Rafiq Zakaria’s Letter to Salman Rushdie on Satanic Verses

We are republishing two letters- one, written to Rajiv Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India by Salman Rushdie (published in NY Times on October 19, 1988), and second, a response to Rushdie from Rafiq Zakaria, a well known Islamic scholar and a congressman defending the  (published in Illustrated Weekly Of India on October 23, 1988). These letters are very important today as we debate about Rushdie’s ‘forced’ or ‘schemed’ absence from Jaipur Lierature Festival and his novel, The Satanic Verse, still banned in India and in many countries. -Editor

Rafiq Zakaria’s Open Letter to Salman Rushdie

Dear Mr Rushdie,

I have read with interest your open letter to our Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi, in which you have pleaded for a review of the ban on your book The Satanic Verses.

You have made fun of the fact that the order was issued by the finance ministry. Well, your information is half-baked. It was reported in the press that the decision was taken by the entire cabinet; but as the ban is to be executed by the customs, which falls under the finance ministry, no other ministry could have issued it.

This aside, it is for Rajiv Gandhi to reply to your letter: he may ignore it as most heads of government do.

I am not one of those, who has not read your book. I have, and am interested to know from you the replies to some questions, as I feel they may help me to understand you better and also for you to plead your case more effectively. We, in India. are ever so worried about communal violence, which erupts on the slightest pretext, we cannot allow a writer, whatever be his motive, to provoke it.

You say in your letter to Mr Gandhi that you ‘strongly deny’ that your book is ‘a direct attack on Islam’. Further, that ‘the section of the book in question…. deals with a prophet who is not called Muhammad’.

I have read your book. Like you, I have also been a student of Islam. Your statements, therefore, surprise me. I feel you are going back on your own objective just to get the ban lifted. Maybe I am wrong. I will, therefore, appreciate if you will clarify your position by replying openly to the following questions:

1. What is the significance of the title of your book The Satanic Verses? Has it not some historical connection? Do not the verses which refer to the three goddesses, condemned as Satanic and repudiated by Allah, the same as your reference to them in your novel? Your words are so clear that no other inference seems possible: “These verses are banished from the true recitation, al-qur’an. New verses are thundered in their place.” “Shall He have daughters and you sons?” Mahound recites. “That would be a fine division!” “These are but names you have dreamed of, you and your fathers. Allah vests no authority in them.”

2. Is Jahilia not the same word as used in Muslim annals for “the era of ignorance”—Jahilia means ignorance—the era before the advent of Islam? Your description is so apt:

“The city of Jahilia is built entirely of sand, its structures formed of the desert whence it rises. It is a sight to wonder at: walled, four-gated, the whole of it a miracle worked by its citizens, who have learned the trick of transforming the fine white dune-sand of those forsaken parts—the very stuff of inconstancy—the quintessence of unsettlement, shifting, treachery, lack-of-form—and have turned it, by alchemy, into the fabric of their newly invented permanence. These people are a mere three or four generations removed from their nomadic past, when they were as rootless as the dunes, or rather rooted in the knowledge that the journeying itself was home.”

3. Whom had you in mind when you delineated the character of Mahound? Do your descriptions of his various activities not fit those of the Prophet Muhammad? I can quote passage after passage to show the coincidence, but it will be too lengthy; moreover most of them are so offensive that I shudder to reproduce them.

4. From where have you drawn the names of the three goddesses: Lat, Uzza and Manat? They are certainly not the products of your imagination? No one reading about them in your book can think otherwise.

5. Is Hamza not the same as Prophet Muhammad’s uncle of the same name? And are his encounters with Hind, as depicted by you, not representative of what happened in the early annals of Islam?

6. Is Abu Simbel in your novel not a reflection of Abu Sufiyan, the inveterate enemy of the Prophet? And Hind, whom you characterise so graphically, not his wife?

7. Is Salman—your namesake—called Persian in your book, not the same as Salman Farsi, a companion of the Prophet?

8. Is Bilal not the first Muezzin of Islam, whom you describe as “the slave Bilal, the one Mahound freed, an enormous black monster, this one, with a voice to match his voice”?

