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The Satanic Verses By Cody Baker, Anita Kovacs, Amanda Henry & Dan Brady.

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1 The Satanic Verses By Cody Baker, Anita Kovacs, Amanda Henry & Dan Brady

2 Synopsis The Satanic Verses is structured as a frame narrative. The main plot revolves around two protagonists, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha and is set amongst England and India circa the late 80’s. The subplot takes form in the embedded dream sequences of the angelic/disturbed mind of Gibreel Farishta. These plots are linked together thematically by common motifs and parallels between characters.

3 Synopsis The story begins with both Gibreel and Saladin falling from the sky after the midair explosion of their plane over the English Channel as a result of an onboard terrorist attack. Both men are miraculously saved due to the transformations they undergo as they fall. Gibreel’s transformation changes him from a famous Indian actor into the Archangel Gibreel, whereas Saladin is transfigured from his normal appearance as a voice over actor to a being resembling a devil.

4 Synopsis After the fall, both men wash up onto a beach in their newly assumed forms. The men are subsequently confronted by police, after which Saladin is taken into custody and Gibreel is left free. Eventually, Saladin in his grotesque form, manages to escape the custody of the police and attempts to return to his wife, who believing that he is dead, has begun a romantic relationship with Saladin’s college friend, Jumpy Jacobs. The outcome of this relationship is that Jumpy unsuspectingly impregnates Saladin’s wife.

5 Synopsis Meanwhile, Gibreel is simultaneously faced with the task of dealing with his transformation, the serial dreams/visions that are blurring the lines of reality, and his continual attempt to reconcile with his lost love Allie Cone. Eventually, Saladin regains his human form after much internal strife. Once again in human form Saladin seeks to take revenge on Gibreel who he blames for both forsaking him after the crash/transformation as well as his problems at large.

6 Synopsis Saladin’s plans his revenge by attempting to provoke the pathological jealousy that Gibreel has for Allie, thus destroying their relationship. Saladin eventually succeeds in his attempt; however Gibreel realizes that Saladin is the culprit behind his separation from Allie. Later, Gibreel seeks out Saladin to make him atone for his transgression; however, in a moment of crisis Gibreel saves Saladin’s life rather than exacting his own revenge.

7 Synopsis Later in the novel both men return to India, the land of their birth. Saladin returns to receive forgiveness from his terminally ill father, whereas Gibreel returns in an attempt to revive his acting career. Saladin receiving his father’s forgiveness and having reconciled with both Gibreel and his Indian identity decides to remain in India. Gibreel, in a fit of jealous rage murders his love Allie, and then commits suicide.

8 Synopsis (Subplot) Interspersed amongst the main plot of the story are three subplots which spring from the delirious and disturbed mind of Gibreel. These subplots deal with the prophet Mahound (Muhammad), a peasant girl named Ayesha, and a religious zealot named the Imam.

9 Synopsis: Mahound This section is an altered re-narration of the life of the prophet Muhammad. This episode deals centrally with the issue of the Satanic Verses. It also describes Mahound’s rise to prominence and his subsequent departure and return to Jahilia (Mecca).

10 Synopsis: Ayesha This section deals with a young Indian peasant who claims she has been instructed by the Archangel Gibreel to lead her village to Mecca, where they will be able to walk across the parted Arabian Sea. After a 160 mile journey on foot, the pilgrims reach the sea where after contradictory explanations are given as to the sequence of events. Some witnesses claim that after the pilgrims walked into the ocean the seas parted and they walked the path to Mecca. Other witnesses reported that they saw nothing of the sort, only the bloated bodies of the drowned pilgrims as they washed on shore.

11 Synopsis: Imam This section deals with a zealous religious leader, the “Imam” who is living in exile. This sequence is set against a 20 th century setting, and is a rather direct allusion to the life of Ayatollah Khomeini.

12 Literary Subversion Rushdie uses language to establish a version of truth and reality. In doing so, demystifies the Qur’an by pointing out its impossibility. Rushdie then similarly demystifies The Satanic Verses.

13 Using Language Rushdie uses metaphor to illustrate the absurdity of English Nationalism. Once the metaphor is introduced, the metaphor is actualized into the plot –Saladin transforms into a Satyr Once actualized, the metaphor points out the absurdity of English Nationalism.

14 Literary Discourse Rushdie uses anti-absolutes. –everything in the novel is challenged and contradicted Creates a sense of pluralism throughout the novel. That pluralism loosens the structure of the novel and leaves it without any discernible narrative center.

15 Migration, Identity, and a bit of the Post-Modern Why indeed have Saladin and Gibreel metamorphosed into a demon and an angel?

