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**Biography of al-Ma’arri**:
– Born in al-Maarra, Syria, in December 973
– Member of the Banu Sulayman family, part of the Tanukh tribe
– Lost eyesight at age four due to smallpox
– Started career as a poet at 11 or 12 years old
– Lived an ascetic lifestyle in Maarra until his death in May 1057

**Philosophy and Views**:
– Denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion
– Emphasized reason over traditions
– Criticized dogmas of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity
– Rejected claims of divine revelation
– Believed organized religion divided people based on brains and religion

**Asceticism and Lifestyle**:
– Renounced worldly desires and lived in seclusion
– Opposed all forms of violence
– Refused to sell his texts in Baghdad
– Chose a secluded life despite respect and wealth
– Lifestyle compared to similar thought in India during his time

**Advocacy for Animals**:
– Became a practicing vegan later in life
– Advocated against consuming meat and animal products
– Urged against exploiting animals for human consumption
– Expressed regret for not adopting a vegan lifestyle earlier
– Wrote about the injustice of exploiting animals

**Legacy and Influence**:
– Controversial due to skepticism of Islam
– Parallels drawn between his work and other philosophers
– Works compared to Divine Comedy and Ibn Shuhayd’s writings
– Linked to inspiring Dante’s Divine Comedy
– Taha Hussein compared Kafka’s work to al-Maari’s philosophy

al-Ma'arri (Wikipedia)

Abū al-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (Arabic: أبو العلاء المعري, full name أبو العلاء أحمد بن عبد الله بن سليمان التنوخي المعري Abū al-ʿAlāʾ Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sulaymān al-Tanūkhī al-Maʿarrī, also known under his Latin name Abulola Moarrensis; December 973 – May 1057) was a philosopher, poet, and writer from Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, Syria. Because of his controversially irreligious worldview, he is known as one of the "foremost atheists" of his time according to Nasser Rabbat.

Abu al-'Ala' al-Ma'arri
al-Ma'arri by Kahlil Gibran
BornDecember 973
DiedMay 1057 (aged 83)
Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, Mirdasid Emirate of Aleppo
EraMedieval era
RegionMiddle Eastern philosophy
Main interests
Poetry, skepticism, ethics, antinatalism
Notable ideas

Born in the city of al-Ma'arra (present-day Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, Syria) during the later Abbasid era, he became blind at a young age from smallpox but nonetheless studied in nearby Aleppo, then in Tripoli and Antioch. Producing popular poems in Baghdad, he refused to sell his texts. In 1010, he returned to Syria after his mother began declining in health, and continued writing which gained him local respect.

Described as a "pessimistic freethinker", al-Ma'arri was a controversial rationalist of his time, rejecting superstition and dogmatism. His written works exhibit a fixation on the study of language and its historical development, known as philology. He was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation. He attacked religious dogmas and practices, was equally critical and sarcastic about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, and became a deist. He advocated social justice and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle. He was a vegan, known in his time as moral vegetarian, entreating: "do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals / Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught for their young". Al-Ma'arri held an antinatalist outlook, in line with his general pessimism, suggesting that children should not be born to spare them of the pains and suffering of life. Saqt az-Zand, Luzūmiyyāt, and Risalat al-Ghufran are among of his main works.

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