the satanic Verses is the 5th novel of Salman Rushdie, published in 1988, for which it gains the same year the Whitbread Award. The February 14th 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini publishes a Fatwa of died against him by blaming the Satanic Verses and forces the author to enter clandestinity.
On the history
The history starts spectacularly. Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, two Indian actors, tumble down on ground after the explosion of a jumbo jet of India to 10.000 meters above the English Channel.
This history refers to a real terrorist act, when a Boeing 747 of Air India exploded in 1985 - attack which one supposes perpetrated by terrorism Sikh. Gibreel Farishta in Urdu, represents the angel Gabriel.
In the Islamic tradition the Gabriel archangel “brought back” the Coran directly of God to Mahomet. Gibreel Farishta sings “To reappear again” when it falls from the skies, “but initially you have to die”. “He my guy! ” “To land on the dry land initially requires to know to fly”.
“Right before the one morning old paddle of winter, in the neighborhoods of the New Year's Day, two quite real men, from good constitution, fell alive from a great height, nine thousand eight hundreds and two meters, above the English Channel, without the assistance of any parachute or wings. ” Gibreel Farishta and Saladin miraculeusement are saved and chosen like the protagonists of a fight of the Good against the Evil.
Origin of the title of the novel
Then was revealed with the prophet the Sourate of Star. It went to the center of Mecque,
where the Quraychites were joined together, and recited this sourate. When it had arrived at verse 19:
- " What do you believe of Al-Lat, of `Uzza and Manat, the third?
- is it possible that God has girls, and you boys?
- the beautiful allocation of the functions that it would be there… "
- is it possible that God has girls, and you boys?
- " These gods are famous divinities, whose intercession must be hoped. "
- " it sometimes happened at Muhammad to rent our idols and to say good of it. "
The following day, Gabriel found the prophet and says to him:
- " O Muhammad, recites me the sourate Star. "
- " It is not as I transmitted it to you? I said: “This division is unjust”. You changed it and you put another thing at the place of what I had said to you. "
- " And this division is unjust "
- " Muhammad repented to have rented our gods ".
- " We did not send, before you, any apostle, nor prophet, without Satan throwing some error in its thought "
Thus according to Al-Tabari, Satan would have tried to dictate lesson heretics with the Prophet. This incident would have taken place with Mecque, eight years before the Hégire, whereas the Prophet recited the sourate Star, in which are mentioned three goddesses considered by the pagan Koraïchites, like " girls of God ".
According to Maxime Rodinson, Al-Lat, Al `Uzzâ, and Manât were, of the preislamic goddesses called the " girls of Allah ". Mahomet, in a first version, had recommended that a worship was returned to them, these marked verses then repealed, are the famous satanic verses.
According to Al-Tabari, Satan would have constrained Mahomet to interpolate two verses what would have created a doubt in the spirit of the listeners of the Prophet. However, Mahomet, as Messager of the Message, to which the Moslems dedicate a Vénération, could have neither its faith, neither its sincerity called into question, nor to even see its life being brought back to a banal life where the error is possible. It is for that, that for the Moslem religious authorities, no book, no film, no cartoon can reveal it in person.
Its glance did not deviate and was not deceived
He saw the largest signs of his Lord
Did you consider Al-Lat and Al `Uzza, and the other, Manat, the third?
Is the male for you, and him the female?
What a iniquitous division! These are only names that you and your fathers allotted.
God did not grant any capacity to them.
Analyzes work and consequences
By publishing this book, considered as seriously blasphématoire by the Moslems of the whole world, the author of Indian origin and parents Moslem, knew the order given by Coran to the “believers” of the Islamic religion, concerning the blasphemers: “ Kill to them ”.
The following analysis of the work and the consequences of its publication are extracts drawn from an open letter published on February 24th, 1989 in the Herald Tribune and written by Nomanul Haq, professor of history of Science to the Université of Harvard and Moslem:
The majority of your Western readers are unable to measure the cruelty of the blow which you carried (...) You had envisaged the consequences. (...)
