The Mashq script is the oldest documented Arabic Jazm calligraphy style. It was invented by the early Muslims in the Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina, exclusively for writing the Quran and other Islamic religious texts. The Mashq style employed complex ligature and multi-level baseline rules, and therefore it went through a continuous simplification process. Around the time period Mashq was developed, the early Arab Muslims experimented with another short-lived Mashq-like style with heavily slanted vertical stems, which closely resembled the common Ḥijazi style. This style is commonly referred to as the Ma’il (slanted) style. Eventually, the early complex Mashq style was replaced as the main Islamic Arabic script, by a more simplified Mashq-derived calligraphy style that was developed in the city of Kufa, modern day Iraq, which was commonly referred to as Kufi. The Kufic style became the official Arabic script style for centuries before it was replaced by the more developed Naskh, the modern Arabic script style used today.
The Mashq font family by Arabetics includes three styles of Mashq. The first is Mashq regular, which closely follows the script style of Musḥaf ‘Uthman (currently displayed in the Topkapi Museum in Turkey) with only the initial and final Haa’ baselines shifting. The second is Mashq Maail, which emphasizes the features of the Ma’il style shared with Mashq. The third is Mashq Kufi, which closely follows the script style in an adequate sample from the Quran manuscripts of the Bergstraesser Archive. All three fonts include two styles, with and without Tashkeel (dots). The Mashq and Mashq Kufi fonts include two more styles, with and without Harakat (soft vowels), and Hamza. Only three soft vowels are implemented along with their Tanween (double) forms. The Sukoon vowel is the default shape before inserting a soft vowel. Hamza was treated as a vowel in the Mashq and early Kufi manuscripts. Kashida is a zero width character. In the Mashq fonts, inserting one Kashida before the final ‘Ayn glyph group will trigger alternative shapes. In the Mashq Kufi fonts, inserting one Kashida (or two) before the final Yaa’, ‘Ayn, and Ḥaa’ glyph groups will trigger alternative shapes. The Mashq font family by Arabetics was designed to be as compatible as possible with the Arabic keyboard and Unicode alphabet used in computers today. Calligraphic variations were implemented only when they marked significant and permanent script features.