I have seen people falling in Love and out of Love. Matches once being made in heaven are now arranged on Tinder. I wonder if matrimonial sites are any different from online shopping? I see the sunsets and sunrises waiting to be seen but do they know the corner seats in cinemas have already been booked? I see people misusing Love, abusing Love, running in the wrong direction, on a wrong path in the name of Love. And this is when I think that maybe delusions of handwritten notes and reading poetry do not exist in this world.

Maybe, I will always be the misfit who thinks Love is not what is being shown today. My idea regarding Love and life and the interconnection between them has greatly struggled with many changes after reading the book “The Forty Rules of Love” by a Turkish writer, Elif Shafak. The book seems like an over-dramatic love story, but the spirituality and the profoundness it contains are matchless.

A novel within a novel, The Forty Rules of Love, tells two parallel stories that mirror each other across two different cultures and seven intervening centuries. Yet, the writer has beautifully stitched together both the stories with a single conception of Love. The idea is perfected in this novel because Love is such that it is recognized in all languages, felt by all people, whether poor or rich and because Love lives right inside us.

A lot of us have known Love in the wrong meaning. When anyone talks about Love, the first ideas that come to our mind are about lovers maybe. Is that right? This novel has redefined this definition. It taught me that Love is the purest of all feelings and has no bounds. It is not constricted to lovers, parents, friends, or family; it is superior to everything. And most of all, it explicitly explains the Love of Allah SWT in a map of spirituality and mysticism. It gives the interpretations of God and Love by the magic of words.

The story revolves around a mystic dervish Shams and how he changed the life of an Islamic scholar Rumi. Many of us today are fascinated by Rumi’s interpretation of Love and life, using his quotations for statuses and displaying pictures on Facebook. Still, do we know where this character of Rumi sprouted from? This is where the books introduce us to a rule “Every true love and friendship is a story of complete transformation” If we are the same person before and after we’ve loved someone, we just haven’t loved enough. This concept defines how sacrificial and how pure our Love is. This is how Shams changed Rumi from an Islamic scholar to a poet who finally embraced the ideology of Love because where there is Love, there is pain.

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak (Book Review)

Where there is Love, there is sacrifice. Love is a word that often suffers from overuse, but when it comes to this book, it’s probably an understatement. The book combines two timespans, two myriads of dimensions, into a single stream of Love; I have never read anything this eye-opening and intriguing. Even though each of the forty rules by Shams is individually beautiful, I would discuss three particular rules that I felt most striking. The book introduces us to a rule that says, “No matter what your destination is, just be sure to make every journey a journey within.” This is how I learned to make the most of my time, make every second worth living, and make every moment count. Because each moment that passes by, you’ll never get it back again.

Though each of us is set apart by our goals and aims in life, we all converge at some point or the other in our paths. Our journeys are beautiful roads that untwirl in so many directions, unveil so many people, and most importantly, teach us lessons that we carry with us for a lifetime. Because after each destination, there will always be another mountain, but it’s not about how fast you reach your goal. It’s all about the path and the journey you make.

Talking of spirituality, Elif Shafak has mesmerizingly explained the Love of religion, which is the book’s main topic. She unveils another rule “If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather.” She expresses two contrasting ideas and tells us that one can achieve pure comfort and peace only if our faith is strong. We have to be soft inside.

We must learn to fill ourselves with Love, kindness, and gratitude. We are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgmental, yet some of us become harsher and rougher. The only way to get closer to the Divine Lord is to expand your heart to encompass all humanity and still have more room for Love. This is the actual softness you hold inside, and ultimately; it strengthens your faith. Because faith is that sunshine that reminds you- you have a purpose in life.

Be soft and gentle, and you will achieve that purpose. This rule significantly relates to the last rule I would like to share. “Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful.” Gratitude is the best manner, and this rule is so important for everyone struggling in life.

I know there have been times when we’ve been up at night, thinking of life. When we’ve been filled in despair, and sorrow, feeling lost, not knowing what is coming up next. Elif Shafak has put forth a wonderful solution. Always know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that when God closes a door for you, no matter how hard you cry, knock or beg at that door, it won’t open. And when God opens a door for you, no matter how far you run away, it will remain open until you walk through it.

This is a moment when you’ve got no option other than to trust Allah and walk forward. Allah will open a more beautiful door for you, and then you will praise Him for having closed the door you loved so much. May all the doors always lead us back to Allah SWT. Because if you have Allah by your side, nothing can harm you. No despair or no troubles are meant to last forever. I know that each of these rules is so profound, filled with layers and meanings.

It is rather amazing that every time you read this novel, something strikes you and stirs up emotions you haven’t felt in a long time. The book gives warmth and pleasure to its readers, and for everyone out there, I would suggest “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak.The book is a winner in teaching us that Love is not wrong. Love is everything when all else is lost. And above all, Love is right inside each of us; it lives with us. We only need to be selfless enough to see it.


Zoha Mustahson

See Also:

“Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni Analysis

Review of the Book “Hope is Our Only Wing”