Al Maarri

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Maarri, Al


(full name, Abu al-Ala Ahmad ibn Abdullah ibn Sulayman al-Tanukhi al-Maarri). Born in 973 in Maarrat al-Numan, Syria; died there in 1057 or 1058. Arab poet and thinker.

The son of a philologist, al-Maarri became blind at the age of three. He considered himself a pupil of al-Mutanabbi, on whose diwan he wrote a commentary called Ahmad’s Miracle. Pantheistic, materialist, and atheistic tendencies were mingled in his outlook. Al-Maarri speaks as a humanist philosopher and critic of social injustice in his collection of verse Unnecessary Necessity. However, he held that injustice was an inevitable aspect of existence because it was inherent in the acts of god the creator. He extolled human reason as the source of knowledge but believed that the truth was unattainable. As a moralist he regarded service to humanity as the goal of life, and he preached moderation and restraint. In his prose works Epistle on Forgiveness (1033; published, 1903) and Epistle on Angels (Russian translation, 1932), he ridiculed the idea of the immortality of the soul and the Koranic conceptions of life beyond the grave, holding that the earth arose through a natural process. Al-Maarri wrote in a complex style, often employing word play.


In Russian translation:
Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1971.


Krymskii, A. E. Arabskaia literatura v ocherkakh i obraztsakh. mOSCOW, 1911.
Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Izbr. soch., vols. 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955-56.
Shiroian, S. G. Velikii arabskii poet i myslitel’ Abu-al Ala al-Maarri. Moscow, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.