Nastaʿlīq is not really representative because it's a calligraphy style not used in Arabic.
But it is the standard for written Urdu, I believe.
Well, I would advise anyone attempting to learn Japanese to learn at least the 1,945 jōyō kanji (jp:常用漢字; "habitual use sinographs") first, before even learning kana. Knowing those kanji gives you a solid foundation for learning the actual language itself.
I would study those but learn kana first, because it's simpler and might give me a) some idea of how to read Japanese and b) practice with the stroke rules and so on of kanji.
Nah, I think learning kana first would be better, because a lot of dictionaries etc only show the reading in kana anyways, and if they romanize it you don't know which romanization system they used, which might be a little confusing.
The reason why I recommend kanji
first is because while you're learning them you won't be using kana
for anything. When you're learning kanji
you only will be learning the meanings; no readings. If you learn kana
first, there's a chance you'll forget them by the time you're done with the kanji
But, I don't think that learning kana
first would be detrimental, either, so it's OK to do it that way.
Would it be helpful to study Chinese characters first, since they are what kanji (and the principles of their composition) are based on?
I'm not sure I understand your question. Kanji are
Chinese characters. Kanji
(JP:漢字) is just what they're called in Japanese. I suppose the term in English specifically refers to those that are used in Japanese but most of them also are used in Chinese.
But that's exactly what I recommend: to learn kanji
before you start learning actual Japanese.