From a statue of the Lebanese-American writer and painter Gibran Khalil Gibran at the entrance to Bcharre in northern Lebanon, the visitor realizes that he has arrived in Muscat, the author of the famous book "The Prophet", which celebrates its centenary this year.

In the museum – which houses the remains of the author since his death in 1931 – copies of this book can be found in more than one language, as the great fame - which it enjoyed after it was published by the American house "Knopf" in September 1923 - prompted its translation into 115 languages, sold millions of copies, and became the favorite of millions of readers around the world.

Joseph Geagea, director of the Gibran Khalil Gibran Museum, said the book "approaches the spirit of each individual by addressing the themes of death, life, friendship, love, children and others, so that every reader wherever he finds that this book means him and touches him at the core."

The author, who wrote in "The Prophet" the phrase "Woe to a nation in which sects and sects abound and are devoid of religion", has a large collection of sayings, some of which are at the top of the outer wall of the museum.

Global reach

Alexandre Najjar, the Lebanese writer and novelist in French, recalled – during an evening of readings from the Prophet held recently in Beirut – that the book won in the sixties of the last century the admiration of academics and the "hippie" movement, which was attracted by his famous phrase "Your children are not yours".

World leaders and celebrities such as Empress Michiko of Japan, the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Beatles member John Lennon, singer Johnny Cash and others have attached to the book, Geagea said.

American rock star Elvis Presley "took notes and gave it to his friends and considered to be the heart of his life," Najjar said.

Najjar believes that the style of the book "reminds the Bible similar to the phrase "Truth I say to you" with which Christ was addressing his disciples, and also approaches the book "Thus spoke Zarathustra" by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, but Gibran appeared in his book "more poetic and less philosophy", noting that in the "Prophet" images "derived from the world of mysticism".

Lebanese Francophone writer and illustrator Zeina Abi Rached, who recently published a book in French in which she turned "The Prophet" into a 400-page comic story, believes that "Gibran's text is not like other texts, it was a beautiful challenge," stressing the importance of "republishing it in a different way so that the new generation of Lebanese and non-Lebanese can discover it."

Gibran Museum among the mountains in Bcharre, northern Lebanon (Shutterstock)

Gibran Museum

On a table in one of the museum's rooms – in Bcharre, where Gibran was born in 1883 – the first translations of the book "The Prophet" are displayed, amounting to 11 during the period from 1923 to 1931, most notably in German and Dutch, and the museum includes 53 translations, including also Swedish, Chinese and Norwegian.

The Gibran Museum was built in the Mar Sarkis Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers, which was built at the beginning of the 18th century, and the place overlooks Mount Al-Mukamil on the left side and the Qadisha Valley on the right, surrounded by a forest dominated by oak trees.

Jean-Pierre Rahma, who works at the museum, says that Gibran, the young man, always frequented the monastery and painted its head with charcoal sitting on the terrace in front of its main entrance.

Joseph Geagea also explains that "Gibran's strong desire to return to Bcharre existed after he abandoned her at the age of 12 with his mother, brother and two sisters, but he died" before fulfilling this desire.

After his death, the monks agreed to sell the monastery and the surrounding land to his sister Mariana, and it was turned into a burial place in August 1931 and then a museum of his plastic works, manuscripts and collectibles in 1975.

The museum displays 150 paintings of Gibran out of 440 it holds, in addition to a thousand books distributed over the rooms on the three floors of the museum.

Translations of the book "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran in several languages in his museum in his hometown of Bcharre (French)

Geagea points out that Gibran's beginning with drawing was with pencil and charcoal, and in the year of his death he returned to black and white, but whatever the technique used in it, his paintings carry in varying sizes "his deep spiritual view of existence, to death and life at the same time", nature is the basis in the product of his feather "is the mother who fosters all beings, is the earth, is the woman who stood by him," according to Geagea.


The museum houses portraits of friends and personalities Gibran knew, including May Ziadeh, with whom he had a platonic love, Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, French poet Edmond Rostan, writer of the play "Cyrano de Bergerac", Indian philosopher Tagore, American writer Charlotte Teller, and others.

Rabah Zarif, director general of the Etienne Dinène National Museum in Algeria, who was visiting the museum, said, "It is as if Gibran, when he was unable to express in writing, resorted to painting, and vice versa, his paintings are open texts."

Zarif believes that Gibran's paintings, a number of which are distributed in international museums, "carry visionary ideas that exceeded his time," as he described.

  • The movement of visitors to the museum has been affected for weeks by the tension in Lebanon against the backdrop of Israel's war on Gaza, but when the situation is stable, the number of visitors reaches 50,<> annually, according to Geagea, who explains that "the museum receives European visitors in the spring, and in the summer the Lebanese expatriates come, and the turnout reaches its peak, and between these two seasons, the museum goes to tourists from Arab countries," as well as visitors from the United States, Canada, Latin America and Australia, while the movement declines in the winter.

They visit Gibran's burial ground inside a cave carved into the rock, where a portrait of him was placed by the Lebanese painter Youssef Howayek.

In one of the halls were furniture and objects from Gibran's home in New York: a teapot on a low table, a wooden chair and a mirror with a bronze frame, and Gibran was collecting crosses and masks.

His library is divided into 4 rooms, and includes Victor Ogo's collection "Les Misérables", Sherlock Holmes stories, and historical, theological and philosophical books.

The museum has been equipped with machines that modify the temperature and humidity to preserve the paintings and contents, and its management has been managing for 10 years "automating and modernizing operations through the audio guide device and explanatory signs hanging on the wall."

The museum has several publications and cooperates with museums abroad to hold exhibitions of Gibran's paintings, collectibles and manuscripts.

The management of the Gibran Museum prepared to participate for a year and a half in an exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on the occasion of the centenary of the "Prophet".

Numerous translations of the book "The Prophet", which includes philosophical and social reflections by Gibran Khalil Gibran (French)

Geagea explained that the museum "selected 23 paintings relative to 2023, including those representing people who had a key role in the book "The Prophet", such as Gibran's mother, who is its main supporter."

The museum participated with dozens of Gibran's paintings in an exhibition held in New York that included about 110 Gibran paintings found in American museums.

Geagea reveals that Brazil issued a postage stamp on the occasion of the centenary, and the centennial activities end with participation in the recently opened Sharjah International Book Fair, and in a conference on Gibran at Sofia University in Bulgaria last December.

This global status of Khalil Gibran is a source of pride for Bcharre and all of Lebanon.

Near the small house where a child lived in Bcharre Square, and whose neglected garden is now a bust erected on a marble pedestal – lives in charge of the house, Nayla Kayrouz, who makes sure to look out of her nearby balcony to check on it even if she is on vacation.

"What does Gibran mean to me? I consider it a lot of cedar in Lebanon."