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Consider these two lines:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِینَ

and

ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلْعَٰلَمِینَ

As you can see, ٱلْعَٰلَمِینَ is spelled in two different forms. I took them from two different sites. One from Quran's Database, and the other from Recite Quran.

As I'm watching their texts, they have many different spellings in different parts.

I wonder, how many spellings and system of writings do we have for Quran? And I'm only interested in Arabic language.

Update: Thank you for pointing me to the right direction. Now my question becomes as simple as:

how many rasm-al-mushaf do we have?

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  • I don't know what do you mean by spelling but what you are showing has -directly- not do with Arabic language, but with the so called rasm of the mushaf (this means the way or how letters are written in a mushaf).
    – Sassir
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 5:53

2 Answers 2

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As sassir pointed out in his comment this isn't really a matter of spelling rather than a matter of rasm al-mushaf (how words/letters of the quranic text or scripture have been written by the sahaba and later).

You should know that the Arabic letters and language as we know it today was not the same as at the time of our Messenger (Peace be upon him) so the nearest version to what the scripture looked like in it's original form (the way the sahaba wrote it down) in a mushaf looks like this:

العلمين

Note that at the time there was no punctuation, so some letters which now look different were similar at the time. The word above as written may mean "the two worlds" if one reads it العَلَمَيْنِ instead of "the worlds العَالَمِينَ" in modern Arabic the correct spelling would be:

العالمين

now the point is that the scholars say that the original scripture is what we may call "canonical" many scholars said the quranic scripture shouldn't change and be kept or preserved as the sahaba wrote it, so a way to correct the (historically) "false" scripture was adding a pending alif "ا" in the mushaf (copy of the Quran) to avoid changing the canonical text.

For further information i strongly suggest you to check the following posts:

What are the readings (qira'at) of Quran?

How to explain the recitation لَئِنْ انجــينا (verse 6.63) by Al-Azami in his book “The History of the Quranic text”?

Why do words like "salah" and "riba" have an extra unpronounced letter waw in them? -> clear difference in scripture and rasm (?).

Answer of the updated question:

The rasm of the mushaf or rasm al-'Othmany as it refers to the quranic text or scripture written following the orders of the Caliph 'Othman by a chosen comity of sahaba who have been Quran memorizes is as said standardized or unified, so it's canonically only one rasm. (See for example this or this fatwa saying it's mandatory to keep it and forbidden to change it).

But and here I might add a few information that came into my mind now:
When you read in different mushafs with different readings or riwayat you may find some different symbols: For example the pending alif as in your example may refer to a different qiraa'a (reading) (a prominent example for that would be singular/plural) as some qiraa'at had slight differences in letters like added letters, subtracted letters or replacing a letter by an other you may in the actual copy's you hold in hand have "different" spellings or scripture I think I've pointed at some examples already in my answers on the linked questions, but you could also check my references. If you need further information feel free to ask by comment.

Here some Arabic references: Fatwa whether it is permissible to change the rasm (write in modern Arabic orthography), a study on rasm, introduction on rasm , some examples and "secrets" of rasm.

And Allah knows best!

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There are two variations of spellings for Salāh in all the copies of the Mūs'haf (even printed in different parts of the world). Both the variations in spellings are NOT used interchangeably i.e., whenever wished written with a Wao and whenever wished written with Alif without a Wao. It is not like that. It is seen, when it appears as a proper noun (المَعْرِفَةُ) with (ال) as a prefix then it is written with a (و) and (ألف خنجرية) over it (وٰ); - (ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ). But when it comes with possessive pronouns (اَلضَّمَائِر الْمُتَّصِلَة) then it comes with Laam Alif (لا) e.g., (صَلَاتِي), (صَلَاتَهُ), (صَلَاتِهِمْ), etc. However, there is one exception in Sūrah Hūd, Āyāh 87 where it appeared as a possessive pronoun but with a (و) and (ألف خنجرية) over it. Here below is the Āyāh of Sūrah Hūd.

قَالُوْا يٰشُعَيْبُ أَصَلٰوتُكَ تَاْمُرُكَ اَنْ نَّتْرُكَ مَا يَعْبُدُ اٰبَاۗؤُنَآ

I assume that since (أَصَلٰوتُكَ) is prefixed with an “Interrogative Hamza Alif” (الف همزة للاستفهام), which sounds like the prefix (ال) of a proper noun, therefore due to resemblance in utterance (sound) its spellings are treated as the Salāh in the form of a proper noun!!!!!!!!! The other Āyāāt where it appeared as a possessive noun and is written with Laam Alif (لا) are as follows:

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

وَمَا كَانَ صَلَاتُهُمْ عِنْدَ الْبَيْتِ إِلَّا مُكَاءً وَتَصْدِيَةً

كُلٌّ قَدْ عَلِمَ صَلَاتَهُ وَتَسْبِيحَهُ

الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ

The reason for variations in such spellings is in accordance with the rules of (الإعلال والإبدال). But the question here is not whether it is permitted in Rasm al-Uthmani or not rather the question is why in the Mushaf (where the same writing script Rasm al-Uthmani is used throughout), do we see such variations. It is not by choice to write the desired spellings but the reason is governed by a certain rule which we want to know clearly.

Hatim Khan

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  • Salam and welcome to Islam staeckexchange the question and answer site about Islam. I strongly suggest you to check our help center and take the tour to lear more about this site. Your answer is a bit off-topic it however addresses the updated question to some extent. The rasm of the qur'an must be followed even if it`s ortography or grammar is incorrect this was agreed upon by scholars since the begining when copies of the moshafs were created and copied from earlier copies.
    – Sassir
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 23:43

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