9. Is Zamzam, referred to in your novel, not the well held sacred by Muslims? Here is your description: “The city’s water comes from underground streams and springs…, next to the House of the Black Stone.”

10. Does the description of the “Black Stone” in your novel not fit that of Ka’aba? Here are your words: “The graves of Ismail and his mother Hagar the Egyptian lie by the north-west face of the House of the Black Stone, in an enclosure surrounded by a low wall.”

These are some of the coincidences; there are many others. You, unlike most authors, have not mentioned that the characters in your novels do not bear any resemblance to persons living or dead. Can you, with your hand on your heart, say that they really don’t resemble the characters and situations in the life of the Prophet of Islam. And if they do. what should the authorities do to control a likely occurrence which you as well as I know may disturb the tranquillity of the land.

I have not referred to your section on Ayesha; I found it rather confusing, where you have cleverly mixed fact with fiction. This does not apply, I feel, to your section on Mahound, which represents, to use your own words” the result of five years of work on Islam, which has been central to my life’. Apart from the Muslim politicians, whom you mention in your open letter to Mr Gandhi, you will be surprised that some of our best intellectuals-both writers and poets—have come out against you: they are J P Dixit, Nissim Ezekiel, Jean Kalgutkar, Vrinda Nabar, Vaskar Nandy, V Raman and Ashim Roy. In a letter to The Indian Post they refer to your statement that you knew Islam best and that was why you had talked about it and observe: ‘How does he ”talk”about this religion? Its founder is named Mahound. Rushdie has not invented this name. This was the name given to the Prophet Mohammed by his European detractors as a term of abuse (‘Ma’ from ‘Mahomet’ added to ‘hound’) and used frequently in various European eschatologies as a creature belonging to the lowest depths of Hell, as the Devil himself.’

After analysing your treatment further, they summarise your approach thus:

How has Rushdie treated the other pillars of Islamic faith? Ayesha, the youngest wife of the Prophet and the one who is regarded as one of the highest authorities of the Traditions is shown as “clad only in butterflies, leading an entire village, lemming-like into the Arabian Sea”. The Ka’aba, regarded by the Muslims as the only consecrated spot on earth, is treated no better. Disguised as the “Tent of Black Stone called Ten Curtains”, it has twelve prostitutes with names of the twelve wives of Mahound to add ”the tempting spices of profanity”. These “tempting spices” were apparently necessary to increase the number of pilgrims. Then what else remains of the basic core of the Islamic faith? The prophet is the Devil, the law-givers are sexual perverts, and the Ka’aba and the Haj examples of depravity and greed. The Koran is of course only a collection of satanic verses.

The signatories conclude:

‘We, the undersigned, are all non-Muslims. We are, therefore, obviously not subscribers to the Islamic faith. We believe that any critique of that faith has to be restrained, reasoned and full of the spirit of respecting diverse cultures and faiths. India’s unity and harmony demands it. It is for such harmony and unity that we demand that the ban on this book be not lifted.’ What have you to say, Mr Rushdie, to these friends who are no friends of Mr Rajiv Gandhi and are known upholders of freedom of expression?

Lastly, as one born to Muslim parents and brought up, I think, under Islamic traditions, may I ask you whether you honestly believe that your book will not upset Muslims. Mr Khushwant Singh, who holds you in high esteem, advised your publisher, Penguins, against its publication as he felt that it would injure the religious feelings of Muslims and may disturb the law and order situation. Mr Zamir Ansari, Penguins’s representative in India, confirmed this to me though he said a confidential advice sought by Penguins should not have been publicised by Mr Singh. But that is another matter. The fact remains that Mr Singh is no friend of the Government of India—in fact he is one of its most bitter critics—and his opinion has been unequivocal. So is that of Mr M V Kamath, an eminent journalist, who never finds anything right with Mr Rajiv Gandhi. He said that Mr Rushdie’s book is full of ‘despicable ideas’. If Nehru was alive he would have banned it.

I ask you in the same manner as you have asked Mr Gandhi, our prime minister, whether you consider this ban as really uncalled for, in view of the danger that many persons in public life feel it poses to communal harmony and peace in India. Is democracy a licence to do or undo anything by anyone or everyone?

