Book Review: ‘The Forty Rules of Love’

Author: Elif Shafak. (The Forty Rules of Love) Rating: 5/5 (The Forty Rules of Love)

A couple of days ago, I finished one of the most fascinating books of my life: The forty Rules of Love. I called it fascinating because of its mind-healing power.

9th of August, 2019, I went home and opened a book that I bought just before my vacation started. I woke up early in that day, had my breakfast, I looked at the first couple of pages of this book and suddenly my eyes were stunned with a single quote by Shams of Tabriz: A Sufi, Central Character of this book.

‘When I was a child, I saw God, I saw angels; I saw the mysteries of the higher and lower worlds. I thought all men saw the same. At last I realized that they did not see…’

– Shams of Tabriz
This book is all about finding love for all the things in this universe, from the Supreme God to least and lesser most creatures.

At the beginning of this book, a forty years old woman, Ella, mother of three children, wife of a dishonest husband got an opportunity to write a report, which she looking for a while, about a book called ‘Sweet Blasphemy’. She never thought that she actually do it, but just like me, she falls in love with the captivating characters of that book when she started her work.

At one point, Ella decided to contact the author of the book ‘Sweet blasphemy‘, A.Z. Zahara, without hoping any returns of her messages. In her first email, she shared her deep feelings and her disadvantageous family crisis. She luckily got her email back and their lovable relationship builds gradually with sharings mails after mails, while her husband, David, continued his betrayed and cheating behavior with her by made love with various women.

On the other hand, Ella continued her reading activities and made her desire report based on the book “Sweet Blasphemy”, while the story of the book, which I read, slowly moves towards a Sufi named Shams of Tabrizi. His name actually only ‘Shams’ and the word ‘Tabrizi’ came from a city, where he was born. Throughout the book, Shams described his forty philosophical theories about life, religion, God and so many other things, which were actually always spun back one single theme; and the theme is called LOVE.

Here, I will tell the story about Shams-Rumi Chemistry and later try to clarify some of Shams’s philosophy about life which is actually about Love.

Shams and Rumi

Shams, a Sufi and sheer believer of God, devoted his whole life to find his Creator the way no other human being ever discovered or the way no one yet imagined. He traveled all over the world and saw so many different things with a deep vision so that he can experience the actual meaning of love and promoted himself into the highest level of spiritual connection with his God: Sufi.

At one point in his journey, He moved from Tabriz to Baghdad, and later Baghdad to Konya, where one of the famous poets of Islamic history Mawlana Rumi lived. Rumi was popular about his religious verses, mind-blowing spiritual lectures and he was connoisseur at tafsir about Al-Quran. He usually described the deepest meaning of Al-Quran in front of hundreds of people quite often. In the modern world, the majority percent of peoples remembered Rumi as an unmatchable poet, whose creativity and his thought process about life and religion beyond his time.

However, Rumi was not a poet and never wrote a single poem until he meets with his soulmate Shams of Tabriz. Together they found a divine spirit for learning new things and lessen their blockage in the pathway of Sufism. After found Shams, Rumi wrote:

‘I am not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, sufi or zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not the East, nor the west…… My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless’


Meanwhile, One of Rumi’s adopted daughter named Kimya felt in love with the super-intellect of Shams. She described her affection towards shams to Rumi and within a perplexing situation, (one of Rumi’s son, Aladin, also loved Kimya) Mawlana Rumi arranged their marriage ceremony.

However, Shams never changed his Sufistic behavior and couldn’t embrace Kimya as a wife even after their marriage. As a result, Kimya’s heart was broken apart and she became sick with unbearable mental pain. She also regretted with herself for getting married to Shams, because shams never been a marriage product at all. After all, Kimya said a pathetic but realistic quote, when Shams left her for good, about her mistake. That was:

‘I was making the most common and the most painful mistake women have made all throughout their ages: to naively think that with their love they can change the man the love’


After Shams left the Rumi’s house, Rumi felt such sheer emptiness inside his heart that he couldn’t continue his normal work. To manage this adverse situation Rumi sent his eldest son to find Shams. After a couple of weeks, Sultan Walad, the eldest son of Rumi, came back with Shams. Rumi found his love back again but shams never felt the old environment anymore. He thought, his work with Rumi has been finished and he needed to left this place as soon as possible.

In the meantime, Kimya, the official wife of Shams was dead due to her severe illness. This mournful event made an impact negatively for Rumi’s younger son, Aladin, who once loved Kimya enormously. He could not prevent his anger and revenge temptation and eventually managed to design the most disgraceful plan by which The Shams of Tabrizi was murdered inside the Rumi’s own house.

After Shams died, Rumi’s actual poetic transformation happened pretty quickly, which was the end result of severe agony for Shams lost. He never recovered from that pain and ultimately told so many poems even many of those he forgot just after he described. Actually, His eldest son, Sultan Walad, wrote all the verses and poems of his father for the sake of future generations and as a legacy of their great father, Mawlana Rumi.

That was the concise summary of the novel ‘Sweet Blasphemy’, which Ella read during her hazy relationship with her husband David, while she felt great love towards the Zahara, the Author of that particular book. Ella found a glimpse of Shams inside Zahara’s writing, while Zahra found quite a bit Rumi inside Ella’s heart. That’s how their two hearts combined into a single one.

At one point, Inevitably Ella leaves her family and moves toward Amsterdam, where her true love Zahara lived. They married together and live happily until Zahra died with cancer. Ella knew about Zahra’s cancer but she embraced him with her true loving heart. After a few months of their marriage, they moved to Konya, where Rumi-Shams once lived. They stayed there until Ella lost her true love, Zahara. After that mournful incident, Ella returned back to Amsterdam again.

That’s how the sweet story of Ella-Zahara ended.

Shams Forty Rules of Love
I will describe here the Top 5 Rules of Love from Shams 40 Rules of Love, which are attracted me the most.

‘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’

Shams Described Impract of Positive Vision.

‘Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level of tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batin – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable

Understanding Level of Holy quran

‘Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence’

Power of language and Love

‘The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain

Love can only perfected through Pain.

‘Life is a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate’

Extremism is always the mirror image of infatuation

If you want to study all the forty rules of love, click here. Enjoy!

Final Remarks:

It was an exceptional book for me indeed, which transcended my vision towards positivity for humanity and repair numerous fallacy, which I believe previously. Must Reading Book for any Muslim adult, who Loves the word “Love”.

If you want to read other content under the “book review” category, then click the links below.

  1. When Breath Becomes Air
  2. The Brain That Changes Itself


I am a science-driven, book nerd and religious person. Recently I finished my graduation, my major was BIOTECHNOLOGY. In here, I write stories about my life, research, and my creepy thought processes. Usually, I write stories when I feel an emptiness inside my head. Through the writing, I found calmness, and the sound of keyboards, while I wrote any story, transformed my mind anxious into placid state.

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