You know how much Islam is of an acute sensitivity to the respect of its Writing; so much so that Coran cannot be read nor recited in translation, because any translation induces a deterioration. (...)
(...) in your book the personality of Salman the corrupted is not only your representative, it is also the historical figure of Persan, which was a companion of the Prophet particularly respected of the Shiites. By presenting it like “Salman the pourrissor of the Revelation”, you knew that you plant the hand in a honeycomb. (...)
Which would be, according to you, the reaction of the American Blacks, if you make fun of Martin Luther King? Or reaction of the Jewish community if you did defend Hitler? Or fury of a pious Hindu if you do present to him the image of the demolition of a cow? (...)
In fact, the book can be regarded from the point of view of Islam as blasphématoire in several ways:
- mockeries towards the Coran, by treating Coran of satanic and while being pressed however on a tradition brought back by Al-Tabari, a commentator of the 10th century on the three goddesses (verses 19-22).
- the parodic portrait of the primitive Muslim world and Mahomet which it calls Mahound , reduced to a figure of cynical religious agitator, such as usually considered in certain anti-Islamic mediums. He brews businesses and maintains a closed house, wonders about the direction of the life and undergoes crises morals.
Salman Rushdie, itself is also, according to the Moslem, guilty law of Athéisme, Apostasie and conspiracy against Islam:
- It is said atheistic in the interview to the newspaper India Weekly : “ I do not believe in any supernatural entity, whether it is Christian, Jewish, Moslem or Hindu. ”
- He is apostate, because born Moslem, he does not refuse an Islam which he does not know, but rejects Islam such as he was taught to him. Such an attitude being, according to the Charia, liable to death.
- While diffusing, with the complicity of not-Moslems, of the texts against Islam, hostile to the “True Religion” it led a conspiracy against Islam, so punishable of the capital punishment.
Reactions of the Muslim world
Mid- September 1988, the magazine of English language India Weekly publishes some “good sheets” of the novel accompanied by an interview of the author. A Moslem deputy of the Parliament of Delhi, Sayed Shahbuddin, intervenes then with the ministry for Finances Indian, responsible as regards importation, and obtains in a few days the prohibition of the work because “likely to cause clashes between religious communities”.
Whereas public readings of certain passages of the novel took place in beginning October 1988 with London on Broad Street, then without any reaction, the news of this import ban in India, the attention of the islamist groupings attracts and the Islamic countries, the such Iran and the Pakistan, on this work, quickly considered as a “machine of literary war against Islam”.
The first public reaction campaigns against Salman Rushdie begin in Great Britain in December 1988. December 2nd, with Bolton, suburbs of Manchester, nearly 7.000 demonstrators claim the prohibition of this “perverse” book and “blasphématoire towards the Islam and the person of the Prophet” and burn a specimen of the book. January 14th, 1989 with Bradford, an industrial town of the north of the England, in which live more than forty thousand Moslems, take place a new demonstration and new a Autodafé in front of the press. Two weeks later nearly ten thousand people express with London against the group Viking-Penguin, editor of the book.
February 12th, 1989, with Islamabad, capital of the Pakistan, a crowd in anger of ten thousands of people try to take by storm and to set fire to the American Arts center, to make pressure on the group Viking-Penguin whose its American subsidiary company is on the point of publishing the book on the American territory on February 22nd. At the time of this attack, five people are killed and a hundred others are wounded. One of the guards of the arts center is lynched. In the days which follow, other riots take place in several Pakistani cities and with the Cachemire, province Indian with Moslem majority, but also with Djakarta and Karachi, with the cries of “ God ” and of “ With dead Rushdie is large”.
