“The Satanic Verses” is a novel written by British-Indian author Salman Rushdie. It was first published in 1988 and quickly became one of the most controversial and widely discussed books of the late 20th century. The novel combines elements of magical realism, historical fiction, and contemporary storytelling.
The story in “The Satanic Verses” revolves around two Indian actors, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who miraculously survive a hijacking and fall from an airplane. The novel weaves together multiple narrative threads, blending historical accounts, dream sequences, and mythological elements. One of the central themes of the book is the tension between faith and doubt, and it explores the idea of hybrid identities and the clash between the East and the West.
The title of the novel references a controversial incident in Islamic tradition known as the “Satanic Verses,” which are said to be verses that were temporarily included in the Quran but later removed, as they were believed to be inspired by Satan. Rushdie’s novel uses this historical incident as a starting point to explore broader themes of religious belief, cultural clash, and identity.
“The Satanic Verses” sparked intense controversy and led to a significant backlash, primarily from some segments of the Muslim community who considered it blasphemous and offensive to Islam. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time, issued a fatwa (a religious edict) in 1989, calling for Rushdie’s assassination for his perceived blasphemy. Rushdie went into hiding for several years due to the threat on his life.
The novel’s controversy brought issues of free speech, artistic freedom, and religious sensitivity into the global spotlight and ignited debates about censorship, blasphemy, and the limits of artistic expression. Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” remains a significant work in the context of modern literature and freedom of expression, and it continues to be the subject of academic and public discourse.