Abu Al Alaa Al-Maari was a celebrated early 11th century Arab poet. 

His work is renowned for being daring, original and ahead of its time. Born into a highly respected family in Maʿarra, modern Maarrat al-Nuʿman, near the city of Aleppo in Syria, and virtually blind by the age of 4, Al Maari led a controversial life (to say the least). 

Here are 6 interesting facts about the highly acclaimed Arab poet:

1. He was vegan

Al Maari achieved certified gold hipster status by being one of the first-ever prominent vegans in history. He believed that no harm should ever befall any living creature, and thus adopted a vegan lifestyle in his thirties. 

In what some believe to be his most seminal work regarding veganism, titled I No Longer Steal From Nature, he expressed his abhorrence towards killing animals for food or sport, and protested consuming animal by-products.

2. He was an avowed pacifist

John Lennon doesn’t have a monopoly on world peace. Al Maari liked imagining "all the people living life in peace" way before the flower power movement. 

He discredited violence as a viable solution to any problem. 

3. He was openly atheist

Al Maari’s views on religion were considered heretical at the time, and are now considered polarizing, to put it mildly.

As a celebrated Arab poet, Al Maari’s opinions on religion are a subject of debate among Arab scholars. His skepticism is exemplified by his teachings to his numerous students. He told them that religion “was a fable invented by ancients." 

He specifically criticized religious traditions and customs, while appealing to reason and virtue as means to their own ends.

4. He was known for his despairing pessimism

There’s no doubt that Al Maari would’ve been Woody Allen’s No. 1 fan.

The Poet was notoriously famous for his despairing pessimism, so much that he was referred to as the “double prisoner” by his students – the prisoner of blindness and proto-nihilistic isolation.

5. He adopted an ascetic lifestyle

Rejecting materialism is cool and all, if only the iPhone 8 wasn’t dropping soon ... right?

Not so for our hipster poet!

After the death of his mother in 1010, Al Maari adopted an ascetic lifestyle. He moved to a secluded cave where he renounced material possessions and worldly desires.

6. He was an anti-natalist

“This wrong was by my father done to me, but never by me to one.”

Al Maari wanted these words inscribed on his gravestone. He resented the fact that his father brought him into a world of misery and pain, and consequently vowed to never inflict that on any person ever. 

Things aren’t as black as Al Maari paints them to be. But let's be honest, sometimes shades of gray look an awful lot like the darkness portrayed in his writings.