About Abjad

Abjad Ltd. was founded by Justin Mustafa Majzub who studied Arabic and Persian at Oxford University. Realizing that there was a lack of quality products for teaching Arabic, Mr. Majzub set out to produce books and other Arabic educational materials which would make learning the Arabic alphabet easier and more enjoyable.
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The first step of this process began in the late 1980s when Mr Majzub started working with Dr. Bassam Saeh, his former Arabic tutor at Oxford University who was at that time head of Arabic at the King Fahad Academy in London. Together, they began to write a story to help children overcome the key difficulties associated with learning the Arabic alphabet. The story which emerged from this collaboration was produced as a play by the children at the King Fahad Academy school in 1990, and after many subsequent revisions this story became The Prince of the Letters (Amir Al-Huruf) -  the first book in the Abjad Alphabet Learning System.

 

 

Work on this story led to the discovery of the Abjad alphabet pyramid, a sevenfold categorization of the Arabic alphabet. Each level of the pyramid was allocated one of the seven colours of the rainbow. This new and colourful classification has proved to be an extremely effective tool for introducing children to the Arabic alphabet.

 

The Prince of the Letters story treats each letter as an individual living in the letter kingdom.  Letters have "hands" and "tails"; they can "hold" each other, or "hold" a "tail" of their own colour at the end of a word. Letters without "hands" - naturally - can not hold a following letter in a word. Through the use of such simple ideas as "hands", "tails" and "holding" most of the complexities of the Arabic script simply dissolve away. This book's wonderfully woven story is supported by their richly illustrated pictures to engage children, and to draw them into a world of learning that will last a lifetime.

Before The Prince of the Letters  could be produced as a picture book, the Abjad letters had to be designed. These designs were used not only to illustrate the appearance of the letters in the illustrations of the book, but they were also used to create the unique Abjad typeface which was used to set the text in the picture book! This needed to be done so as to prevent any visual discrepancy between the letters used in the body of the text and the letters appearing in the pictures. But the Abjad letters are much more than a typeface, the Abjad letters are in fact, letters capable of transforming themselves into all their own required character forms!

The Abjad plastic magnetized letters are the 3D embodiment of the Abjad letters illustrated in the book. These plastic letters give children the possibility of feeling and playing with the letters. They are the same size and colour as the key the representations in The Prince of the Letters. This allows children to use them interactively with the book. Having a functional, colourful and tactile alphabet set removes any sense of apprehension a child might feel in coming to grips with the alphabet. The accompanying Abjad picture books help children further by represent ing each letter as an easily identifiable individual, and easily explaining all the transformations each letter undergoes.

The Abjad plastic letters were only manufactured after a long and arduous process which required the solution of highly complex design and engineering problems.  The final - and seemingly simple -  solution allows letters to link correctly to any following letter! Moreover, each letter is capable of  transforming into any of its own different character forms! The late Bahij Andari, an extremely gifted Lebanese calligrapher, best known for his design of the type-face for the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayaat, made an important contribution during this developmental stage. Likewise, Dr. Mahmoud Rasch of S.L. Stuttgart, best know for the design of the umbrellas in the courtyard of the holy mosque of Medina, was instrumental in overcoming the key engineering difficulty in the design of the tools used to manufacture the plastic letters

During the 1990s, Mr. Majzub developed and incorporated the Abjad letters and stories into a comprehensive Arabic Alphabet Learning System. A system which incorporates the small Abjad plastic letters, giant wooden letters, picture books, write on-wipe off books, workbooks, colouring books, audio tapes, posters, jigsaws, memory cards, pop-out cards, stickers and CD-Roms, etc. Abjad is currently expanding the system by working on a half hour animation as well as a 30 part TV series.

The development of Abjad as a Learning System has involved much deliberation and consultation with parents, teachers, calligraphers, animators, illustrators, designers, TV program makers, printers, and plastics manufacturers, toy manufacturers, as well as many other technicians. Not only were Arab and Muslim teachers and families consulted in the U.K., Egypt and Arabia, but opinions and ideas were sought in Turkey, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, India and Malaysia, as well as the U.S., France, Switzerland, Spain and Germany. The latest phase of this collaboration and consultation was Abjad's move to Egypt in 2001 in order to work more closely with Egyptian schools, teachers and other educationalists.

The driving idea at Abjad, from the outset, has been the creation of a learning system of excellence. A system that would appeal to a child's sense of sight, sound and touch. Abjad set out to provide Muslim and Arab children - and indeed all those interested in learning Arabic - with an alphabet learning system second to none. The foundation of that system is now in place - over 100 schools are making use of the Abjad system in Egypt alone !

Click here to read a more detailed description of the Abjad Arabic Learning System.


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