The Revival of the Urdu Script

How Apple, Microsoft, Google and HTML community can save the dying Urdu Nastaliq script from the hegemony of the Western alphabet and an overbearing Arab cousin? And some are already doing it! 

Mudassir Azeemi
May 28, 2014 · 3 min read

I am sure you read that awesome piece written by Ali Eteraz about “The Death of the Urdu Script” where he talked about the difference between existing Urdu Typeface and why the typeface “Nastleeq” is necessary for Urdu script if represented in the “Unicode.” Naskh vs. Nastaleeq bit? Remember?

Ali Eterazi’s article created a good amount of splash and it touches the very sensitive point regarding the Urdu script in online world.

I met with him after my friend, Jawwad Fareed, referred me and referred me to his article. We met and had a discussion at King’s BBQ & Grill while enjoying the delicious burgers there (which per Yelp, is now closed).

In my recent conversation with him, while riding back from San Francisco to Fremont, we ignited our conversation once again, and we did an experiment. I kept chanting a while about how I was able to see the “Nastaleeq” script on my iPhone 5s. From there, we compared our screen and saw the following bit:

My point was during that meeting I had earlier with Ali, and still I hold the same ground, is that the problem lies in the hands of “OS”. It is a matter of installing/providing the font by default from Apple, Microsoft, and Android. What will the HTML tag will look like? Very simple, just like any other Font styling and Font-family CSS bits look like, referring to that font in the HTML code.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the toughest problem can be solved by simply providing the Nastleeq Font on all the OSes. Either it is coming from Microsoft, Apple or Google on any platform. And we can revive the Urdu language’s true identity on the internet, without pulling too many hair. Because the hair-loss problem is still the toughest problem to crack so far.

Go ahead, download any app from the App store and install the app that has Nastaleeq font and enjoy the best Urdu reading experience on and However to write in Nastaleeq, Apple, Google and Microsoft will need to tie in the Nastaleeq font with the Unicode, relate it to Urdu and get rid of that Naskh typeface.

Here is what Nawa-e-Waqt doing with their website, if your system has the Jamil Noori Nastaleeq or Nafees font then their code will utilized it, obviously CSS bit is here.

So yes, it is easy to save and revive the Urdu script on internet, and thanks to Ali Eteraz for igniting this debate and because of this I just found it that the task is easy and the world most daunting Urdu script probelm as we know it can be solved by providing the Nastaleeq font in all the popular Operating Systems of this brave new world. Now the ball in Apple, Microsoft and Google’s court.

    Mudassir Azeemi

    Written by

    Finding patterns in chaos. Garaj Studio, and the pioneer of Urdu language on Apple devices! Entrepreneur+Product Designer+Speaker

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