The Satanic Verses

novel by Salman Rushdie

The Satanic Verses is a 1988 novel by Salman Rushdie.


  • "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die."
    • Chapter 1, "The Angel Gibreel" (first sentence).
  • The history of life was not the bumbling progress – the very English, middle-class progress – Victorian thought had wanted it to be, but violent, a thing of dramatic, cumulative transformations: in the old formulation, more revolution than evolution.
    • Chapter 1, "The Angel Gibreel"
  • "Martyrdom is a privilege," she said softly. "We shall be like stars; like the sun."
    • Chapter 1, "The Angel Gibreel"
  • No, not death: birth.
    • Chapter 1, "The Angel Gibreel"
  • Question: What is the opposite of faith?

    Not disbelief. Too final, certain, closed. Itself a kind of belief.


  • A poet's work … to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.
    • Chapter 2, "Mahound"
  • But names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.
    • Chapter 4, "Ayesha"
  • Why speak if you can't manage perfect thoughts, perfect sentences?
    • Chapter 5, "A City Visible but Unseen"
  • Information got abolished sometime in the twentieth century … Since then we've been living in a fairy-story. … Everything happens by magic. Us fairies haven't a fucking notion what's going on.
    • Chapter 5, "A City Visible but Unseen"
  • But after a long instant, he [the Prophet] nods. "You have Submitted. And are welcome in my tents."
    • Chapter 6, "Return to Jahilia"
  • And the Prophet said, "Now we may come into Jahilia," and they arose and came into the city, and possessed it in the Name of the Most High, the Destroyer of Men.
    • Chapter 6, "Return to Jahilia"
  • Mahound shakes his head. "Your blasphemy, Salman, can't be forgiven. Did you think I wouldn't work it out? To set your words against the Words of God."
    • Chapter 6, "Return to Jahilia"
  • For are they not coinjoined opposites, these two, each man the other's shadow? – One seeking to be transformed into the foreigness he admires, the other preferring, contemptuously, to transform; one, a hapless fellow who seems to be continually punished for uncommitted crimes, the other called angelic by one and all, the type of man who gets away with everything. – We may describe Chamcha as being somewhat less than life-size; but loud, vulgar Gibreel is, without question, a good deal larger than life, a disparity which might easily inspire neo-Procrustean lusts in Chamcha: to stretch himself by cutting Farishta down to size.

    What is unforgivable?

    • Chapter 7, "The Angel Azraeel"
  • A life illuminated by a strangely radiant death, which continued to glow in his minds eye.
    • Chapter 9, "A Wonderful Lamp"

