Forty Rules of What?

Hey there people…

S0, I was reading the ‘Forty Rules of Love’ by Elif Shafak the other day, and while the rules themselves made me rethink about my life and my personality, the characters of Shams and Rumi, not so much…

There were many questions that were left unanswered and have been stuck in my head for a long time now.

First thing’s first, Elif Shafak is an amazing writer, and the way she has written the book, makes you want to find out more and more about the amazing world of Sufism. That’s the beauty of her writings. When it comes to her characters, I start to wonder about some things. I was actually hoping some of you would be able to give me answers because I’ve been looking for them for a while now.

Shams and Kimya:

One of Sham’s rules clearly state:

“Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”

The changes that were brought towards him, the marriage, were brought along by God. He believed that whatever comes along his way is for his betterment, so why did he feel like he was ‘trapped‘ now? According to his beliefs, he should have accepted the situation and dealt with it, because he loves God, and therefore, should have trusted Him blindly. Instead, he made his own decision of rejecting her.

Another of his rules state:

“If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside.”

“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.”

Shams did not develop a soft heart for Kimya. He was not willing to change his life and most importantly, he broke Kimya’s heart to the point where she actually died. His rule clearly says:

“If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good.”

These Forty Rules of Love are not only with respect to God, they can be applied to people as well, because apparently Shams and Rumi were in love. So where did Kimya go? I could not find a reasonable explanation to this in the book.

Saying and believing in good things is really easy. I don’t believe in lying, but if I still lie, I would be a hypocrite, wouldn’t I? His rules are absolutely beautiful, and applying even one of them in your lives would actually bring you closer to God, and would purify your belief, but my question is that if you yourself don’t follow those rules, then…?

Shams drank wine:

I know my intellect is no where near to that of a Sufi’s. They have studied things that I have not. They know things that I do not. Their belief is stronger and they are willing to sacrifice anything.

My question is that Shams asked Rumi to buy wine so he could test him, which was a really great way in my opinion. Then, when he asked him to drink it and he was about to drink it, Shams stopped him immediately, but later on, drank his own glass of wine. Why?

From what I have known, drinking wine is not allowed in Islam, and God has forbidden it. Then why did he drink it? Why was he trying to find a logical explanation for something that’s forbidden? Making yourself believe that the Earth is flat does not actually make it one.

Imagine you’re going up to a king and repeatedly telling him, ‘I love you, your majesty. I love you, your majesty.’ His majesty asks you to bring him a glass of water and you say ‘Uh, no, I won’t bring you a glass of water, but oh I love you , your majesty!’ I don’t think that makes any sense.

This is a question that has been biting me for a long time now. He knows that it’s forbidden, unlike the man in the event of Moses. So why did he drink it?

Rumi and Aladdin:

Aladdin is Rumi’s son and loves his father a lot. Now, a parent’s first priority should be their children, but ever since Shams came, Rumi ignored his son to the point where he started craving his father’s attention and got jealous of Shams.

That, first of all, shows the innocence and purity of Aladdin’s love for his father, before obviously, he got involved in the murder. Rumi and Shams locked themselves in his library for forty days, and even after that, Rumi was unable to give attention to his family properly.

Again, I repeat what I said before, that if they believed in love so much, and not only spiritual love, but love with people as well because Shams and Rumi were in love with each other, so why didn’t they take Aladdin’s love under consideration? When Aladdin got jealous, he got jealous because of love.

And even though his intentions were pure, he was still showed in a negative light, which I really do not understand.

Kerra and Kimya:

Kerra was the second wife of Rumi, who converted to Islam from Christianity. Kerra says in the book about what has been said about her:

“Kerra is a Christian. Even if she converts to Islam, she’ll never be one of us.”

Islam tell us to expand our religion, yet when a woman converts and marries a Muslim, apparently that’s out of faith and a Muslim scholar like Rumi shouldn’t have done that.

Just thinking about the society and how flawed it is, and the fact that I am a part of it, really frustrates me.

Rumi was a Muslim scholar. When Kimya’s father brought her to him for education, he refused, saying that she’s a girl. He only took her in after knowing that she can see and talk to ghosts. So is that supposed to mean that women are not eligible to get education unless they have supernatural qualities?

Now, I know that this book is written by Elif Shafak, a ‘WOMAN’, which alone makes it even more interesting because she wrote all these events as facts, without prominently criticizing the wrong-doings of that era, which is such a great thing. I salute her for that.

She wrote that Rumi forbid Kerra from entering his library when he found her dusting the books one day. Why did he forbid her? He allowed Shams to sit in the library all day, and even pretended to throw the books in the water because Shams asked him to.

Okay, I understand that they were his father’s books and they were very special to him, but he’s a scholar. How could he even think of confining knowledge only to himself? Doesn’t he believe in the equality?

Kerra says in the book:

Nobody gives women books to open their eyes.”

She used to sneak in Rumi’s library every so often because she wanted to read. Why did Rumi stop her? It’s a Hadith that men and women should have the thirst for knowledge, yet he stopped her from entering into his library. This actually shows signs that Rumi was so proud of his books, that he couldn’t bear anyone other than a person of an intellect equal to his, to even touch the books.

And there are many more events that actually suggest the objectification of women, and seeing that this book is written by a woman, builds a great deal of respect for Elif Shafak in my heart, because she told us the injustices of the society as it is.


Sacrifice is something that is really emphasized in this book, but the means of showing your level of sacrifice is something that I really do not understand.

If you worry about what your parents might think, you are selfish, and you need to let go off that in order to be selfless. If you are a drunk person, you need to sacrifice that and be sober. If you are sober, you need to sacrifice that and drink wine.

According to this logic, if Shams likes to wander alone, he should sacrificed that and should have taken the Novice with him.If Shams felt trapped in the marriage, he should have sacrificed his wishes and should have accepted Kimya. If Rumi loved his books, he should have sacrificed that and allowed Kerra to come and read them.

I don’t know if these characters are based on the real personalities of these legends or not. Pardon me, but all these questions have been bothering me for a very long time now. I absolutely love the book, and Elif Shafak really did a great job in showing the positive and negative sides of the characters, but what gets to me is when the readers claim that the characters were inspirational and we should follow in their footsteps, like, NO! What they said was beautiful, but what they did was absolutely not beautiful.

If you have read ‘Forty Rules Of Love’, and have any answers to my questions, feel free to comment down below.

I am just a simple person in need for some answers.


3 Replies to “Forty Rules of What?”

  1. This is what I think, somewhere in this story, the characters have their limitations. And no one is perfect. At the same time, I guess they have a long way to go in their journey of understanding themselves, love and life. They are humans after all.

    Haven’t there been times when someone likes you, and you don’t like them back? In such cases, would you still go ahead and be with that person you don’t love? And if you do would you truly be happy? and for how long?

    There are a lot of ambiguities in life in general. So instead of breaking your head over why someone did something, maybe the better thing to do is to take the best which resonates with you and leave out the rest.

    Personally I don’t think sacrifice is the answer. Instead for me it is about letting the other person be, and doing the best for yourself at the same.

    Also keep in mind that this is a version of what Rumi’s story was according to the author. It is her perception. Need not be everyone’s.

    Hope this helps.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I actually think the same, that the characterization is based on the perception of the author, and its not necessary that they are true…


      Liked by 1 person

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