Works that Shaped the World: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Almustafa (1923) by Kahlil Gibran, public domain
Almustafa (1923) by Kahlil Gibran, public domain

In 2022, the HRC’s Works that Shaped the World public lecture series focuses on religion.

Kahlil Gibran’s book-length mystical poem, The Prophet, is one of the most popular but critically neglected modern religious and literary texts. First published in 1923, and selling in the tens of millions, The Prophet was hailed as the bible of the 1960s counterculture for its syncretic spiritual message with traces of anti-clerical Christianity, Romanticism, Sufism and Theosophy.

Today, it is in perfect harmony with the individualistic and therapeutic spirituality prevalent in the West, with the sacred located in the self. And yet, beyond the fawning Lebanese diaspora, scholars and critics have had little to say about The Prophet, other than occasionally presenting it as a counterpoint to elitist academic poetry.

This public lecture will explore the context, content, reception and relevance of The Prophet, as well as the tragic life of its author, who once wrote, “the difference between a prophet and a poet is that the prophet lives what he teaches – and the poet does not.”


Ibrahim Abraham is the Hans Mol Research Fellow in Religion and the Social Sciences in the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University. His most recent book is Race, Class and Christianity in South Africa (Routledge, 2021).


Works that Shaped the World: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Date & time

Fri 10 Jun 2022, 5–6pm




Dr Ibrahim Abraham (Humanities Research Centre, ANU)


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