21 Facts About Al-Ma'arri


Al-Ma'arri was pessimistic about life, describing himself as "a double prisoner" of blindness and isolation.

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Al-Ma'arri attacked religious dogmas and practices, was equally critical and sarcastic about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism, and became a deist.

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Al-Ma'arri advocated social justice and lived a secluded, ascetic lifestyle.

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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.

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Al-Ma'arri wrote three main works that were popular in his time: The Tinder Spark, Unnecessary Necessity, and The Epistle of Forgiveness.

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Al-Ma'arri never married and died at the age of 83 in the city where he was born, Ma'arrat al-Nu'man.

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Al-Ma'arri was a member of the Banu Sulayman, a notable family of Ma'arra, belonging to the larger Tanukh tribe.

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Al-Ma'arri lost his eyesight at the age of four due to smallpox.

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Al-Ma'arri started his career as a poet at an early age, at about 11 or 12 years old.

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Al-Ma'arri was educated at first in Ma'arra and Aleppo, later in Antioch and other Syrian cities.

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Al-Ma'arri returned to his native town of Ma'arra in about 1010 and learned that his mother had died before his arrival.

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Al-Ma'arri remained in Ma'arra for the rest of his life, where he opted for an ascetic lifestyle, refusing to sell his poems, living in seclusion and observing a strict moral vegetarian diet.

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Al-Ma'arri enjoyed great respect and attracted many students locally, as well as actively holding correspondence with scholars abroad.

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Al-Ma'arri was a skeptic in his beliefs who denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion.

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Al-Ma'arri taught that religion was a "fable invented by the ancients", worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses.

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Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called "a pagan's journey".

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Al-Ma'arri rejected claims of any divine revelation and his creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.

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Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians.

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Al-Ma'arri was an ascetic, renouncing worldly desires and living secluded from others while producing his works.

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Al-Ma'arri is controversial even today as he was skeptical of Islam, the dominant religion of the Arab world.

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Al-Ma'arri's third famous work is a work of prose known as The Epistle of Forgiveness .

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