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Kahlil Gibran Biography

Birth and Childhood (1883-1895)

Gibran Khalil Gibran was born on January 6, 1883, to the Maronite family of Gibran in Bsharri, a mountainous area in Northern Lebanon.

Lebanon was a Turkish province part of Greater Syria (Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) and subjugated to Ottoman dominion, which granted the Mount Lebanon area autonomous rule. The people of Mount Lebanon had struggled for several years to gain independence from the Ottoman rule, a cause Gibran was later to adopt and become an active member in. The Mount Lebanon area was a troubled region, due to the various outside and foreign interferences that fostered religious hatred between the Christian, especially the Maronite sect, and Moslem populations. Later in his life, Gibran was to seek and unite the various religious sects, in a bid to abolish the religious snobbery, persecution and atrocities witnessed at his time. The Maronite sect, formed during the schism in the Byzantine church in the 5th century A.D., was made up of a group of Syrian Christians, who joined the monk St. Marun to lead their own sectarian thought.

His mother Kamila Rahmeh was thirty when she begot Gibran from her third husband Khalil Gibran, who proved to be an irresponsible husband leading the family to poverty. Gibran had a half-brother six years older than him called Peter and two younger sisters, Mariana and Sultana, whom he was deeply attached to throughout his life, along with his mother. Kamilaís family came from a prestigious religious background, which imbued the uneducated mother with a strong will and later on helped her raise up the family on her own in the U.S.

Growing up in the lush region of Bsharri, Gibran proved to be a solitary and pensive child who relished the natural surroundings of the cascading falls, the rugged cliffs and the neighboring green cedars, the beauty of which emerged as a dramatic and symbolic influence to his drawings and writings. Being laden with poverty, he did not receive any formal education or learning, which was limited to regular visits to a village priest who doctrined him with the essentials of religion and the Bible, alongside Syriac and Arabic languages. Recognizing Gibranís inquisitive and alert nature, the priest began teaching him the rudiments of alphabet and language, opening up to Gibran the world of history, science, and language. At the age of ten, Gibran fell off a cliff, wounding his left shoulder, which remained weak for the rest of his life ever since this incident. To relocate the shoulder, his family strapped it to a cross and wrapped it up for forty days, a symbolic incident reminiscent of Christís wanderings in the wilderness and which remained etched in Gibranís memory.

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