February 14th, in Teheran, the Ayatollah Khomeiny, spiritual guide of the Islamic revolution and the Shiite world publishes a Fatwa (Moslem religious decree) launching a call to all the Moslems to carry out the British writer, of Indian origin, Salman Rushdie, for “remarks blasphématoires” towards the Islam contained in the book of the satanic Versets . According to the Iranian Constitution, the decree is immediately executory and the government announces a reward of 200 million rials (21 500 USD dollars) for any Iranian carrying out the sentence of dead - 70 million rials (7 500 dollars) for a Moslem of another nationality. The Minister of Interior Department, Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, and the commander-in-chief of the guards of the Revolution, Mohsen Rezaï, gives the order to the islamist groups which they control to seek and “to liquidate Rushdie”. The Ambassador of Iran near the the Vatican also states to be to him ready “to kill Rushdie of his own hands”.
It is this Fatwa published five months before its death which will ensure from now on for the posterity the Ayatollah Khomeiny an image of intransigent servant of the Islam, at the Chiites but also at the Sunnites. Dorénavent, in all the Moslem religious schools, Salman Rushdie, the author blasphématoire east depicts like culprit and the mission of punishing it, by any means and anywhere, is presented like Juste.
February 17th, 1989, the Iranian president, Ali Khamenei had indicated that “ the Islamic people would grant his forgiveness if the author reconsidered his errors”. Salman Rushdie answered “ that he regretted the moral shock which he had subjected the sincere followers of Islam ”. However, under the pressure, on February 19th, Ali Khamenei made a recall of the law: “ Even if Salman Rushdie are repent at the point to become the most pious man of our time, the obligation remains, for each Moslem, to send it in hell, at any price, and even by making the sacrifice of its life. ”
March 16th, 1989, the Organization of the Islamic conference, bringing together the Foreign Ministers of the forty-four Member States, in their turn the “ satanic Versets condemn ”, but are restricted to require the prohibition of the book, to recommend the adoption “of legislation necessary to the protection of the religious ideas of others” and to affirm that the author “is regarded as heretic”. This position which seems more moderate, affirms in fact their refusal to admit that the law of Islam cannot apply in the States not-Moslems and their agreement to give up Salman Rushdie with the sentence of death promised to the heretics and to renegades of the Islamic religion.
New demonstrations take place with Bombay (10 dead), with Karachi, London, Paris (a thousand of people), with New York, where one burns effigies of Rushdie. The vast majority of the Imams living in the Western countries take party against Rushdie, the majority approve, more or less, the Fatwa of the Ayatollah Khomeini that some support without reserve. Rare are those which plead for a certain tolerance, even a respect of the principles of the Laïcité; among them the Imam Abdullah Al-Ahdal, vice-chancellor of the Islamic Center of Brussels which adopted a particularly moderate attitude about Salman Rushdie, is assassinated on March 29th, 1989 in company of its librarian, Salem el Bahri.
The novel was finally banished of all the Moslem States and certain States with Moslem majority of India. Salman Rushdie was thus constrained to hide and today still, this death sentence is always regarded as front being applied.
The Japanese and Italian translators of the book were stabbed in July 1991. Ettore Capriolo, Italian, survived it. The Norwegian editor , William Nygaard, has him also survived an attempted murder with Oslo in October 1991.
In June 2007, Salman Rushdie received the title of knight by the Queen of England. This distinction caused the anger of Pakistan. A resolution was voted by the Pakistani Parliament requiring the withdrawal of this title. The Foreign Minister, Ijaz Ul-Haq, estimate that this decoration could justify attack-suicide. These official protests were accompanied by demonstrations in Pakistan where effigies of the Queen Elizabeth II and Salman Rushdie were burned. Iran also condemned this distinction and of the political and religious voices recalled that the fatwa against the writer was always in force. Other reactions took place in Egypt, in Malaysia, in Afghanistan and India.
- on March 12th, 1989, Jacques Gaillot, then catholic bishop of Évreux, declares with the Club of the press , about the business of the satanic Versets but also about the film the Last temptation of Christ : “ It is entitled to the blasphemy there. Crowned, it is the Man ”.
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