The Satanic Verses

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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 Verses[edit]

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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