The Sultanate of Oman has made a major leap with the recent unveiling of the interactive electronic calligraphic Holy Quran. Supported and financed by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs under Shaikh Abdullah bin Mohammed al Salmy, the Muscat e-Quran was developed by specialists from Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Lebanon. The e-Quran is available for desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. With the launching of the project, the Sultanate plans to become a global leader in electronic calligraphic Quran production.
“The Quran is unveiled as our dedication to Muslims all over the world. We hope that they might enjoy a new experience of calligraphy online, wherever they are or wherever they go,” the minister said.
Calligraphy is a visual art that has been practised since ancient times.
The name itself, derived from two Greek words Kalli, which means beautiful, and Graphia, which means writing, calligraphy uses the characters of the written word to create intricate designs. It is drawn with a broad tip instrument, dip pen, or brush.
The new e-Quran works on all operating systems, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android and as such no applications are needed, except a web browser that allows users to reach the site.
The minister said he hoped to reconcile Islamic civilisation and state-of-the-art technology.
An interface enables users to tweak the typographic features used for the naskh text.
It is 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.
Naskhalso known as Naskhi or by its Turkish name Nesih is a specific calligraphic style for writing in the Arabic alphabet, thought to have been invented by the calligrapher Ibn Muqlah Shirazi.
The root of this Arabic term means “to copy”. It either refers to the fact that it replaced its predecessor, Kufic script, or that this style allows faster copying of texts. With small modifications, it is the style most commonly used for printing Arabic, Persian, Pashto and Sindhi languages.
The Muscat e-Quran 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.
Construction of the web-based Quran started in 2013, when Scalable Vector Graphics, a lightweight image format for new computer typography, gained general acceptance.