I read The forty rules of love, by Elif Shafak.
Beautifully written, The forty rules of love is both new and old, getting the best of the both worlds, in a complete modern view, trying to resuscitate an old philosophy and to bring the attention on the essence of the Islam, which should be love, and modern family, love, and the modern needs of society.
We have one world, in present time United States, represented by a normal family woman, Ella, who reaches a middle age crisis, having three children that need her full time attention, a husband that finds no more pleasure from her and finding love in other people’s arms, and on the other world, in 1250’s Asia, where Islam is at the beginning, or at least, still solid in the principles that it should and used to be.
In 1250, we find Shams of Tabriz, a dervish gifted with sightseeing, a little bit of unnatural powers, but this I would say, only to underline his marvelous capabilities of human understanding, empathy and kindness. Shams is teaching the Forty rules of love, which are the rules of loving God, but also loving everything and everyone on Earth. This is the base of the Sufi philosophy, which also is tightly connected with God and Islam.
The author clearly wants to emphasize on the fact that Islam is at roots a religion of love. And that by following the rules, and by understanding the human nature and the love of God and mankind, the human can evolve through the Sufi steps to a higher nature, one elevated, one spiritually accomplished, where the petty human things no longer impact life, and no longer have relevance.
We are guided through the story of Shams of Tabriz who meets the scholar Rumi of Konya, and mentors him through the Sufi philosophy for 4 years, to make out of Rumi the famous poet that the world has learned of, then, and many centuries after.
We see the bond between Shams and Rumi, and how the Sufi philosophy changes a man completely, breaking him from his family and school, turning him into a higher rank individual, who now understands the universe, life, and becomes a superior being.
In present day, we connect with Ella, a housewife that struggles to live, until she meets Aziz Zahara, a converted Scot, who discovered the Sufi and the life philosophy and creates a book about Shams and Rumi, which Ella will review as part of her job. She falls in love with Aziz, with his way of seeing life, with his way of living, of understanding. She learns again what it means to be alive, and what it means to not be alone anymore.
The book is all about how love changes everything, but not necessarily romantic love, but the love and care and attention for everything around us, for embracing the life as it is, and understanding and happiness and turning into something beyond petty imagination.
Elif Shafak wrote a wonderful story, which we should all meditate about, and try to be more tolerant, more understanding, and trying to do something better out of ourselves and our life on Earth.