The Arabic language in its earliest phases was relatively well protected from the forces of rapid change by the peninsular environment within which it developed.

Arabic literature, the body of written works produced in the Arabic language.

The tradition of Arabic literature stretches back some 16 centuries to unrecorded beginnings in the Arabian Peninsula.

Whatever may have been the linguistic environment of pre-Islamic Arabia, the rapid spread of the faith across Africa and into Asia soon created a situation in which written and spoken Arabic inhabited opposite ends of a linguistic spectrum.

At one end was the language of written communication and Islamic scholarship, which regarded the language of the Qurʾān as its inimitable yardstick; from this belief developed the later critical doctrine of (the “inimitability of the Qurʾān”), which resulted in a written (literary) language that has undergone remarkably little change over the centuries.

As the history of the revelation, memorization, and eventual recording in written form of the Qurʾān makes clear, the society of Arabia was one that relied to a large extent on human memory to preserve details of important events and principles and to pass on such information and artifacts to succeeding generations.

That very reality makes it extremely difficult to pinpoint precise details regarding the earliest development of the Arabic language and its literary tradition.

At the turn of the 21st century, the powerful influence of the West tended to give such contacts a more one-sided directionality, but Arab litterateurs were constantly striving to find ways of combining the generic models and critical approaches of the West with more indigenous sources of inspiration drawn from their own literary heritage.

in English to imply those writings that are susceptible to aesthetic analysis (as opposed to everything that is written) is of relatively recent vintage, and the development of a field of study devoted to it is yet more recent (with the study in the West of non-Western literary traditions being even more so).

However, as Arab literary historians endeavoured to trace the development of a modern literary tradition in different regions and as creative writers themselves strove to find indigenous sources of inspiration and modes of expression, a perceived need to incorporate the second category mentioned above—that of the linkage between the classical heritage of the Arab past and the creativity of the present—became more pressing and led in many regions to a reexamination of the balance between these two forces.

At the turn of the 21st century, the Arab creative writer operated at a local level within a social environment that, more often than not, constrained freedom of expression and indeed subjected literature to strict forms of censorship.

At certain points in the development of European civilization, the literary culture of Islam and its Arabic medium of expression came to be regarded not only as models for emulation but also, through vital conduits such as Moorish Spain and Norman Sicily, as direct sources of inspiration for the intellectual communities of Europe.