Shahmukhi alphabet

Shahmukhi (, Gurmukhi: ਸ਼ਾਹਮੁਖੀ, meaning literally "from the King's mouth") is a Perso-Arabic alphabet used by Muslims in Punjab primarily in Punjab, Pakistan to write the Punjabi language. It is generally written in the Nastaʿlīq calligraphic hand, which is also used for Urdu. Perso-Arabic is one of two scripts used for Punjabi, the other being Gurmukhi, used in Punjab, India.

Shahmukhi is written from right to left, while Gurmukhi is written from left to right. It is also used as the main alphabet to write the Pothohari dialect in Indian Jammu and Kashmir.

The Shahmukhi alphabet was first used by the Sufi poets of the Punjab; it became the conventional writing style for the Muslim populace of the Pakistani province of Punjab following the Partition of India, while the largely Hindu and Sikh modern-day state of Punjab, India adopted the Gurmukhi or the Devanagari scripts to record the Punjabi language.

Below is the comparison of the two scripts:


Vowel Diacritics

Though not normally written and only implied, like Urdu, Shahmukhi also has diacritics, taken from the Arabic language, to express short vowels.


No Punjabi words begin with , , or . The digraphs of aspirated consonants are as follows.
  • (Bari ye) is only found in the final position, when writing the sounds e (ਏ) or æ (ਐ), and in initial and medial positions, it takes the form of .
  • Vowels are expressed as follows:

    Difference from Persian and Urdu

    Shahmukhi has more letters added to the Urdu base to represent sounds not present in Urdu, which already has additional letters added to the Arabic and Persian base itself to represent sounds not present in Arabic. Characters added which differ from Persian but not Urdu include: to represent /ʈ/, to represent /ɖ/, to represent /ɽ/, to represent /◌̃/, and to represent /ɛ:/ or /e:/. Furthermore, a separate do-cashmi-he letter, , exists to denote a /ʰ/ or a /ʱ/, this letter is mainly used as part of the multitude of digraphs, detailed below. Characters added which differ from Urdu include: to represent /ɭ/ and ݨ to represent /ɳ/.


    In Punjabi, there are many Arabic and Persian loanwords. These words contain some sounds which were alien to South Asian languages before the influence of Arabic and Persian, and are therefore represented by introducing dots beneath specific Gurumukhi characters. Since the Gurmukhi alphabet is phonetic, any loanwords which contained pre-existing sounds were more easily transliterated without the need for characters modified with subscript dots. is pronounced 'j' in French or as vion in English

    is often transliterated in many ways due to its changing sound in various Arabic and Persian words.