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The world holds two classes of men; intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.

Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri (December 973May 1057) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet, and writer.


  • If you will do some deed before you die,
    Remember not this caravan of death,
    But have belief that every little breath
    Will stay with you for an eternity.
    • As quoted in The Diwan of Abu'l-Ala (1909) by Henry Baerlein, XLVII
  • They recite their sacred books, although the fact informs me that these are a fiction from first to last. O Reason, thou (alone) speakest the truth. Then perish the fools who forged the (religious) traditions or interpreted them!
  • The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts:
    Those with brains, but no religion,
    And those with religion, but no brains.
    • As quoted in The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1984) by Amin Maalouf, p. 37
    • Original: اِثْنَانِ أَهْلُ الْأَرْضِ ذُو عَقْلٍ بِلَا دِينٍ وَآخَرُ دَيِّنٌ لَا عَقْلَ لَهُ
    • Variant translations:
    • The world holds two classes of men; intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.
      • A Short History of Freethought Ancient and Modern (1906) by John Mackinnon Robertson, Vol. I, Ch. VIII: Freethought under Islam, p. 269
    • The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.
      • This form of the statement has been most commonly misattributed — to Avicenna, in A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, and Science (1950) by Joseph McCabe, p. 43, and later to Averroes, in The Atheist World‎ (1991) by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, p. 46.
  • Do not unjustly eat fish the water has given up,
And do not desire as food the flesh of slaughtered animals,
Or the white milk of mothers who intended its pure draught
for their young, not noble ladies.
And do not grieve the unsuspecting birds by taking eggs;
for injustice is the worst of crimes.
And spare the honey which the bees get industriously
from the flowers of fragrant plants;
For they did not store it that it might belong to others,
Nor did they gather it for bounty and gifts.
I washed my hands of all this; and wish that I
Perceived my way before my hair went gray!

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