Some idealists in the past might have dreamt of it; but is it really practical?

May I also remind you that it was Lord Macaulay who incorporated the need for such a ban in our legal system to prevent disorder; it is not Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s invention. Mr Soli Sorabjee, whose legal eminence is undisputed, has argued against the ban; but he is a poor judge of public reaction. That is why,like his mentor Mr Nani Palkhivala, he wanted to be in politics but gave up the idea. The Times of India, in its editorial, has answered both you and him effectively:

‘No, dear Rushdie, we do not wish to build a repressive India. On the contrary we are trying our best to build a liberal India where we can all breathe freely. But in order to build such an India, we have to preserve the India that exists. That may not be a pretty India. But this is the only India we possess.

‘Do not pontificate, Mr Rushdie; be logical and face the facts. Answer your critics if you can.

Yours truly,

Rafiq Zakaria

Since then when we were parted From Eden went a wandering, Our hearts have known the sorrow Of dreams that stay alingering. Our traveller will search out Memories in the alley, Where cling remembrances From old Lucknow to Delhi.

To the land of our forefathers Take back to them these feelings: Oh! you who go to India

Carry to them our greetings. Can we ever forget so

 The earth of our ancestors? The wind which wafts in memories

 Of brothers and of sisters, The gurgling of the Ganga

 The Yamuna swirling fast, The friendships of our younger days,

 Dalliances of the past. Oh! you who go to India

 Affection fills our yearnings, Oh! you who go to India

 Carry to them our greetings. The earth on which we grew up

 That cradle of our growing, We were cradled in her bosom,

 We were nourished by her loving. And now that we are adults

 Our fancy returns in flight To each particle of her dust,

 Each star that lights her night. This message of our friendship

 This pledge of our deep feelings: Oh! you who go to India

 Carry to them our greetings. On your lovely plains and mountains

 The blessings of all glory, The world bows down in homage

 To the splendours of your story.

 The awesome Himalayas: We pay to them our tribute,

 The Ganga and the Yamuna— The rivers of our youth.

 From all of us our loving,

 Our very special feelings: Oh! you who go to India

 Carry to them our greetings. The spring upon your branches:

 We send to you our greetings. The sights we see no longer:

 We send to them our greetings. The stars that twinkle in your sky:

 We send to those our greetings. The years that have escaped us:

 We send our friends our greetings. These jottings of affection,

 These fragments of our feelings: Oh! you who go to India

 Carry to them our greetings. Our plighted troth is solemn,

 Our promise is not to break the beauty of our friendship,

 The fate which we must make. The pride of our affection,

 Our unity of heart, Must bind us close together— Not keep us far apart.

 These are the gifts that you bear, These tokens of our feelings: Oh! you who go to India

 Carry to them our greetings.

15 replies to “Rafiq Zakaria’s Letter to Salman Rushdie on Satanic Verses

  1. All agreed. Still one must not take away the right to live and banish him from country! Such writing (blasphemous or caricature) is not uncommon with Christian tenets & characters and with Hindu gods & goddesses There are books/ novels written by Muslims full of criticism of Sharia and Muslim tenets. A writer, if incorrect can be criticized in as hard hitting language as possible. But then write it ! I’m inclined to agree that 20 years back it had the potential to injure the religious feelings of Muslims and might disturb the law and order situation. Now 20 years have gone passed. Time is healer, it is said. One can hardly doubt that Salman Rushdie is one of the greatest modern living novelists in the world. And society shouldn’t demarcate a periphery on creative writing. It is quite possible, given a freedom of choice people would have neglected this as one trivial novel,.

    Another disturbing point is Hindu – Muslim divide on this issue. My request to those who want to criticize – let them do in the writing-form. But for writing a novel, – punishment by a fatwa of killing or banishing him from his homeland can not be accepted as a sane act by a democratic Govt. If & when Salman Rushdie comes on his own or on invitation it shall be a bound ant duty of Govt at center to protect him & his honor.

