pendidak dan Kubudayaan, Yogyakarta: 1955
  10. Ann Kumar, John H. McGlynn, Mastini Hardjoprakoso, Perpustakaan Nasional (Indonesia), Illuminations: the writing traditions of Indonesia : featuring manuscripts from the National Library of Indonesia: Weatherhill: 1996 ISBN 0834803496: 297 pages
  11. Bagian Kesenian Bara Ai Ksusasteraan IndonesiaL Catatan-Catatan Tentang Amir Hamza:Bagain Kesenian Kemeterian Pendidak dan Kubudayaan, Yogyakarta: 1955
  12. An overview of Jawi's origin in Brunei, Brunei Times article dated July 16, 2007
  13. The Legacy of Malay Letter, Annabel Teh Gallop, The British Library and Arkib Negara Malaysia, ISBN 0-7125-0376-6
  14. The Legacy of Malay Letter, Annabel Teh Gallop, The British Library and Arkib Negara Malaysia, ISBN 0-7125-0376-6
  15. Bagian Kesenian Bara Ai Ksusasteraan IndonesiaL Catatan-Catatan Tentang Amir Hamza:Bagain Kesenian Kemeterian Pendidak dan Kubudayaan, Yogyakarta: 1955
  16. http://exhibitions.nlb.gov.sg/aksara/3/gallery-3.html
  17. An overview of Jawi's origin in Brunei, Brunei Times article dated July 16, 2007
  18. http://exhibitions.nlb.gov.sg/aksara/4/gallery-4-p6.html
  19. Daftar Kata Bahasa Melayu Rumi-Sebutan-Jawi, Dewan Bahasa Pustaka, 5th printing, 2006.


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