16 Lucretius and Ovid While Lucretius states that any change in the self necessitates the death of the old self, Ovid states that the soul remains the same, even if the form may change A metaphor for migration in general: if one takes on the outside appearance of being British, does this change occur internally as well? Or is there a fundamental self that remains unchanged?

17 Good & Evil (according to whom?) Gibreel, despite his acting background “has wished to remain, to a large degree, continuous- that is, joined to and arising from his past so that his is still a self which may be described as true”. Saladin, however, is “a creature of selected discontinuities, a willing re-invention” and is thus seen as false; this falsity of self could then be characterized as evil.

18 “an idea of the self as being (ideally) homogeneous, non-hybrid, ‘pure’ - an utterly fantastic notion! – cannot, must not suffice.” Rushdie: “The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelisation and fears absolutism of the pure. Melange, hotch-potch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world.”

19 The (Hi)story of Muhammed Muhammed was orphaned as a child and raised by his uncle in and around the city of Mecca (whether or not he was brought up in a tribal setting or in the city proper is a matter of some debate) In his early twenties, he made a name for himself as a trader working in the services of Khadija, a businesswomen based out of Mecca. At twenty-five (in approx. 575-6 CE) Muhammed and Khadija were married.

20 The (Hi)story of Muhammed Muhammed apparently had a habit of retreating to a cave near Mecca to meditate. When he was about 40, he began receiving revelations during these visits (called ‘the Call’ or ‘the Ascension’)(Rahman 14). The revelations come from ‘the Voice’ or ‘the Angel;’ (Rahman 14) this voice is commonly (though not universally) attributed to the archangel Gabriel. These revelations are recorded as the suras (verses) of the Qu’ran (the holy book of Islam). Muslims believe that Muhammed was the last of the Prophets of God and that the Qu’ran is the perfect recording of His Word.

21 The (Hi)story of Muhammed Muhammed’s revelations were met with fierce resistance in Mecca. In 622 CE, Muhammed and his followers left Mecca and went to Medina (the Hirja) and later returned to Mecca in a victorious military campaign.

22 Stars and Pens Pages 106-129 of the excerpt are a fictional revision of a historically disputed incident in the story of Muhammed (the Story of the Crane a.k.a. ‘the satanic verses incident’) It deals with suras 68 and 53 of the Qur’an (al-Qalam and al-Najm)

23 The Doctrine of Ismah & The Satanic Verses Ismah - the belief that the Prophets are protected by Allah and are therefore sinless – a dominant trend in Shi’a thought in particular informed Khomeini’s concept of vilayet al faqih or the guardianship of the jurist By the 15 th century, the Islamic intelligentsia had generally (though not completely) agreed that the historical accuracy of ‘the incident‘ could (indeed, had to) be rejected in keeping with the doctrine of ismah

24 Satanizing the Word Through revisionist fiction, Rushdie questions the divine nature of the Qur’an. The intimate, present-driven tone of the novel blurs boundaries between sacred, mundane and profane. Rushdie took that one step farther by intimating that Mahound heard only what he wanted to hear (through the wrestling match with Gibreel) and that it was not Allah’s intercession that caused the verses to be repudiated.

25 Echoes of Ijtehad Ijtehad is the Islamic concept of independent interpretation through reason. Its opposite is taqlid, which means “imitation.” Rushdie plays with both ideas. He makes fun of taqlid through his main characters (actors) and employs an EXTREMELY radical (though fictionalized) ijtehad throughout the novel. Examples: Saladin as a reddemable Satan, the subplot of the Imam

26 Echoes of Ijtehad Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (d 1985) argues that radical ijtehad encourages us to de- emphasize the part of the Qur’an given to Muhammed in Medina (and focus on the more general verses given to him in Mecca). There are definite echoes of that interpretation in The Satanic Verses. Taha was executed in 1985 for apostacy by the Sudanese government.

27 Questions Where is the line between free speech and cultural sensitivity? Should literature that incites violence be censored? If blasphemy is presented as fiction, is it heresy? And if it is, should it be punishable?

28 Sources Ismail, Qadri. Social Text, No. 29, (1991), p. 117-124 Ali Mazrui. “Satanic Verses or Satanic Novel? Moral Dilemmas of the Rushdie Affair.” Third World Quarterly. 12(1990). 116-39. Moslund, sten Pultz. “Literature as Discourse: An Analysis of the Discursive Strategies Stratigies in Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.” Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 61 (2006): 291-309.

29 Sources Fazlur Rahman. Islam. 2nd Ed. Chicago: Universtiy of Chicago Press, 2002. 1-37. Mohammed Mahmoud Taha. The Second Message of Islam. Trans. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1987.


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