    In a secular state it is the duty of the majority community to care for the dignity of minority. There is a tendency of fundamentalists to take advantage of such mysteries. It happened with Tasleema Nasrin. So I strongly feel that let there be demystification.

    To Mr.. Rafiq Zakaria, whom I respect a great deal, I have one point to submit in favor of Mr. Rushdie that the later is a creative writer. who are generally volatile in character, – so probably he could not able to give point by point justification as an answer. That is not the job of a novelist. James Joice couldn’t do it, on behalf others have done for saving the creativity.

  2. The more words used, the more constricted a logical argument becomes…
    While talking about “saving the creativity” just considered the recently died Indian painter, MF Hussain.

  3. In case you missed it, here’s Allah’s last instructions to Muslims through Muhammad, Chapter 9 of the Koran:
    Mr Rafiq Zakaria read below Ch9 of Koran, explain to 52 OIC ‘Why Islam is in turmoil?
    The Koran ~ Chapter 9
    The Immunity
    [9.1] (This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His Apostle towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement.
    [9.2] So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers.
    [9.3] And an announcement from Allah and His Apostle to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Apostle are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve.
    [9.4] Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).
    [9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    [9.6] And if one of the idolaters seek protection from you, grant him protection till he hears the word of Allah, then make him attain his place of safety; this is because they are a people who do not know.
    [9.7] How can there be an agreement for the idolaters with Allah and with His Apostle; except those with whom you made an agreement at the Sacred Mosque? So as long as they are true to you, be true to them; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).
    [9.8] How (can it be)! while if they prevail against you, they would not pay regard in your case to ties of relationship, nor those of covenant; they please you with their mouths while their hearts do not consent; and most of them are transgressors.
    [9.9] They have taken a small price for the communications of Allah, so they turn away from His way; surely evil is it that they do.
    [9.10] They do not pay regard to ties of relationship nor those of covenant in the case of a believer; and these are they who go beyond the limits.
    [9.11] But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, they are your brethren in faith; and We make the communications clear for a people who know.
    [9.12] And if they break their oaths after their agreement and (openly) revile your religion, then fight the leaders of unbelief– surely their oaths are nothing– so that they may desist.
    [9.13] What! will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Apostle, and they attacked you first; do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.
    [9.14] Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.
    [9.15] And remove the rage of their hearts; and Allah turns (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
    [9.16] What! do you think that you will be left alone while Allah has not yet known those of you who have struggled hard and have not taken any one as an adherent besides Allah and His Apostle and the believers; and Allah is aware of what you do.
    [9.17] The idolaters have no right to visit the mosques of Allah while bearing witness to unbelief against themselves, these it is whose doings are null, and in the fire shall they abide.
    [9.18] Only he shall visit the mosques of Allah who believes in Allah and the latter day, and keeps up prayer and pays the poor-rate and fears none but Allah; so (as for) these, it may be that they are of the followers of the right course.
    [9.19] What! do you make (one who undertakes) the giving of drink to the pilgrims and the guarding of the Sacred Mosque like him who believes in Allah and the latter day and strives hard in Allah’s way? They are not equal with Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.
    [9.20] Those who believed and fled (their homes), and strove hard in Allah’s way with their property and their souls, are much higher in rank with Allah; and those are they who are the achievers (of their objects).
    [9.21] Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Himself and (His) good pleasure and gardens, wherein lasting blessings shall be theirs;
    [9.22] Abiding therein for ever; surely Allah has a Mighty reward with Him.
    [9.23] O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust.
    [9.24] Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Apostle and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command: and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
    [9.25] Certainly Allah helped you in many battlefields and on the day of Hunain, when your great numbers made you vain, but they availed you nothing and the earth became strait to you notwithstanding its spaciousness, then you turned back retreating.
    [9.26] Then Allah sent down His tranquillity upon His Apostle and upon the believers, and sent down hosts which you did not see, and chastised those who disbelieved, and that is the reward of the unbelievers.
    [9.27] Then will Allah after this turn (mercifully) to whom He pleases, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    [9.28] O you who believe! the idolaters are nothing but unclean, so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year; and if you fear poverty then Allah will enrich you out of His grace if He please; surely Allah is Knowing Wise.
