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.
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.
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
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.
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 !
Abjad Ltd. is the developer of a series of quality educational products designed to effectively teach young children how to read and write Arabic. Abjad's Arabic Alphabet Learning System is also suitable for adult education and has been adapted for use with children who have special needs. The product line is designed around a highly accessible teaching system that presents the different letters of the Arabic alphabet in a way that children can easily understand and assimilate. This system overcomes key teaching challenges associated with the Arabic language by emphasizing the underlying patterns and relationships that pervade the alphabet.
The Abjad products and the key alphabet learning areas they address are summarized in the table below:
Supporting Abjad Products
the letters of the alphabet
of basic letter shapes; learning the names of the
letters; recognizing the various character forms of
the same letter.
Prince of the Letters Book+ audio cassette
Letters Book + audio cassette
Animal Memory Game
Animal Jigsaw Puzzle
Stickers; Word Stickers
individual letters in a word; assembling
simple words using the plastic letters; learning the
phonetic sound value of the different letters in a
Prince of the Letters Book+ audio cassette
Animal Book+ audio cassette
Writing letters using dotted guides; writing letters
using Abjad letter outline as a guides; writing
basic words using dotted guides inscribed in words;
writing words with only Abjad lettering as guides.
+ pen + eraser mitten
+ pen + mitten
+ pen + mitten
Hamza and the Vowels Book + pen + mitten
hamza & short vowels
Hamza and the Vowels Book
forms; new vocabulary,
Abjad World Workbook
Abjad Colours & Shapes
My World Workbook
use of modern manufacturing techniques in plastics
injection moulding, colour printing, and laser cutting Abjad
has been able to develop the elements of an Arabic
Alphabet Learning System. This system can - for the
first time - address precisely those challenges associated with teaching
Arabic that are not fully addressed by the
traditional method of teaching.
Abjad has identified three key challenges that
children face when learning the Arabic alphabet, and for
each challenge, Abjad system presents a decisive solution:
1: Complexity The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters.
learning, children have to distinguish between the many instances
of letters that appear strikingly similar to each other
(for example, the number and positioning of dots is
often all that distinguishes otherwise identical letters).
Added to this problem letters with similar
character forms at the beginning of a word can have very
different forms at the end of a word (compare Ba and Ya) The traditional system does not especially facilitate
the comprehension of the similarities and the differences
between the various letters. The Abjad system solves all
these complexities in a beautifully simple and
Script While it is generally accepted that Arabic
is a cursive script, it is perhaps better to describe it
as semi-cursive, since not all the Arabic letters attach to a
following letter (Alef,
Dal, Dhal, Ra, Zain, and Waw do not attach to a
following letter ).
Under the traditional system children overcome this challenge by performing lengthy drill. Children are given no
"reasons" why some letters should join a following
letter and why some letters should not. The Abjad
system gives this "reason".
3: Letter Forms In the Arabic alphabet, the number of character forms
associated with each letter varies (contrast English
where letters always have two forms; uppercase
and lowercase); Letters can have anything from one to
four character forms (three letters have 4 character
forms; nineteen letters have 2 essential forms; and the
remaining six letters have only 1 essential form).
It is a great challenge for children to assimilate all
these complex differences. The Abjad system through its
stories and unique letter set magically solves this problem
The Abjad Solution :
Abjad Letters overcome the conceptual hurdle
of complexity outlined by Challenge1 above by establishing an easily comprehensible scheme
of classification through which the letters are grouped
according to essential similarities. Based on their orthographic
formation, the 28 letters of the alphabet are categorized
into seven “families”, clearly differentiated by the colours
of the rainbow:
letters: The letter "Ha" is unique
among the letters in its complexity and variety of forms.
In the Abjad system, she is the “queen” of all the letters.
letters: Like the indigo letters, these letters
have no “tails”, but unlike the indigo letters, they have "hands" to help them hold onto other letters.
letters: These letters join to following letters
and each has a unique “tail” when found at the end of
letters: These letters join to following letters
and have horizontal “tails”.
letters: These letters join to
following letters and have deeply curved,
backward pointing “tails”.
letters: These letters can not join to following
letters since they do not have "hands"..
letters: These letters join to following letters
and have deeply curved, upward pointing “tails”.
The Abjad system
encapsulates the Colour Family
scheme outlined above in the Letter Pyramid,
a diagram consisting of the seven layers of
letters organized by increasing group size. Each row presents its letters in traditional alphabetical
Figure1 - The Abjad Letter Pyramid
Top of Page
It is a most
remarkable fact that the Arabic Alphabet,
when arranged according to their inherent
characteristics of its letters, forms a
beautifully symmetrical 7 by 7 triangle.
This is not so much an Abjad invention as it
is a discovery. The Letter Pyramid renders
the entire alphabet much more comprehensible
and intelligible for young children.
