"The Arabic literary tradition began within the context of a tribal, nomadic culture. With the advent and spread of Islam, that tradition was carried far and wide during the course of the 7th to the 10th century. It initially sought to preserve the values of chivalry and hospitality while expressing a love of animals and describing the stark realities of nature, but it proceeded to absorb cultural influences from every region brought within the fold of “Dār al-Islām” (“Abode of Islam”). Early contacts with the Sasanian empire of Persia (present-day Iran) led to a noisy but fruitful exchange of cultural values. The foundation in 762 of Baghdad, built expressly as a caliphal capital, brought about further expansion to the east and contacts with the cultures of India and beyond; one of the results of such contact was the appearance in the Middle East of the world’s greatest collection of narrative, Alf laylah wa laylah(The Thousand and One Nights). In that same capital city was founded the great library Bayt al-Ḥikmah (“House of Wisdom”), which, until the sack of the city by the Mongols in 1258, served as a huge repository for the series of works from the Hellenistic tradition that were translated into Arabic. Al-Andalus became to the rest of Europe a model of a society in which the religions and cultures of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism could work together and create a system of scholarship and teaching that could transmit the heritage of older civilizations and the rich cultural admixture of Andalusian society. Western science, mathematics, philosophy, music, and literature were all beneficiaries of this fascinating era, of whose final stages the fabulous Alhambra palace complex in Granada, Spain, remains the most visible token".
To read further, Arabic Literature - Britannica
This post is part of our series of lecture reading excerpts from Sanad Foundation's 2018 course 'Islamic Scholarly Tradition' taught by Sidi Mohamed Acharki in Melbourne.