Alif ( ا ) and Alif-madd ( آ )
So you want to know about the letters of the Urdu alphabet! The name of the first is ALIF, the one like a stick, ( ا ) OK? The other one, a stick with a cap above is called, ALIF-MADD ( آ ). We put both of them here on a same page not only because of their shape but also because of their sound and function in written Urdu
Now as you have learned the names of these two initial leters of the alphabet, we will now see how they sound: The alif has NO SOUND of its own! we will learn more about this in a different section below, so for now, just forget it and just note about alif-madd (this letter آ), that it sounds like a in father, simple! If you are clear about the concept given so far, you can move to read further but if there is something cloudy, please go back to read again and make sure you understand before going on to the next section.
Stroke direction and order
Ok, now its time to see a big picture of the alif-madd and how to write the strokes for this letter. As you can see, alif-madd (equivalent of English a) consists of two strokes and as a general rule (not always so) in Urdu script we have to write the larger stroke first and smaller next, also top to bottom first and right to left second. The red arrow will tell you the stroke direction and the numbers will tell you the stroke order
In Urdu, like Arabic, the letters usually join each other in a word and this joining is called ligature. As one can imagine, there are three possibilities during ligature making, and alphabet may join in at the 1) start 2) middle or at the 3) end of a of a ligature (joining of two or more letters). But, you should remember that alif-madd never joins any letter at the start and middle, it always joins (if it has to) at the end of a word only. Just one more thing! alif-madd never comes in the middle of a ligature. Now here are the 3 situations of ligature formation