It fosters a sense of order, symmetry and
harmony, which predisposes children to feel
comfortable and confident with the alphabet.
classification makes it clear that the
letters Ba, Ta and Tha are related to each
other and that they share the same final
form - "hold" the same coloured "tail" -
whereas the letter Nun Ya and the letter Ya which both look
similar to these letters at the beginning of
a word are not similar since their colours
are different, and therefore, their tail
forms are different:
Figure 2: The Difference Between Ba Ta Tha, Nun, and Ya
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potential confusion between the letter Fa and the letter Qaf - two letters which look similar at the
beginning of a word - are prevented through
the use of differing colours and groupings
in the Abjad pyramid:
Figure 3: The Difference between Fa and Qaf 2. Hands and Tails
Abjad Learning System responds to the Arabic language’s “semi-cursive” script
- Challenge 2 - through the
concept of “hands and tails”:
All letters that can join to other letters have a small "hand" with which to
join. At the end of a word a letter with an "empty" "hand"
can "hold" a "tail" of its own color.
Figure4 - "Hands and Tails"
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All 3D plastic Abjad letters have a joining point into which these "hands" can fit. The joining point of each letter automatically aligns the letters correctly relative to each other.
Figure 5: Joining points of letters and tails
Top of Page
Those letters that cannot join to a following letter (Alif,
Dal, Dhal, Ra, Zain, and Waw) have no "hands" and consequently cannot be attached to
a following letter.
Figure 6: Letters without
In this way, with the simple
idea of "hands" and "tails", some of the greatest difficulties associated with teaching the
Arabic semi-cursive script are resolved. Children learn
the cursive nature of Arabic through the idea that each
letter "holds" a following letter; they learn that many
letters have a "tail" form - a letters "holding"
a "tail" of their own colour at the end of a word;
and they learn that certain letters cannot join a
following letter - letters that have no "hands" and
without "hands" have essentially the same shape wherever
they appear in a word. Most letters have essentially two
forms, one initial and one final form = "holding" a
"tail". When "holding" a "tail" a letter may have to
slightly realign itself. To enable the Abjad plastic
letter in question has a hinge which allows this
transformation to take place.
In a handful of cases the
Arabic character shape changes radically in appearance
depending on its position in a word, and in some cases
there exist even more that two essential different
character forms of the same letter - Challenge 3.
In such cases the Abjad letters are able to transform into
all these various forms through more elaborate
transformation, using either hinged elements, or additional elements which are added to the core letter. All these transformations and additions are carefully "explained" to children through the Prince of the Letters story. The letter Ain, for example, needs to "close" its "eyelid" to prevent a preceding letter poking it in the "eye"! (In Arabic the word Ain not only refers to the letter but is also used for the word meaning eye - so it is only "natural" that the Ain should close its "eye" to protect itself.)
A dramatic example of the letter transformation feature based on the Abjad hinge lies in the letter
Kaf . The sequence below shows the Kaf being
transformed from its initial/medial character form into
- Transformation of letter Kaf
In summary, the Abjad system
introduces a letter as a single, essential form (this
corresponds to the character form of the letter at the
beginning of a word). In some cases this essential form
never changes (letters without "hands"). When a letter has
more than one character form, the child can transform the
essential form of the letter into these other forms. In
this way a child realizes the different character forms
represent the same letter. Transformations are
generally very simple, requiring only the addition of a
"tail" and possibly the slight re-alignment of a hinge on
the letter. In some cases - notably with the Kaf, the
Ain/Ghain, and the letter Ha - the transformations are
more involved, but easily grasped through the explanation
of the Prince of the Letters story.
Overview of the Abjad Product Line:
The Alphabet System
The Abjad Plastic Letters are the foundation of the Abjad product line. When used in conjunction with Abjad books and other supporting products, they form a unique and comprehensive educational system that can be applied as an Arabic language curriculum as early as the age of three.
A unique quality of the Abjad system lies in how adaptable each product becomes depending upon when and how it is used. For example, younger children will require the Abjad Animal Book to act as a guide for the Abjad Animal Pop-Out cards. During the next stage the cards may be used on their own without the book, and so on. Not only does this versatility allow the system to suit different grade levels, it also aids teachers in adapting the system to different levels within the same classroom in a subtle manner. Children can thus maintain a sense of their own achievement amongst their classmates even though different children may be working at different levels.
Because Abjad products were designed to address the same teaching area using more than one set of materials, teachers can reinforce their teaching without the risk of becoming monotonous. For example, children may learn how to spell the word "Asad" through the Animal book, through the Pop-Out cards, while playing with the puzzle, or drawing over the poster, or playing with the memory cards, or through the Letters Workbook, and then again they may learn this using the Letters and Words CD-Rom.
