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This chapter addresses how Arabic, besides being the scriptural and liturgical language of Islam, came to be the lingua franca of a world empire and its literary heritage. The chapter is divided into two parts, with the first subdivided into three sections examining the professional and literary careers of three chancellery secretaries of the late Umayyad empire, namely, Sālim Abū-l-ʿAlāʾ, ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd al-Kātib, and Ibn-al-Muqaffaʿ, who briefly also served the early ʿAbbāsid dynasty; and how their contributions, both of translations and original works, laid the foundations of Islamicate imperial culture and of adab literature—a new style of Arabic written prose which, by way of translation, was to become part of premodern world literature. The second part of the chapter provides a brief survey of the genres, subgenres, and audiences of the literatures of adab within the Arabic literary tradition of the Middle Ages.
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