September 19, 2015

Book Review: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

When I first came across this book, I was very unsure whether I would enjoy this book, in spite of adding it to my to - read list. And I must say, it has been on that list for a very long time, and each time i read the synopsis and put it off thinking its too romantic for me and Sufism is something I really have not much idea about. This time around, I had ample time on hand and my mind was free to concentrate and read a trying book ( as that was the impression I had gathered).

The Forty Rules of Love is a story of self discovery and freedom for a 40 year old housewife, from the shackles of daily mundane activities and a loveless marriage. And she discovers love and a deep understanding of self through the story of Rumi and Shams, via a work of fiction which she has to read, to write a literary review, in her capacity as an assistant to the editor of a publishing house.

Sufism, what does it mean? Where do these people dwell? There were so many questions when I think of Sufis and now its a world which I have been given a peek into, through the work of Elif Shafak.

This book speaks of the meaning of being a Sufi, and why they are many times misunderstood, but yet revered as they are considered very close to God and his teachings in Islam. Spiritual, psychic and drawing on the inner energy, Sufis are at times said to have special capabilities, but most often, they just have an aura about them. The author speaks of those who are born with a Sufi heart, and others who choose the path to become a Sufi, by following strict conducts and rules.

We are thrown into the path of Shams, from 13th century Persia, looking for the One, to share his knowledge with and someone who he will connect with at a spiritual level. The journey he makes looking for this person, and how he identifies Rumi when he meets him, as his true companion is a journey which when I read, brought me to think about many ideals that we follow in life, and how they can be changed, modified to bring peace and love around us.

One of the forty rules that Shams talks and which spoke to me, was submission. When I think of submission, I think of giving in, but why not look at it as trust. Its a difficult task, to believe and trust someone to know what is right for you. It speaks of love and oneness between two individuals, maybe something which we have not given to in today's world. This is demonstrated between Shams and Rumi, across many situations, and you are left wondering how can you manage that level of trust.

Is it that the world today does not allow for it? I am not sure whether thats the reason, the world depicted around Shams and Rumi is also dotted with people from varying backgrounds and hidden motives. I think its a matter of the mind, and as Shams trains Rumi to accept, love and forgive, it left a huge impact on me, and has led me to look for more works by Rumi.

This book speaks to you, the author does a fantastic job of bringing together so many different aspects, and very seamlessly at that. This will be one of those books which I will recommend to many when they ask me for a suggestion on what to read next!

Rating: 5/5


  1. Oh! It's such an amazing book teaching us something about the simple life philosophy. One of my favorite things:)

  2. Wow! I've always been fascinated, intrigued by passages, quotes by Rumi... and you've put this together so well!! hope to pick this up sometime soon..


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