Note on Transliteration
The three manuscripts are replete with Arabic names which in some instances have a Swahili equivalent. The names have on the whole been transliterated in accordance with the system used by the Middle East Studies Association. Since, however, Swahili has certain sounds for which there is no Arabic equivalent, the manuscripts adapt some Arabic letters to cover these. The authors of the three manuscripts have not been consistent in doing so. The divergence has been noted in the footnotes.
The following is a table of the most common letters and their equivalents.
The hamza is not indicated at the beginning of a word.
The letter ghayn is used for NG or NG’ in Swahili words, and sometimes the modified letters of jīm, bā and fā are used for CH, P and V.
The letter wāw sometimes indicates the consonant W and at other times a long vowel ū. The ḍamma represents a short vowel u or o.
The letter ʿayn is marked as ʿ and hamza as ʾ.
J.W.T. Allen, Arabic Script for Students of Swahili. Supplement to Tanganyika Notes and Records. November 1945. See also R.L. Pouwels, The Shafʿi Ulama of East Africa, ca. 1830–1970: A Hagiographic Account. Madison: University of Wisconsin African Studies Program, 1989, pp. 1 ff.
Royal Anthropological Institute (ed.), Notes and Queries on Anthropology. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1971, p. 66. In a Semitic context, the term has been used to refer to the “tribes of Israel,” e.g. Ex. 28:21.
Ibid., p. 89; J. De V. Allen, Swahili Origins, pp. 219 ff.