The Prophet (book)

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The Prophet
The Prophet (Gibran).jpg
First edition cover
AuthorKahlil Gibran
Cover artistKahlil Gibran
CountryUnited States
SubjectLife and the human condition
Genreprose poetry
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf
Publication date
Media typeBook
Followed byThe Garden of the Prophet

The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry fables written in English by the Lebanese-American poet and writer Kahlil Gibran.[1] It was originally published in 1923 by Alfred A. Knopf. It is Gibran's best known work. The Prophet has been translated into over 40 different languages[2] and has never been out of print.[3]


The prophet, Almustafa, has lived in the city of Orphalese for 12 years and is about to board a ship which will carry him home. He is stopped by a group of people, with whom he discusses topics such as life and the human condition. The book is divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, houses, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.


The Prophet has been translated into well over 40 languages.[4] By 2012, it had sold more than nine million copies in its American edition alone since its original publication in 1923.[4]

Of an ambitious first printing of 2,000 in 1923, Knopf sold 1,159 copies. The demand for The Prophet doubled the following year — and doubled again the year after that. Since then, annual sales have risen steadily: from 12,000 in 1935 to 111,000 in 1961 to 240,000 in 1965.[5] The book sold its one millionth copy in 1957.[6] At one point, The Prophet sold more than 5000 copies a week worldwide.[5]


Though born a Maronite, Gibran was influenced not only by his own religion but also by Islam, and especially by the mysticism of the Sufis. His knowledge of Lebanon's bloody history, with its destructive factional struggles, strengthened his belief in the fundamental unity of religions, which his parents exemplified by welcoming people of various religions in their home.[7]:p55 Connections and parallels have also been made to William Blake's work,[8] as well as the theological ideas of Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson such as reincarnation and the Over-soul. Themes of influence in his work were Islamic/Arabic art, European Classicism (particularly Leonardo Da Vinci) and Romanticism (Blake and Auguste Rodin), the pre-Raphelite Brotherhood, and more modern symbolism and surrealism.[9]

Gibran had a number of strong connections to the Bahá'í Faith starting around 1912. One of Gibran's acquaintances, Juliet Thompson, reported several anecdotes relating to Gibran. She recalled Gibran had met 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the leader of the religion at the time of his journeys to the West[10][11] Gibran was unable to sleep the night before meeting him in person to draw his portrait in April 1912 on the island of Manhattan.[7]:p253 Gibran later told Thompson that in 'Abdu'l-Bahá he had "seen the Unseen, and been filled".[7]:p126[12] Gibran began work on the book The Prophet, in 1912 when "he got the first motif, for his Island God" whose 'Prometheus exile shall be an Island one.”[7]:p165 In 1928,[13] after the death of `Abdu'l-Bahá, at a viewing of a movie of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Gibran rose to talk and proclaimed in tears an exalted station of `Abdu'l-Bahá and left the event weeping still.[11]

Royalties and copyright control[edit]

Cover of the 1973 edition

The book will be in the public domain in the United States on January 1, 2019[14] although it is already in the public domain in the European Union,[15] Canada,[16] Russia,[17] South Africa,[18] and Australia.[19]

Gibran instructed that on his death the royalties and copyrights to his materials be owned by his hometown, Bsharri, Lebanon.[5] The Gibran National Committee (GNC), in Bsharri, manages the Gibran Museum. Founded in 1935, the GNC is a non-profit corporation holding the exclusive rights to manage the Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran's copyright in and to his literary and artistic works.[20] In 2009, the GNC granted exclusive rights to create a film based on The Prophet to Gibran: The Prophet, LLC, a group in the United States.

The Garden of The Prophet[edit]

Gibran followed The Prophet with The Garden of The Prophet, which was published posthumously in 1933.

The Garden of the Prophet narrates Almustafa's discussions with nine disciples following Almustafa's return after an intervening absence.


  • 1973 – The Profit; Albran's Serial, a parody published in 1973 by Price/Stern/Sloan, California, as written by the fictional Kehlog Albran (pseudonym for authors Martin A. Cohen and Sheldon Shacket). It reached fourth printing in 1981.[21]
  • 1974 – The Prophet by Khalil Gibran: A Musical Interpretation featuring Richard Harris. Music composed by Arif Mardin, Atlantic Records
  • 2002 – Electronic and new-age music composer Gandalf and narrator Thomas Klock created an audiobook CD with German version – Der Prophet – layered with music.
  • 2010 – The Propheteer; A book of political satire reimagining The Prophet as George W. Bush lecturing his cronies on the White House lawn while waiting for his chopper bound for Texas. ISBN 978-1-4502-6057-2
  • 2014 – Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet; Salma Hayek announced an animated feature film version of the book, with her serving as producer and as the voice of the character Karima. Each chapter was directed by an individual director, with The Lion King's Roger Allers overseeing the project.[22]


  1. ^ "Prophet Motive", Joan Acocella
  2. ^ "Source: The Arab American Dialogue, Vol". 1995-12-03. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  3. ^ Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet: Why is it so loved?, BBC News, 12 May 2012, accessed 12 May 2012
  4. ^ a b Acocella, Joan. "Prophet Motive". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  5. ^ a b c "Books: The Prophet's Profits". TIME. 1965-08-13. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  6. ^ Donald Adams (September 29, 1957). "Speaking of Books". New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Bushrui, Suheil B.; Jenkins, Joe (1998). Kahlil Gibran, Man and Poet: a New Biography. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1851682676.
  8. ^ Gibran Kahlil Gibran & William Blake:Poets of Peace and Redemption, by Edmond El Chidiac, 15 August 2008,
  9. ^ Curriculum Guide For the Film, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, by Journeys in Film, 2015
  10. ^ Cole, Juan. "Chronology of his Life". Juan Cole's Khalil Gibran Page – Writings, Paintings, Hotlinks, New Translations. Professor Juan R.I. Cole. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Thompson, Juliet (1978). "Juliet Remembers Gibran as told to Marzieh Gail". World Order. 12 (4). pp. 29–31.
  12. ^ Christopher G. White (30 July 2012). "Discovering Imageless Truths: The Baha'i pilgrimage of Juliet Thompson, Artist". In Leigh E. Schmidt; Sally M. Promey. American Religious Liberalism. Indiana University Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-253-00218-4.
  13. ^ "View Bahai (sic) film". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. 3 Mar 1928. p. 3. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  14. ^ Hirtle, Peter B. "Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States". Retrieved 25 March 2010. As a work published 1923–63 with renewed notice and copyright, it remains protected for 95 years from its publication date
  15. ^ Copyright Duration Directive The rights of authors are protected within their lifetime and for seventy years after their death
  16. ^ Canadian protection comprises the author's life and 50 years from the end of the calendar year of his or her death.
  17. ^ Russian law stipulates likewise
  18. ^ South African copyright law protects literary works for the author's life plus fifty years; see the Copyright Act, No. 98 of 1978, as amended Archived 2011-06-16 at the Wayback Machine..
  19. ^ Australian law stipulates life plus 70 years, since 2005. The law is not retroactive, and excludes works published in the lifetime of authors who died in 1956 or earlier
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-23. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
  21. ^ Siddharthan, Rahul (2002). The Profit, the book. Retrieved from
  22. ^ Ethan Minovitz, Ethan (24 February 2012). "Hayek, Allers To Animate The Prophet". Big Cartoon News. Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012.


  • 1973. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran; Published by Alfred A Knopf, Inc.; A Borzoi (hardcover) Book, ASIN: B004S0ZKJO

External links[edit]