Friday, 7 February 2014

Rumi - Shams Tabrizi and The Forty Rules of Love [1 of 4]

Recently, I finished reading the book The Forty Rules of Love: a Novel of Rumi by Turkish author Elif Shafak. The book is widely credited and many of my friends were reading it in either Arabic or English so I decided to buy a copy and check out what the fuss is all about.

In my holy opinion, the book is a bit overrated - with a 4.16 score on Goodreads. I give it 3.5/5  though. Even though the main story and theme of the book did not engage me the way it engaged the vast majority of those who read it, still, I thought there was something special about this book from start to end.

The book gets its title from "The Forty Rules of the Religion of Love" as set by Shams of Tabriz, the companion and spiritual instructor of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi. I thought, for what it's worth, it is a good idea to collect these 40 rules in one place [my blog, in this case! :)]. 

Reading the rules is not enough to understand the storyboard of the book, but it shall give you a good introduction and encourage you to grab your own copy :)

Below are the first ten Rules of the Religion of Love: 

1. "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".

2. "The Path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge, and ultimately prevail over your nafs with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God".

3. "Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level in 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 Batini - 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".

4. "You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue, or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for Him: in the heart of a true lover. There is no one who has lived after seeing Him, just like there is no one who has died after seeing Him. Whoever finds Him will remain with Him forever".

5. "Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy,’ whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures".

6. "Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. 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".

7. "Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is best to find a person, the person who will be your mirror. Remember, only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you".

8. "Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighborhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied".

9. "Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full".

10. "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".


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