The Prophet النبي
by Khalil Gibran
The Alchemy of Happiness كيمياء السعادة
Originally written in Persian, this was the ultimate work of Persian theologian al-Ghazâli. This book was intended as a manual for living in accordance to sacred law (which to Ghazâli was the sunnah.) The alchemy here is “the spiritual alchemy that transforms the soul from worldliness to complete devotion to God,” and thereby way results in happiness.
Black, white and red are the 3 colors of alchemy (references to the stages of nigredo, rubedo, albedo). The design’s base is based on squares, referring to earth, the finite, but arcs of circles make up its upper part, evoking heaven and the infinite; a progression in line with the purpose of the book. The background of Ghazâli’s writings is Islamic theology and jurisprudence, hence the green, which also causes the red to fully stand out.
This design exists as a Limited Edition woodblock print.
The Book of Mirdad كتاب مرداد
by Mikhail Naimy
This philosophical novel runs quite parallel to Gibran’s Prophet in content and narration (the two authors were close friends). The book’s subtitle is: The Strange Story of a Monastery Which Was Once Called the Ark; the monastery in question is founded where Noah’s Ark came to rest, at the summit of a steep mountain. Biblical lore tells us that there were 8 people on the Ark, but this story introduces a stowaway, the 9th person to have survived the deluge, and for this reason there are always 8 monks in the monastery with the 9th as abbot. Mirdad is a stranger who wanders in one day while the monks await someone to take up the place of one of theirs who has passed away. After spending some years as the humblest of servants, he reveals himself as a spiritual teacher and gradually wins over all the others. In this way is Naimy’s life philosophy put down as a series of dialogs between Mirdad and his now-disciples.
I’m describing all this to explain the design. The mountain is obvious; the sun-like circle at the top is the letter Mîm reduced to its simplest essence. It stands for Mirdad and his enormous, radiant presence once unveiled. Curiously, the Arabic title of the book (which was originally written in English) contains exactly 9 letters: the mîm which stands out here in gold and the other 8. The 3 golden mîms on the cover form an equilateral triangle, another relationship to the number 9.