The Arabic language, unlike western languages, is written from right to left, similar to other Semitic scripts. There are six letters within the Arabic alphabet which can only be joined the preceding characters.
The Arabic alphabet consists of 17 characters, all of which are consonants. Short vowel sounds are made using symbols, above, below and adjacent to the consonants.
Certain characters within the Arabic script can be joined to their adjacent neighbours, others to the preceding only, and others with the succeeding only. When joined with other letters the symbols undergo a slight change according to their position within the whole word.
When a character stands alone occurs at the end of a word, they usually end in a bold stroke. When they appear in the middle of a word, they are usually joined to the letter following, by a small upward curved stroke.
The initial and medial letters within a word are usually abbreviated, while the final letters consist of the initial form with a final, almost triumphant flourish. The essential part of the characters, however, remain unchanged.
All of the above features, along with the fact there are no uppercase letters in the alphabet, give the Arabic script its particular character. A line of Arabic typically suggests urgent progress of the characters from right to left. The balance between the vertical shafts and the curves below the middle register, support the feeling of harmony when viewed as a whole.
Arabic calligraphers are required to take all of the above features of the Arabic language and apply them in a sophisticated manner to create the harmony of proportions typically associated with Arabic calligraphy.
In the Islamic world, Arabic calligraphy is held in very high regard. The esteem accorded to the copying of the Quran, and the aesthetic perfection that was devoted to it raised Arabic calligraphy to the status of an art. Arabic calligraphy, unlike that of most cultures, influenced the style of monumental inscription. It is revered as highly as painting.