Mohamed Ali Eltaher2 (Aboul-Hassan)3 was born in 1896 in the city of Nablus (the ancient Roman town of Flavia Neapolis) in Palestine. One of four boys and three girls born to Aref Eltaher and Badia Kurdieh, some of them half brothers and sisters. It is believed that the Eltaher family roots go back to the Jaradat tribe, a descendent of Juhayna, a famous Arab tribe whose abode was the north western part of what is known today as Saudi Arabia.
Contrary to what several writers have indicated, Eltaher never went to school and whatever he learned was gleaned from a traditional Qoranic school (Kouttab in Arabic). Among the stories he shared with his son, he confided to him that he often skipped school to go and watch players play Draught games (Jeu de dames, or Dama in Arabic) in one of the many cafés of the Mansheyya and Ajami neighbourhoods of Jaffa, the city of his youth.