From the day our body, soul and mind start intriguing us about all things existent, we search for our own gates of knowledge. Within the confinement of our earliest years on this earth we seek knowledge from the ones who taught us how to first smile, crawl, walk and talk. This burden usually falls upon our own up-bringers. They say we always aspire to be teachers before anything else, I say this entirely depends on the qualities and characteristics of our first teacher. It isn’t with choice that we decide who takes upon this challenge of laying the foundations of our pyramidal knowledge. Here is a short narrative about my first teacher:

My first teacher taught me how to stimulate my senses to seek comprehension; he inspired me to push the limits of my own abilities in the mission to seek resolutions. My teacher never gave me his thoughts, but rather drove me to develop my own. He might have talked about law, love, fear, joy and sorrow, but he never confined them. He drew no boundaries for my own thinking and spoke of thy freedom of opinion. He shared stories that left me in tears and others with jaw hurting smiles. He was no madman, but never minded playing that role if it meant I comprehend faster. He once told me “Say not, I have found the truth, but rather, ‘I have found a truth’” for truth is subjective. He wasn’t the most romantic teacher, but he fathomed what to say of love. He accentuated that love is a sole entity that mustn’t be influenced: “And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.” To me, my teacher was the prophet that I never wanted or asked for, and the teacher that beat them all.

His name is Khalil Gibran, born and raised in Lebanon generations before I was born.

“If he [a teacher] is indeed wise, he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but he rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.” – The Prophet

Born in January 1883, Gibran has become an iconic symbol of the ideal teacher I failed to physically encounter for 25 years. Through an iconic selection of poetic and artistic books written in both English and Arabic (and later translated to many others) he has captured my inner desire to seek knowledge beyond the bounds of books and the walls of institutes. His literature seeks not to teach me, but rather leads me to question what I am being taught, including that of his own works. I always found it hard to put the inspiration that his work has pitched upon me in words. His literature expanded whatever finite big picture I had of life to one with infinite culminations.

Gibran wrote to inspire from a very young age and his philosophical mindset peaked after moving to the United States. He is most popular for The Prophet, a book that he wrote and rewrote multiple times until he fully triumphed in translating his vision to enigmatic reality. He is my inspiration, and I hope one day he will be yours.

I often hear that “Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads.”, a common saying that bears no relevance to his figure, for Lebanon has produced the worlds most renowned and erudite scholars.

– Ali Tawfiq

This article has 2 comments

  1. Sofía Gaspar Reply

    Wow, Ali. Wow. That’s what your writings provoque me. Astonishment and admiration. Not only I love the beauty of the way you put Life in words, but I also share this love you have for Gibran. You make me feel proud of the person you are, you really do, love. I enjoy a lot reading what you have to say to this World so if you don’t mind…. Don’t stop, please.

    • atawfiq Reply

      Sofia, thank you for your beautiful words, it really means so much to me. I am delighted to hear that some of what I write inspires people, its internally fulfilling. Proud of you dear Sofia.

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