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Re: Volunteers for verifying the quran data

On 7/13/05, Gregg Reynolds <gar at arabink dot com> wrote:
> Meor Ridzuan Meor Yahaya wrote:
> >
> > Second, as far as I know, there are several bodies that do some
> > verification process (the is a department in one of the ministry in
> > Malaysia whom a publisher of Quran need to get their approval from).
> > However, I don't think they will certify electronic data, like the one
> > mentioned by Greg. They probably will certify the visual
> > representation of it. So, that is why I was focusing on the visual
> > aspect of it to be correct, but wihout concerning too much on the
> > consistency of the actual data. I hope that someone will take this up
> > and get it certify somehow. If we were to certify the electronic data,
> > most likely we will have to do it ourselves, but the drawback is we
> > don't get any certification from anyone. I think it is very important
> > to get the Quran standardize in the electronic form, since there are
> > several version of electronic Quran around the net, but none really
> > comply with Rasm Uthmani. Hope this will be part of the solution.
> I think we have an educational task.  We need to educate people about
> the nature of electronic (digital, computational, whatever) text.  Most
> importantly, about the relation between the graphical display and the
> underlying encoding of text.
> [And maybe, as has been noted recently, we should start discussing such
> things in Arabic, at least to some extent.]

The difficulties on this task is, we don't have enough people who have
the knowledge enough to educate other people. It is very rare to get a
person who are master in arabic and the Quran who have enough
knowledge on computing, and vice versa. To complicate matters,
technology changes often, thus we dont even have enough people
knowledgable enough in all of the technologies required. To get a
person knowledgable enough in programming as well as in font
technologies is very rare. Microsoft maybe has some. I think that is
why, even after 20 years after the introduction of GUI to desktop PC,
we still have problems in supporting international language like
arabic in desktop pc.
To know the relation between the relation of the graphical display and
the underlying encoding of text, you need to know tons of stuff.
First, of course the encoding standard. ATM, we have Unicode, but as
we all know, even Unicode does not get it right. Then , the underlying
technology that will support it.
First, font technology. ATM, as far as I can tell, we have OpenType,
Apple's AAT, and maybe some other technology that I'm not aware of
(SIL is working on one, but seems like it's not moving fast enought).
Some people complaint about Opentype, but personally, I think Opentype
is the best thing have ever happen to desktop computing for
internalization. For those who have complaint, maybe they never work
on scripts like arabic. Of course,simple script like Latin script does
not need technology like Opentype. Apple's AAT, somehow not open
enought to be widely use.
Then, we need to understand, the technology that support the font
technology, such as Uniscribe and Pango. As far as I can tell, even
earlier version of Windows XP distributed with a buggy uniscribe that
does not comply with MS own's documentation! The one that distributed
with Office 2003 probably have the best support (not sure about ealier
Finally, the actual font. As I mentioned ealier, not a single font
that I can find that will support enough range of arabic features that
will enable it to display the quran properly. Hope mine will resolve
So, it is a big task to educate people on all of this issues to get it
all right.
In order to solve all this, companies like Harf develop everything on
their own, not bothering on standards. They have done a termendous
work on digitizing the Mushaf, but we can't really utilise it in the
way we would like it. (We can't copy/paste their text to word
processor for example, but you can do that with my unicode text)

> > To get the electronic data to be certify, we have a long way to go.
> > First, a standard need to be develop, which is far from complete. Greg
> > just posted a mail on this, so maybe this will get things going in the
> > right direction. Then maybe we can get the Quran encoded according to
> > the standard. I think probably we can get it done in 3-5 years time.
> >
> Seems like a long time.  But, however long it takes!
> [A personal note:  for what it's worth, and, maybe this isn't important,
> but just in case anybody cares, I am not a muslim.  I only say this
> because I know that there may be some people who may not so happy about
> a non-muslim working on Quranic text.  That's okay; I respect their
> opinion, even if I don't agree with it.  I think full disclosure is a
> Good Thing.  I don't personally think this is very important, but on the
> other hand, I know that religious affiliation is culturally very
> important in many parts of the world, and, frankly, it seems only
> natural to me that muslims in the muslim world might be suspicious of
> "well-intentioned" westerners (which is what I am).  I know I would be.
>   I just happen to know Arabic and computation, and I strongly believe
> that computational power should be equally available to all peoples,
> regardless of nationality, religion, ethnicity, etc.  Especially these
> days, it is of the utmost importance to everybody that languages of the
> muslim world be "properly" (whatever that means) represented
> computationally.]
> -gregg
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BTW, I'm from Malaysia, studied in the US. So, I do have some basic
understanding of westerners like you, and I've been working with non
muslims on various things many times. Some of them are very close to
me. Anyway, I'm curious, what are you trying to achieve with this
thing? Seems to me a very ambitious goal, which even I don't have. My
motivation is that I would like to have digital version of the mushaf
for my own personal use, especially for Quranic study. However, it is
a sad thing to me that it has been a very long time since the
introduction of personal computer, but still we don't have proper
format to represent one of the oldest book compiled in history.
(probably not the oldest compilation, but definitely one of the