Almustafa, a prophet of God who has come down from the hill to embark on the ship that will take him to the land of his birth. He has dwelled among the Orphalese for twelve years, has fathered children, and has known long days of pain and long nights alone. He has acquired the love of the people, who regard him as the “Chosen,” but he is a seafarer and traveler, and it is time to depart. In his demeanor, his language, and his relationship to his listeners, Almustafa bears a close resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth. By using a biblical setting, the book lends moral force to what the Prophet says. Almustafa is a mystic whose wisdom has been gleaned from much observation. In nature, he sees a revelation of all of his truths, and he takes from nature a rich array of imagery to convey his teaching. Whereas Christ spoke in parables, Almustafa employs paradoxical examples to illustrate his thoughts and find understanding and acceptance, yet his simple language makes his teachings accessible to all those who come to hear him speak. He delivers his wisdom on more than two dozen topics. The seeress Almitra asks him to speak of love and marriage. A mother wants the truth about children; a rich man, of giving; an innkeeper, of eating and drinking; a mason, of houses; and a hermit, of pleasure. Other subjects include the ordinary—clothes, talking, and buying and selling—and the lofty and timeless—freedom, good and evil, beauty, pleasure, friendship, time, and, inevitably, death. The people who seek the wisdom of the Prophet are only names of types or occupations: a ploughman, an elder, a lawyer, a weaver,...
(The entire section is 665 words.)