“The Forty Rules of Love” is a novel written by Turkish author Elif Shafak. First published in 2009, the novel weaves together two parallel narratives, one set in the contemporary world and the other in the 13th century, exploring themes of love, mysticism, and spiritual awakening.
The contemporary story follows the character of Ella Rubinstein, a Jewish housewife and mother of three living in Istanbul. Dissatisfied with her life, Ella takes on a job as a reader for a literary agency. Through this job, she comes across the novel “Sweet Blasphemy” by Aziz Zahara, which tells the story of the famous 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi and his spiritual teacher Shams of Tabriz.
The historical narrative unfolds in 13th-century Konya, Turkey, and revolves around the relationship between Rumi, a renowned Islamic scholar, and Shams, a wandering dervish with a unique and unconventional approach to spirituality. The novel explores the deep bond and transformative impact that Shams has on Rumi, leading him to become one of the world’s most celebrated poets.
Throughout “The Forty Rules of Love,” Shafak explores the concept of divine love, the search for spiritual enlightenment, and the transformative power of love in its various forms. The title refers to the forty rules that Shams imparts to Rumi, encapsulating the principles of Sufism and the path to a deeper, more profound understanding of love.
The novel combines elements of historical fiction, mysticism, and philosophy, offering readers a rich and layered exploration of love and spirituality. Shafak’s writing is known for its poetic and evocative style, and “The Forty Rules of Love” has been praised for its thought-provoking themes and its ability to bridge the gap between different cultures and time periods.