Mushaf Muscat: a New Approach to Arabic Text Editing in the Digital Age

Thomas Milo, Decotype, Amsterdam, Netherlands
IQSA International Conference 2021 “Giorgio La Pira” Library, Palermo, Italy
Panel 7. Carriers of the Text and Readings 2: The Qur’an in Light of Digital Humanities

The official Qur’an edition of the Sultanate of Oman, Mushaf Muscat, new computer technology had to be invented when it was launched in 2017. a) Aesthetically, the text had to be displayed with meticulously researched computer models representative of the naskhi and kufi styles; b) Theologically, the naskhi model had to reconcile strict script grammar with specific orthographic rules prescribed by the 1924 Cairo Qur’an; c) Linguistically, the text had to be consistently encoded and well-structured; d) Digitally, industrial constraints regarding Arabic text encoding, font technology, rendering reliability, and web publishing had to be mitigated; it also had to be easy to navigate and copy. The resulting Azhar-certified digital text, enhanced by a new analysis of Arabic text encoding, forms the basis for a novel palaeo-orthographic reduction of the text. This procedure is the result of original research on the earliest known (fragments of) Qur’an manuscripts, as well as various printed editions. By comparing these texts, Tom Milo has identified the typical common denominators, which creates a tool for new research strategies.