The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie's fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. The title refers to the Satanic Verses, a possible interpolation in the Qur'an described by Ibn Ishaq in his biography of Muhammad (the oldest surviving text). Some Islamic and most non-Muslim Western historians and commentators on the Qur'an have accepted this story of Muhammad's momentary acceptance of the verses. However, a common Muslim viewpoint is that the existence of the verses is just a fabrication created by non-Muslims.
The novel caused much controversy upon its publication, as many Muslims felt that it contained blasphemous references. Singapore was the first country and India the second to ban the book. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, a Shi'a Muslim scholar, issued a fatwa that called for the death of Rushdie and claimed that it was the duty of every Muslim to obey.
On February 14, 1989, the Ayatollah broadcast the following 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." As a result, Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese language translator of the book was stabbed to death on July 11, 1991; Ettore Capriolo, the Italian language translator, was seriously injured in a stabbing the same month, and William Nygaard, the publisher in Norway, survived an attempted assassination in Oslo in October of 1993. On February 14, 2006, the Iranian state news agency reported that the fatwa will remain in place permanently.
In the United Kingdom, however, the book garnered great critical acclaim. It was a 1988 Booker Prize Finalist, eventually losing to Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda.
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