A review on “The 40 Rules of Love”

The 40 rules of love is a novel written by a female Turkish author “Elif Shafak”. This novel is one of the most celebrated fictions written by the author and is widely praised by the readers of different religious beliefs, which was unique and mind-boggling too. Because the novel deals with “Love”, “Spirituality”, and “Sufism”.

In the novel, two parallel stories are progressing together, one from the 21st century and other from the 13th century. And somehow both feel connected. This art of story in literature is called “juxtaposition”.

There are four main characters in the story; Ela, Aziz, Shams, and Rumi. This novel explains the love and companionship between “Shams of Tabriz” and “Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi”.

The people seem complete outside, but perhaps, are incomplete inside. No one is there tell them the truth. Same was the situation with Ela and Rumi. Ela was a middle-aged happily married woman and was ideal for all who met her and see her standing a bit far from her. Likewise, the Rumi was also leading a life which was complete and contented. However, both of them know, something is still missing. And that “something” can be felt, but can’t be explained into words, like the fourth stage of the understanding of the Quran, (the interesting four understanding levels of the Quran are given in the book). This “something” missing might be like a “mirror”.

As Rumi says in the book.

Bountiful is your life, full and complete. Or so you think, until someone comes along and makes you realize what you have been missing all this time. Like a mirror that reflects what is absent rather than present, he shows you the void in your soul—the void you have resisted seeing. That person can be a lover, a friend, or a spiritual master. Sometimes it can be a child to look after. What matters is to find the soul that will complete yours. All the prophets have given the same advice: Find the one who will be your mirror!

Ela had an ideal life, in the eyes of the society. In reality, she wasn’t happy and everything in her life was messed-up. Things and her behaviour dramatically change as she started reading a novel called—“Sweet Blasphemy”, which an agency sent to her, to write a report on it. This novel was written by A. Z. Zahara. She only knows the “Z” in the name of the author stands for “Aziz”.

The novel contained the story of “Love & Companionship” between Rumi and his teacher Shams. As she started reading the story, she began her communication with the author of the novel via email. She fell in love with Aziz, but she wasn’t aware of the fact he was on the terminal stage of cancer.

Before the arrival of Shams, Rumi was an established religious scholar. He was born with a silver spoon. He had a happy family, many disciples, and people came to listen to him in huge numbers. But he always lived away from the realities of the life, as a beggar says in the story, sitting inside the mosque—he is born with silver spoon, how can he understand the pain of a disease and difficulties in the life, about whom he is talking about? But when Shams came to his life, everything changes.

After the killing of Shams, he recalled the events that took place in his life due to Shams, and how those events changed him. One visible change was poetry and Rumi was called “The Sultan of Language”. Before Shams, he considers poetry a bad thing. But today the world knows Rumi as one of the best poets of all times.

The story has many dimensions and many layers. The reading of the full story will raise many questions; likewise, it also answers many curiosities.  And one thing is certain, in my view, this story will also bring you a little closer to Allah Almighty. It invites you to love the Allah Almighty rather than be afraid of Him.

As Shams of Tabriz says in the book.

Neither a grocer nor a clerk, my God is a magnificent God. A living God! Why would I want a dead God? Alive He is. His name is al-Hayy—the Ever-Living. Why would I wallow in endless fears and anxieties, always restricted by prohibitions and limitations? Infinitely compassionate He is. The name is al-Wadud. All-Praiseworthy He is. I praise Him with all my words and deeds, as naturally and effortlessly as I breathe. The name is al-Hamid.

The end of the story was a bit tragic. Shams was killed by the people, who felt Rumi is slipping away from them due to Shams. And Aziz died due to cancer, but Ela had already decided to leave his husband and kids, fully aware of the fact that Aziz will die soon. About cancer, Aziz told her before she left her husband and kids. In the end, both Rumi and Ela remained alone and lived the rest of their lives without their beloveds.

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