Arabic literature | donkeytime.orgHe was the Voltaire of his time. In fact, there are only two sects in the whole world: 'One, man intelligent without religion, the second, religious without intellect'. In the epistle, al Maarri considers the works and thoughts of some of the great poets and thinkers who preceded him. With his great erudition and mastery of language, coupled with a biting sense of irony, he challenges and refutes their views and is critical of many aspects of accepted orthodox belief. Once banned in Algeria and decapitated almost a thousand years after his birth in his home town, Abu Al Alaa Al Maarri is widely read in the Arab world, and many Arabs acknowledge him as one of their greatest literary figures.
Five essential works of Arabic literature
The first significant Arabic literature was produced during the medieval golden age of lyric poetry, from the 4th to the 7th cent. The poems are strongly personal qasida, or odes, often very short, with some longer than lines. They treat the life of the tribe and themes of love, fighting, courage, and the chase. The poet speaks directly, not romantically, of nature and the power of God. The qasida survive only through collections, chiefly the Muallaqat , Hamasa , Mufaddaliyat , and Kitab al-Aghani.
Get The Lithub Daily
Book Haul #1 - Arabic novels, etc.
The Arabic word used for literature is " Adab " , which is derived from a meaning of etiquette , and which implies politeness, culture and enrichment. Arabic literature emerged in the 5th century with only fragments of the written language appearing before then. The Qur'an , widely regarded 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. The Qur'an had a significant influence on the Arab language. The language used in it is called classical Arabic , and while modern Arabic is very similar, the classical has social prestige.
There is perhaps no other literature so closely allied to the history of its people as is that of the Arabs. The monotony of nomadic life, the rise of Islam, the Arab conquests, the imperial luxury of early Abbasids, the interaction and cross fertilization with other civilizations notably in Spain , the decline and overthrow of the Caliphate, the period of cultural stagnation, the reactions and inspirations owing to the colonial encounter, and the eventual reawakening of the Arab world to form the vibrant independent states of today—these are all faithfully reflected in Arabic literature, the ups and downs of which parallel the fortunes of the Arabs themselves. This remarkable work, in the words of H. Of many authors we possess only small fragments, and the great majority would otherwise have been completely unknown to us even by name. Comparison could be made here with the corpus of Old English literature dating from the same time as the greatest period of Arab culture and also incomplete.