This wide variety of teaching materials also helps teachers create new games, school plays and projects. Our teacher's guide CD offers a complete suggested schedule which teachers can follow or adapt to suit their requirements. This guide incorporates all the Abjad products and is packed with useful ideas and suggestions on how to use these products with the best effect within the Abjad Arabic Educational System.
One should also note that the Abjad system does not stop at teaching the Arabic alphabet system. The Abjad educational system already includes materials for teaching the Arabic numerals, and basic addition. The workbooks also cover many topics, such as colours, shapes, directions, positions, seasons, and parts of the body, the five senses and much more.
A Note About the Abjad Books
Co-ordinated size and colour
The Prince of the Letters picture book represents pictures of the Arabic letters. In all cases where children are being taught an important point the illustrations of the letters are exactly the same scale as the plastic letters. This is a unique Abjad feature! In what other language can children place identically sized and identically coloured embodiments of the letters over equivalent illustrations in a book?
This feature of co-ordinated size and colour is used to maximum effect in all other Abjad books, where all letters and words are the same size and colour as the Abjad plastic letters.
The Letters Book, however, takes the co-ordination of letter size and colour to even a higher level ! This book must indeed rank as one of the most intricately conceived books ever designed to teach the alphabet in any language ! Not only does this book have illustrations of the letters in the same scale and colour as the Abjad plastic letters, it also uses the Abjad typeface for the text of the book.
Unlike The Prince of the Letters, however, each individual letter in each word of the text of this book is also coloured in the same colour as its equivalent Abjad letter ! A child following this Letters Book will be looking at the pictures only (among the pictures are the life-sized Abjad letters which are the subject of the book).
The child - naturally - does not read the text. The parent or teacher, with or without the aid of the audio tape, does this. Why then should the parent or teacher need the text to be colour co-ordinated? The answer is that they do not need this. But, the text of this book deals - exceptionally - with the letters; the very same letters which make up the text of the book ! The parent or teacher can in this case - and this case only - take advantage of the text that they are reading from, to help explain to children what the letters can do ! They can find an example of any letter that they are discussing in miniature - embedded in the text - and point this out to the child.
The coloured text helps to immediately identify the "baby letter" in question. The colour - very importantly - isolates this "baby letter" from other surrounding letters. The fact that the typeface is also identical to the letters being discussed in the pictures prevents any possible confusion that might otherwise arise in the child's mind from the slight differences that distinguish different typefaces. The Letters Book offers a unique possibility to children, the small text of the story - which they cannot read - can act for them as a "bridge", helping them understand how letters are used to convey words and meaning. Co-ordinated size is also an important element in the Animal Book.
The reason here being that the Animal Book dovetails with the Animal Pop-Out Cards. Each of the cards is made up of the same image as each page of this book. Each card has its animal as well as the letter and word stamped out. By pushing out the letters and words from these cards the remaining silhouettes can be used as guides into which the plastic Abjad letters can be assembled. This can even be done with the cards overlaid on the corresponding animal page in the book.
Few educational books, if any, offer such seemingly endless possibilities and support to children using them, as do the Abjad series of books.
Each Abjad book has an accompanying audio cassette tape which vividly brings to life the stories through narration, music and song. These audio cassettes are important in that they guarantee correct pronunciation of letters, words and sentences. The very best actors and studios have been used for these recordings. Samira Abd al-Aziz - the principal voice in all the Abjad recordings - is one of the best-loved and most widely respected actresses working in Egypt today.
Write On - Wipe Off
Most of the Abjad books have hard covers and laminated pages for durability. Lamination also allows children to practice drawing or writing on the pages using the Abjad pen. Pages can then be wiped clean using the Abjad mitten. Children love to play with the pen and mitten. What better way to encourage them to practice drawing and writing !
The fact that the same page can be wiped clean over and over again, allows children to practice as much as they please. Unlike conventional books, the child can go back and correct any mistakes he may have made, or improve his copying with successive attempts.
Each book targets a specific teaching objective. From a general familiarization with the letters; to concentrating on learning all the character forms of the letters; to recognizing simple words; to recognizing the independent phonetic sound values of individual letters within a word; to tracing over dotted lines to write letters; to copying letters without dotted lines; to writing complete words using dotted lines; to becoming aware of the special character of the Hamza and the shorter vowels, etc.
In addition to the specific target for which any given book was produced, it can very often support elements specifically targeted elsewhere. For example, the Hamza and Vowels Book, as well as addressing the area identified by its title, is also a wonderful supplement to the Word Book which uses dotted lines in letters and words to guide children as they trace over the letter forms. The word book, however, only has 28 examples with which to practice, whereas the Hamza and Vowels book has 28 x 3 = 84 words inscribed with dotted lines.
© 2000-2003 Abjad Ltd. All rights reserved.