About the Satanic VersesEdit

  • Do we realise how that hastily-ordered ban has changed India forever? .... When the Government promptly submitted to this illiterate hysteria, it convinced [Hindus] that secularism had become a code phrase for Muslim appeasement.
    • Vir Sanghvi: Liberal first, secular second. Sunday, 27.2.1994, quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 32-33
  • One of the reasons for Islamophobia; in 1989 this book was published maligning, ridiculing our Prophet (PBUH). The west could not understand what was the problem. They don’t look at religion the way that we do. And so; in their eyes Islam was an intolerant religion. It became a watershed.
  • When the Japanese Rushdie translator was killed (summer 1991), spokesmen of the Japanese Muslim community said: "Whoever has killed him, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, at any rate it was his deserved punishment ordained by Allah."
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. 1992
  • A consequence of the negationist orientation of the Indian state's religious policy, is the readiness to ban books critical of Islam at the slightest suggestion by some mullah or Muslim politician. It is symptomatic that India was the first country to ban Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, at the insistence of Syed Shahabuddin, MP (in exchange, with some other concessions, for his calling off a march on Ayodhya).
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. 1992
  • The Ayodhya dispute and the Rushdie affair are indeed connected. The ban on The Satanic Verses was part of a package of concessions by the Rajiv Gandhi Government to calm down Syed Shahabuddin, who had threatened a Muslim "march on Ayodhya on the same day when the VHP would hold a rally there.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. 1992
  • One prominent Muslim who suffered for The Satanic Verses, notably for protesting against the ban, was Mushir-ul-Hasan, pro-vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, the Muslim university of Delhi. He told an interviewer: "I think the ban should be lifted. I think every person has a right to be heard and to be read." In his view, the ban "qualifies as an indefensible move," though he took care to deny any sympathy for the book's contents. Overnight, he became the object of a vicious campaign by most students and some professors at Jamia Millia. Though he buckled, apologizing and saying he never meant to demand the lifting of the ban, he had to stay away from his own university. The day he showed up again, he was severely beaten up and had to be hospitalized. ... Violence most directly related to Rushdie several attacks on his translators. Two of them, the Italian Ettore Capriolo and the Norwegian William Nygaard, were seriously wounded in knife assaults. (In defiance, Nygaard declared at the 1994 Book Fair in Frankfurt that the only correct reply to the terrorists was to stand firm for freedom, and that his way to do this was to translate and publish yet another blasphemer's book, Taslima Nasrin's Shame.) More alarming yet was the lethal attack on Hitoshi Igarashi, a Japanese professor of literature and translator of The Satanic Verses, right on the campus of Tsukuba University in 1991. To the indignation of the Japanese public, Japanese Muslims applauded this killing and declared that "even if the murder was not committed by a Muslim, God made sure that Igarashi got what he deserved."
    • Mushir-ul-Hasan. Quoted in Arun Shourie's discussion of the affair: "The Point We Always Evade," Observer of Business and Politics (Delhi), May 18, 1992; included in his book Indian Controversies (Delhi: ASA, 1993), pp. 363-370. Quoted from : Afterword: The Rushdie Affair's Legacy, The Rushdie Affair; written by Koenraad Elst, [1]
  • The Press Council condemned the pre-publication of some excerpts as "an aberration from the path of ethical rectitude."
    • Press Council of India, quoted in Indian Express (13.11.1190), quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2001). Decolonizing the Hindu mind: Ideological development of Hindu revivalism. New Delhi: Rupa. p. 34
  • Mr. Mushirul Hasan's innocous opposition to the ban on The Satanic Verses has stirred a hornet's nest. He attempted an apology but could not save himself from the hounds. On May 22, the fire-eating Imam of Jama Masjid declared from the pulpit that "anyone who defends Salman Rushdie is defiling Islam." The students of the Jamia Millia shouted: "Qaum ka gaddar, Maut ka haqdar" (Betrayer of the community, deserver of death). Did Mr. Hasan badly miscalculate? Did he not realise the moral pressures under which he was working? Or, did he think he could brazen it out and earn an instant reputation as a liberal and a progressive without having to pay a price for it? (...) A book like The Satanic Verses is blasphemous and the punishment of its author is death. This was clear from the controversy that followed the banning of the book and the death fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie. The Muslim world was seized by a paroxysm of hate and demanded his blood. The author had few defenders even on compassionate grounds in his community. Muslims in India were no exception.
    • Ram Swarup, Swords to sell a god, ( 16 June 1992 in The Telegraph) quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (editor) (1998). Freedom of expression: Secular theocracy versus liberal democracy. [2]
  • Spring 1989 will always remain as a kind of watershed in intellectual and world history. In February 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini delivered his infamous fatwa on Salman Rushdie. Immediately following in its wake came short interviews with or articles by Western intellectuals, Arabists, and Islamologists blaming Rushdie for bringing the barbarous sentence onto himself by writing the Satanic Verses. John Esposito, an American expert on Islam, claimed he knew “of no Western scholar of Islam who would not have predicted that [Rushdie’s] kind of statements would be explosive.” That is sheer hypocrisy coming from a man who has published extracts from Sadiq al-Azm’s previously quoted book, that had also dared to criticize Islam.
    • Ibn Warraq: Why I am not a Muslim, Chapter 1

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