Author: Huzaifa Pandit
Author Affiliation: University of Kashmir, Jammu & Kashmir
Abstract: The London based Turkish novelist Elif Shafak’s ‘Forty Rules of Love’ received widespread adulation for preaching a story of platonic love, in an increasingly loveless world, between the much venerated Sufi scholar – Jalal-ud-din Rumi and his mentor – the eccentric dervish Shams Tabriz. The relationship between the two is projected as a representation of the humane version of Islam- Sufism. This version is assumed as the binary opposite of Wahabism which is perceived to desire a fanatic political system based on a selective and parochial interpretation of ‘shariah’ –religious law. The novel attempts to steer clear of this fanaticism, invoking it repeatedly only to establish the desirability of ‘Sufism’ it establishes it as an alternative. However, a close reading of the novel reveals several contradictions that raise questions on the nature of intervention proposed by the novel. This essay will examine the novel as reifying oriental myths and misogynist tendencies largely with respect to the treatment of women. The novel reverts back to the oriental representations of Arab-Islamic cultures fuelled “by the slant of the Christian West and the Islamic East, which provided an added fantasy in the Orientalist mind – the “othering” of the Muslims. Such orientalist representations of subaltern Muslim women further calcified and institutionalized their subhuman identity and subalternized them to both local patriarchy and their western sisters.” (Hasan 2005, 4)
Keywords: Feminism, Orientalism, Sufi, Islam, Fantasy, Stereotype, Normative, Religion, Self, Patriarchy, Binary, Gender.