According to Welch, when viewed in the context of the earliest written versions of the Qur’ān, the Muqaṭṭa’āt could have represented a complete record of the Arabic alphabet for readers.
The Arabic alphabet consists of eighteen distinct graphemes (ا ب ج ر س ص ط ع ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي) when each letter is viewed in isolation. These eighteen can further be reduced to fifteen separate graphemes if we count the graphemes of ب ن ي and ف ق respectively as homographs when written in the non-final position. In combination with diacritics or dots to distinguish between the various letters that are allographs, the Arabic script expresses a total of twenty-eight phonemes.
In the earliest versions of the Arabic script, and hence in the earliest written versions of the Qur’ān, there were no diacritics to distinguish between graphemes which represented different sounds. Furthermore, the letters ف ق و as well as د ذ ك were allographs, in contrast to their representation in the modern Arabic script. This further reduction to fourteen distinct graphemes as represented by the Arabic script of the seventh century C.E. provides a complete representation of the Arabic alphabet at that time.
The fourteen letters which make up the Muqaṭṭa’āt represented in the Qur’ān therefore provide a definitive version of the early Arabic script. Welch proposes that their placement at the beginning of twenty-nine of the Qur’ān’s chapters, when coupled with the numerous references in the Quran (6:98, 41:2, 12:2 et al.) to it being a guide for those who understand and to its revelation in clear Arabic, is evidence that the Muqaṭṭa’āt are there to demonstrate the clarity of the language, to function as a pronunciation guide, or for use as a pedagogical tool.
There are several inconsistencies in this theory, not the least of which is the fact that it does not explain the placement of the Muqaṭṭa’āt before these particular twenty-nine chapters. Neither does it explain the order of the letters and their arrangement in each particular occurrence, both of which seem to contradict the established order of the Arabic alphabet’s ‘abjad’, which was used at that time and continued to be the established order until at least a century after the Prophet’s death, or for that matter, the revised order which is still in use today.
Generally accepted theories of the evolution of the Arabic script (for a widely held view see Hitti’s History of the Arabs), hold that the dotting or diacritical marks were developed during al-Hajjaj bin Yūsuf’s governorship of Iraq. In contrast, contemporary researchers such as Alan Jones have drawn different conclusions based on the earliest papyrus featuring the Arabic script (PERF 558). From this early epigraph, it is clear from the use of the diacritical marks within the text, that the system of diacritics for distinguishing between allographs was available to the scribes charged with producing the first manuscripts of the Qur’ān during the ‘Uthmanic caliphate. The fact that these diacritics are not found in the earliest extant copies is a moot point, given that any representation of the Arabic abjad within the pages of the Qur’ān (the Muqaṭṭa’āt) would likely have used the diacritics to distinguish between the 14 graphemes and the 28 phonemes of the Arabic language. This should have been the case so as to provide a complete record of the Arabic phonemic range if Welch’s theory were correct.
Furthermore, we know from anthropological and linguistic research into the pre-Islamic period, as well as from the name of the Qur’ān itself, that the Arabs pursued an oral tradition. God’s word, in keeping with the tradition of its oral revelation, was initially destined for recitation and memorisation, as opposed to its eventual codification or inlibration in the written Qur’ān.
 Welch, op. cit., p.414
 M A S Abdel Haleem. 1994. ‘Qur’ānic Orthography: The Written Representation Of The Recited Text Of The Qur’ān’. Islamic Quarterly 38/3. p.172
 Gruendler, op. cit., p.139.
 Welch, op. cit., p.414.
 Ahmed, op. cit., p.40.
 Phillip K. Hitti. 2002. History of the Arabs (Rev. 10th ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p.219.
 Jones, op. cit., pp.97-98.
 Alan Jones. 2005. ‘Orality and Writing in Arabia’. The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’ān (Vol. III: I-O). Jane Dammen McAuliffe (Ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill. p.590.