This timeless classic of mystic philosophy, written in 1923, has long been a favorite for contemplations, weddings and funerals. The story, subordinate to the philosophy, is of a prophet waiting for a ship to arrive and carry him away from the island where he has been living for the last twelve years. His voyage is apparently an allegory for death.
The villagers have gathered to see Almustafa, the Prophet, off on his journey and while they watch his ship grow nearer, they take turns asking him to speak on 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. Each of Almustafa’s responses to these questions is a chapter, a poem, a meditation.
Although the author uses the word “God” quite liberally, the text is not specific to any one religion nor is it intrusively preachy or pedantic. Rather it is uplifting and inspiring and even the spiritual atheist can find jewels of wisdom therein.