My friend Chloe lent me a wonderful book called The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi written by Elif Shafak. Jalaludin Rumi has increasingly become one of my go-to sources of inspiration over the last few years and this has been particularly uplifting because I have struggled with some Muslims who can be harsh and sanctimonious. Additionally, as a Muslim woman I'm often exposed to personal attacks about my faith by people who don't understand it or even know who I am. It is a challenge to balance or to have harmony in my desire to have compassion for myself and for those who are ignorant, misinformed or sometimes downright judgemental. This book has helped me to revive my love for life, my faith and myself and I am here to share how it helped me to love again. Once you have tasted the sweetness of this love it is easier for kindness and compassion for oneself and others to ensue.
In The Forty Rules of Love, we are introduced to two narratives that have been juxtaposed to concurrently unfold into one enlightening and thought-provoking book in which forty inspiring rules of love are embedded for the reader to look forward to with the turn of every page. One story is about Ella, a Martha Stewart-like middle-aged Jewish woman who finds herself in a lifeless and loveless marriage and yearned to find her identity again in 2008 through a newly acquired job as a book script editor.
The more substantial story within the book is one about the life of Mawlana Jalaludin Rumi, a prominent 13th Century Islamic jurist and theologian who resided in Konya, Anatolia which is now known as Turkey and how he met his companion and soulmate, Shams Tabrizi, a travelling dervish, poet and philosopher from Tabriz in modern-day Iran. The Forty Rules of Love also uncovers how Ella comes across a man who caught her interest and made her wonder if he was her soulmate or not. Despite being two different stories set centuries apart they intertwine beautifully to show us that opposites have a way of revealing things that we may not have been able to see when they stand on their own.