Encoding the Holy Koran into Unicode

Adil Allawi - Diwan Software Limited

Intended Audience: Manager, Software Engineer
Session Level: Beginner

The central document of the Muslim religion, the Koran, also represents the highest standard for the representation of the Arabic language and typography. The text of the Koran is sacred to Muslims and as such it must be encoded without any errors and in its entirety. It is for these reasons that any approach in encoding the Koran fully on computers is a non-trivial task. It is not possible to compromise on any details from the design of the typeface to the encoding of the text into Unicode. Diwan Software Limited have an ongoing project for the past three years to make a complete electronic Koran. Starting with the creation of a suitable typeface to the encoding of the text. The purpose of our paper will be to show how we have approached this subject and to demonstrate the results of our work. We also wish to use the opportunity to start a discussion on how the Unicode standard can best be applied to this purpose and what are its limitations.

Our work is not just relevant to Muslims and scholars of Islamic religion. Although this would be reason enough for our project. But also as a key milestone in the development of the Unicode standard in its ability to accurately represent texts of all world language. The lessons we have learnt from our project will also be relevant for anyone trying to accurately render written texts using computers and encode such texts into Unicode. We hope that our presentation would also highlight these aspects.

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16 Jun 2000, Webmaster