Arabic Literature

What Is Arabic Literature

Arabic literature is the writing, both prose and poetry, produced by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is "Adab", which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and which implies politeness, culture and enrichment.

Origins of Arabic Literature

Arabic literature emerged in the 5th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then. The Qur'an, widely regarded by people as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language, would have the greatest lasting effect on Arabic culture and its literature. Arabic literature flourished during the Islamic Golden Age, but has remained vibrant to the present day, with poets and prose-writers across the Arab world, as well as rest of the world, achieving increasing success.

Stages of Development of Arabic Literature

Arabic Literature is part of the history of the Arabs that is mainly related to the Arabic language and culture, from: poetry, story, novel, and play. All these works are known as Arab literature and convey a picture of it to all the peoples of the world. Arabic Literature went through the following stages:

Antarah Ibn Shaddad

Antarah Ibn Shaddad is a popular hero and an iconic poet of pre-Islamic Arabic literature.

The story of ʿAntar and ʿAbla was embroidered into a poetic saga traditionally credited to al-Asmaʿi, a poet in the court of Hārūn al-Rashīd. It is still recited by traditional story-tellers in Arab coffee houses. Its importance has been compared with English literature's Arthurian romances.


Abu at-Tayyib Ahmad bin Al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi was an Arab poet. He is considered one of the greatest, most prominent and most influential poets in the Arabic language, and much of his work has been translated into over 20 languages worldwide. Much of his poetry revolves around praising the kings he visited during his lifetime.

House of Wisdom

The House of Wisdom refers to a major Abbasid public academy and intellectual center in Baghdad and to a large private library belonging to the Abbasid Caliphs during the Islamic Golden Age.

The Abbasid golden age gave rise to a capable and imposing group of translators, who tried successfully to regain the heritage of antiquity. Men of letters took advantage of this substantial contribution.

Magic Flying Carpet

Magic Flying Carpet is one of the stories in the "One Thousand and One Nights". it is another legendary tale that relates how Prince Husain, the eldest son of Sultan of the Indies, travels to Bisnagar (Vijayanagara) in India and buys a magic carpet. The story is another face of Arabic literature.

Manuscript of Alf Layla Wa-layla

Alf layla wa-layla (One Thousand and One Nights) is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as "The Arabian Nights".

Maqamat of al-Hariri

Al-Maqamat is the title of a book written by Abu Muhammad al Qasim ibn Ali al-Hariri (1054-1122) containing fifty relatively short stories (maquamat = "settings" or "sessions"), each one identified by the name of a city in the Muslim world of the time. The stories tell of actual adventures and especially the verbal pronouncements in verse or in prose of a roguish and peripatetic hero, Abu Zayd from Saruj, a town in northern Syria, as told by al-Harith, a sober and slightly gullible merchant travelling from place to place.

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is a folk tale included in "One Thousand and One Nights". It is one of the most famous tale in Arabic literature.

Ahmed Shawqi

Ahmed Shawqi (nicknamed Amīr al-Shu‘arā’) was one of the greatest Arabic poets laureate, an Egyptian poet and dramatist who pioneered the modern Egyptian literary movement, most notably introducing the genre of poetic epics to the Arabic literary tradition.