top of page
  • Writer's pictureMetin Tiryaki

Forty Rules Of Love - Elif Shafak

"...In this novel, I opened my heart to the reader. Sufism was my secret, I made that secret known. I did not write this book with the desire to write a book about Shams and Mevlana. I wanted to tell about "Love". This was my starting point. I wrote "Forty rules Of Love" with both its worldly and spiritual dimensions. I wanted to capture a universal essence by juxtaposing seemingly opposite characters. I pursued the answer to this question. Of course, there may be mistakes and flaws. Otherwise, it would be "arrogance" to attempt to write Shams, Mevlana and claim that you understood everything. But I can honestly say this: I wrote this novel with love, I wish it to be read with love." Shafak described her novel named "Forty Rules Of Love" with these words.

In this book, Shafak tells two stories, one of them which takes place today and the other one in the 1200's. Although the book is fictionalized as two different stories, these two stories are connected to each other on the basis of "Love".

Ella Rubinstein is a middle-aged American housewife with three children; Although she has a very wealthy family, perfect life and marriage, she has been feeling more and more exhausted and something is missing in her life lately. Ella, thinks her three children are all grown up and don't need her anymore, and is bored with her daily home routine, finds a job as an editor-assistant in a publishing house. His first job is to evaluate a historical novel of an unknown author named Aziz Zahara, which is about the philosophy of Sufism. She received the book at a critical time in her life, it will shake Ella deeply, and she will discover worldly love in the light of the spiritual love between Mevlana and Shams. The book subject is briefly like that. The book was published in March 2009. Altough Shafak is a Turkish writer, the book was originally written in English.

Elif Shafak's novels have been translated into more than forty languages, are published by the most important publishing houses of the world such as Viking, Penguin, Rizzoli and Phebus. Shafak, which received many awards as Order of the Knight of Art and Literature, one of the most prestigious awards in France, in 2010.

From a literary point of view, I think "Forty Rules Of Love" is one of the best novels in Turkish literature, leaving aside many gossips and scribblings about Elif Shafak and her husband for being a member of a inconvenient religous cult; some historical mistakes in the book; Shafak plagiarized it etc. The stories that intertwined with each other and knitted in knots and loops with many intriguing and thought-provoking dialogues and words on Sufism. As I, who wrote in blogs and magazines for several years, I read the whole book with envy and jealousy of "how did a person think of these words, where did she find them, how could she bring them together" on almost every page, and my own writings seemed like a comparison between Mona Lisa and simple toddler drawing :) .

The most interesting aspect of the book is that Shafak ranks Love with 40 rules. The author created these 40 rules inspired by the discourses of Shams, and these are like aphorisms that are constantly shared on social media. I think it would be wrong to look at this book only as a novel because it also has the delicacy, taste and setting of a work of art. A true writer is one who can turn literature into art; Elif Shafak has achieved this in her book.

"How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we."

"East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond."

"If you want to change the ways others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses."

"Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone we tumble straight into the fires of hell."

"It is never too late to ask yourself, “Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?” Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one-way to be born into a new life: to die before death."

"A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water."

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page