Someone asked me a few days ago to recommend a book.
Without having any second thoughts, I immediately said, “The Forty Rules of Love. You must read it.”
I just finished the book this week—and frankly, it’s been a while since a book has shaken me so tremendously. The novel mesmerized me to the extent that I put the book down for nearly two weeks when I came close to the end; the truth is, I didn’t want it to finish.
The Forty Rules of Love is a novel by Turkish author Elif Shafak. The novel oscillates between two parallel stories: a contemporary one about an unhappily married woman, Ella Rubinstein, and another one that takes place in the 13th century, when Rumi crossed paths with the wandering dervish Shams Tabrizi.
Being a fan of Rumi and his poetry, reading about the man who was behind Rumi’s inspirations—Shams Tabrizi—has allowed me to gain a new perspective of Rumi’s poetry. This novel also tackles life, love, spirituality, religion, society, friendship, and death in ways that expand our minds and force us to stop and reflect.
Moreover, the author presents Shams Tabrizi’s 40 rules of love that encompass the Sufi wisdom within them. They’re enlightening and mind-blowing simultaneously.
While reading the novel, I underlined what personally touched me. I’ve since reviewed these quotes and have encapsulated them here.
Although it’s been challenging to choose just a few, I hope they fill you with enchantment, questions, and realizations the same way they did for me.
“Things that can seem malicious or unfortunate are often a blessing in disguise, whereas things that might seem pleasant can be harmful in the long run.”
“Why do we have to fight everything? We’re always talking about fighting inflation, fighting AIDS, fighting cancer, fighting corruption, fighting terrorism, even fighting extra pounds. Don’t we have any other way of dealing with things?”
“After I lost the woman I loved, I metamorphosed drastically.”
“You think you cannot live anymore. You think that the light of your soul has been put out and that you will stay in the dark forever. But when you are engulfed by such solid darkness, when you have both eyes closed to the world, a third eye opens in your heart. And only then do you come to realize that eyesight conflicts with inner knowledge. No eye sees so clear and sharp as the eye of love. After grief comes another season, another valley, another you. And the lover who is nowhere to be found, you start to see everywhere.”
“For the silk to prosper, the silkworm had to die.”
“Doubts are good. It means you are alive and searching.”
“We don’t need to hunt for love outside ourselves. All we need to do is to eliminate the barriers inside that keep us away from love.”
“I slept peacefully that night, feeling exultant and determined. Little did I know that I was making the most common and the most painful mistake women have made all throughout the ages: to naively think that with their love they can change the man they love.”
“For new experiences to come to light, old ones need to wither away.”
“You can be Rumi. If you let love take hold of you and change you, at first through its presence, then through its absence.”
“Don’t judge the way other people connect to God. To each his own way and his own prayer. God does not take us at our word. He looks deep into our hearts. It is not the ceremonies or rituals that make a difference, but whether our hearts are sufficiently pure or not.”
“One who thinks he has all the answers is the most ignorant.”
“There is no such thing as early or late in life. Everything happens at the right time.”
“She had discovered that once she accepted that she didn’t have to stress herself about things she had no control over, another self emerged from inside—one who was wiser, calmer, and far more sensible.”
“Where there is love, there is bound to be heartache.”
Last but not least, here’s my favorite of all:
“Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven’t loved enough.”
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Book cover/public domain
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Catherine Monkman