Every once in a while you stumble across a piece of text that makes you ponder over your life, your actions and everything else. Forty Rules of Love is just the right example for this.
The story line revolves around Ella, a literary agent belonging to a troubled family, who is given a book on Sufism (Sweet Blasphemy) to read and analyze. The story takes us back to Rumi’s time where he meets his destined companion named Shams of Tabriz. For some unknown reason, I have always wanted to learn about Sufism, but I was a little afraid that it might mess up with my head. I have spent a lot of time reading Rumi’s quotes and getting fascinated by the ecstatic dances of whirling dervishes. I was unsure about whether I should read this or not but I just couldn’t resist anymore. The book touches two kinds of love; the love you have for your fellow human beings and the love built over your relationship with God.
Elif, being a pro at the art of storytelling writes with an impressive written expression that captures a reader’s attention. In different chapters, the author writes through the perspective of different characters, so at times you’ll read the story from a prostitute’s point of view, at times you’ll see the world through a beggar’s eyes and at times you’ll be in Ella’s shoes. Reading from the perspective of some specific characters might become monotonous but the other captivating characters will cover up for it.
The book also touches sensitive topics like our misplaced concept of blasphemy, the thin line between losing yourself in God and losing your mind and also mentions spellbinding events from Islamic history as evidences. You might find some of the historic references grey, but at the same time, you will come across several intriguing stories that will make you wish to know more. There will be things written in this book that you will not agree with, and you might even think about discontinuing the book. Don’t do it, because this can prove to be crucial for the enhancement of your critical thinking. So don’t get infuriated, just go with the flow.
Derived by Shams of Tabriz, the book mentions forty mesmerizing rules of love for God, covering topics like ego, hopelessness, self-examination, solitude etc. Each one of them will tug right at your heart strings. Here are a few quotes that made me fall in love with the book, just at the beginning.
“No matter who we are or where we live, deep inside we all feel incomplete. It’s like we have lost something and need to get it back. Just what that something is, most of us never find out. And of those who do, even fewer manage to go out and look for it.”
“You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined to a mosque, synagogue, or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him: in the heart of a true lover. There is no one who has lived after seeing Him, just like there is no one who has died after seeing Him. Whoever finds Him will remain with Him forever.”
“Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.”
“Some people make the mistake of confusing ‘submission’ with ‘weakness,’ whereas it is anything but. Submission is a form of peaceful acceptance of the terms of the universe, including the things we are currently unable to change or comprehend.”
There is so much about this book that I want to discuss I am not going to spoil it for anyone reading this here.
For a person like me who has never been really religious but has wished to be closer to God, this book proved to be a good read. It’s a book that will help you explore yourself because sometimes the heartfelt pondering, drawn out by reading a piece of text, makes you question yourself in ways that can be potentially useful in a person’s mental growth. But make sure you do not read this book at a stage of your life when you are already questioning everything about love, religion or even family, because in that case, you will only end up overthinking and probably crying yourself to sleep after completing the book.