“I love you, my brother, whoever you are–whether you worship in your church, kneel in your temple, or pray in your mosque. You and I are all children of one faith, for the divers paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all.”
Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
This is a lesser-known excerpt from “The Voice of the Master”, written by the well-known Lebanese poet, writer, philosopher and artist Kahlil Gibran. Gibran’s writings, poetry and sayings are exquisite, inspirational, timeless, universal and spiritual by nature, as reflected in the above quotation.
I fell in love with his poetry after coming across and purchasing a copy of “The Prophet”, at the bookstore in my local mall. Gibran wrote “The Prophet”, which has been an international best seller for more than forty years, and which was primarily written for his English readers. This book of poetry became a constant companion for me, during some difficult periods in my life, when I was questioning many things and embarking on my own journey of self-discovery.
It gave me “food for thought” and inspired me to reflect upon many things and to do a lot of soul searching. It also enriched and uplifted my heart, mind and spirit and brought new understanding to my soul. Above all, it introduced me to one of the most gifted, profound and inspired thinker and poet that I have ever read.
I eventually started acquiring some of his books wherever I could find them. My personal collection includes “Thoughts and Meditations”, “The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran” and “Jesus, the Son of Man”, which I had to pre-order at the bookstore, since many of his works are out of circulation.
Kahlil Gibran was born December 6, 1883, into a Maronite Christian family, at Bcherri in the Republic of Lebanon, formerly Syria-Phoenicia. Gibran moved with his mother Kamila, his older half- brother Peter and two sisters Mariana and Sultana, to Boston in the United States, when he was only 12 years old. At the age of 14, he returned to Lebanon for five years, to complete his education. He travelled all over Lebanon, Syria and Palestine with his father during the summer. Eventually, he left for Greece, Italy and Spain and then went to Paris to study art. Gibran returned to Boston two years later. He then lost his mother, brother and sister Sultana, to tuberculosis. Gibran never married and he never had any children. He died on April 10, 1931 at the age of 47.
In this new millennium and century, Gibran’s writings are more relevant amidst our troubled times of war, numerous conflicts and the new era of globalization. His plea to us is that we are all brothers and sisters of one faith, and we should all love one another, no matter which path we choose to walk on, since we all emanate from the same Source. His insights and writings have much to offer us at the individual and at the global level, and also in the philosophical, political, economic and social realms. They also shed light for us, on our lack of understanding and our ignorance of each other.
Samuel P Huntington, a political scientist, has suggested that we are experiencing “a clash of civilizations”. He takes a “we” versus “them” approach with respect to “the West” and “the Arab Muslim world”. Gibran views us as the global family of humankind, challenging us to love and respect each other, regardless of the perceived differences amongst ourselves. There are more similarities that hold the family of humankind together, than differences that separate us from one another.
It is our ignorance, lack of understanding, hate and also fear of the unknown that is the cause of many of the conflicts in the world today. Respect and tolerance for each other, unconditional love for “the other”, love of our neighbours, the exercise of mercy and compassion and our pursuit for truth and justice are some of the things that we can embrace, embody, and also adopt, to ensure that our homes, communities, countries and planet become a better place for us to live.
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