The Satanic Verses is a 1989 novel by Salman Rushdie, inspired in part by the life of Muhammad.
The novel caused much controversy upon publication in 1989, as many Muslims considered it to contain blasphemous references. India was the first country to ban the book.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran, issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, calling for the death of Salman Rushdie. On February 14, 1989, he broadcast this message on Iranian radio: "I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book, which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur'an, and all those involved in its publication who are aware of its content are sentenced to death."
The novel's title is a reference to an attempted interpolation in the Qur'an, as described by Ibn Ishaq in his biography of Muhammad (the earliest surviving). The interpolated verses are known as The Satanic Verses. Many Muslims find Ibn Ishaq's story deeply disturbing and reject it as mythical. Many Muslim scholars also reject the story as historically improbable and weakly attested.
The book, like many others of Rushdie's, concerns Indian expatriates in England or returning to India. A plane is blown up over the English Channel. The two protagonists miraculously survive the fall after the explosion; indeed, they feel they have been reborn. Gibreel Farishta grows angelic wings and Saladin Chamcha finds horns growing on his head. The novel is best described as magic realism.
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