Arabic was confined to Arabia till the early 730's. However with the spread of Islam Arabic unified and started to spread rapidly, thereby becoming the second language in many Muslim countries around the world. Gutas states that "Although by 732 the new empire that was founded on and organized in accordance with the religion revealed to Prophet Muhammad, Islam, was to extend yet further afield - from Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent to Spain and the Pyrenees - the heart of the new civilization which it generated lay in the centers of ancient civilization, from Persia through Mesopotamia and Syro-Palestine to Egypt".
Recorded translation of Greek works to Arabic dates back to the eight and early ninth century AD, under the Abbasid rule. This translation movement reached its peak under the rule of Caliph Al-Ma'mun, the seventh Abbasid caliph. During this age, also called the Islamic Golden Age, Bayt al-Hikma or The House of Wisdom was founded by Caliph Harun al-Rashid, father of Caliph Al-Ma'mun. Caliph Al-Ma'mun encouraged translators to translate Greek scientific works, especially in the fields of astronomy and medicine, to Arabic.
Authors that were translated in the House of Wisdom included Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Euclid, Plotinus, Galen, Sushruta, Charaka, Aryabhata and Brahmagupta. Notable amongst these for his medical works was Galen, a prominent Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire. Much of his work was translated into Arabic at The House of Wisdom. Notable medical translators of the time were Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809-873) (who was himself a physician), Thabit ibn Qurra (836-901) and al-Hajjaj ibn Matar (786-833).
From ninth to thirteenth centuries, Arabic translators played a key role in transferring the knowledge of science and medicine to Europe through Arabic translation. Arabic translators transferred scientific and medical knowledge from Greek, Persian and Indian into Arabic, Latin, Hebrew, Chinese and European languages. In eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries a lot of scientific works were also translated from Arabic to Latin.
Modern Arabic translation started in the nineteenth and twentieth century. During the mid twentieth and twenty first centuries, knowledge was transferred through translation from English, French and Italian texts to Arabic. The scientific revolution of these centuries was majorly in the English language. This led to the era of English Arabic translation which allowed transfer of the new upcoming technologies into the Arab world.
Under the leadership of Mohammed Ali, Rifaa al-Tahtawi, a notable translator of the time, became the leader of the modern translation movement. He founded the Qalam al-Tarjama (Translation Department) in 1841. This translation movement unlike the previous translation movement, covered many fields of arts and sciences. It is believed that al-Tahtawi and his pupils translated over 2000 texts into Arabic and Turkish languages.
This Arabic English translation movement bought new technologies to the Arab world as well. Science, medicine and technology texts were the major texts that were targeted for translation. This also led to the borrowing of a large number of technical terms from English to Arabic. Some of the common English terms which are widely used in Arabic language till date are television, computer, telephone and radio.