The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses: A novel (1988) by Salman Rushdie (b.1947). Questions of faith and doubt underlie this panoramic vision of the clash of cultures between East and West, which encompasses Britain during the Thatcherite era, India, and the mystical landscape in which the Prophet Mahound does battle. The ‘satanic verses’ are whispered by Shaitan in the ear of Mahound, who then repudiates them:

‘The devil came to him in the guise of the archangel, so that the verses he memorized…were not the real thing but its diabolical opposite, not godly, but satanic.’

The novel gave offense to Muslims for certain remarks put into the mouths of its characters. As a result, a Muslim fatwa (legal ruling) was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader of Iran, declaring Rushdie and apostate who should be killed for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. On 24 September 1998, after Rushdie had spent the intervening period in hiding, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced that it had no intention, nor would it take any action, to threaten Rushdie’s life or anybody associated with his work, or encourage or assist anybody to do so.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

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