    [9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
    [9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!
    [9.31] They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one God only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him).
    [9.32] They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse.
    [9.33] He it is Who sent His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse.
    [9.34] O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah’s way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement,
    [9.35] On the day when it shall be heated in the fire of hell, then their foreheads and their sides and their backs shall be branded with it; this is what you hoarded up for yourselves, therefore taste what you hoarded.
    [9.36] Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth, of these four being sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore be not unjust to yourselves regarding them, and fight the polytheists all together as they fight you all together; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).
    [9.37] Postponing (of the sacred month) is only an addition in unbelief, wherewith those who disbelieve are led astray, violating it one year and keeping it sacred another, that they may agree in the number (of months) that Allah has made sacred, and thus violate what Allah has made sacred; the evil of their doings is made fairseeming to them; and Allah does not guide the unbelieving people.
    [9.38] O you who believe! What (excuse) have you that when it is said to you: Go forth in Allah’s way, you should incline heavily to earth; are you contented with this world’s life instead of the hereafter? But the provision of this world’s life compared with the hereafter is but little.
    [9.39] If you do not go forth, He will chastise you with a painful chastisement and bring in your place a people other than you, and you will do Him no harm; and Allah has power over all things.
    [9.40] If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquillity upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
    [9.41] Go forth light and heavy, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your property and your persons; this is better for you, if you know.
    [9.42] Had it been a near advantage and a short journey, they would certainly have followed you, but the tedious journey was too long for them; and they swear by Allah: If we had been able, we would certainly have gone forth with you; they cause their own souls to perish, and Allah knows that they are most surely
    [9.43] Allah pardon you! Why did you give them leave until those who spoke the truth had become manifest to you and you had known the liars?
    [9.44] They do not ask leave of you who believe in Allah and the latter day (to stay away) from striving hard with their property and their persons, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).
    [9.45] They only ask leave of you who do not believe in Allah and the latter day and their hearts are in doubt, so in their doubt do they waver.
    [9.46] And if they had intended to go forth, they would certainly have provided equipment for it, but Allah did not like their going forth, so He withheld them, and it was said (to them): Hold back with those who hold back.
    [9.47] Had they gone forth with you, they would not have added to you aught save corruption, and they would certainly have hurried about among you seeking (to sow) dissension among you, and among you there are those who hearken for their sake; and Allah knows the unjust.
    [9.48] Certainly they sought (to sow) dissension before, and they meditated plots against you until the truth came, and Allah’s commandment prevailed although they were averse (from it).
    [9.49] And among them there is he who says: Allow me and do not try me. Surely into trial have they already tumbled down, and most surely hell encompasses the unbelievers.
    [9.50] If good befalls you, it grieves them, and if hardship afflicts you, they say: Indeed we had taken care of our affair before; and they turn back and are glad.
    [9.51] Say: Nothing will afflict us save what Allah has ordained for us; He is our.Patron; and on Allah let the believers rely.
    [9.52] Say: Do you await for us but one of two most excellent things? And we await for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or by our hands. So wait; we too will wait with you.
    [9.53] Say: Spend willingly or unwillingly, it shall not be accepted from you; surely you are a transgressing people.
    [9.54] And nothing hinders their spendings being accepted from them, except that they disbelieve in Allah and in His Apostle and they do not come to prayer but while they are sluggish, and they do not spend but while they are unwilling.
    [9.55] Let not then their property and their children excite your admiration; Allah only wishes to chastise them with these in this world’s life and (that) their souls may depart while they are unbelievers.
    [9.56] And they swear by Allah that they are most surely of you, and they are not of you, but they are a people who are afraid (of you).
    [9.57] If they could find a refuge or cave or a place to enter into, they would certainly have turned thereto, running away in all haste.
    [9.58] And of them there are those who blame you with respect to the alms; so if they are given from it they are pleased, and if they are not given from it, lo! they are full of rage.
    [9.59] And if they were content with what Allah and His Apostle gave them, and had said: Allah is sufficient for us; Allah will soon give us (more) out of His grace and His Apostle too; surely to Allah do we make our petition.
    [9.60] Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and the officials (appointed) over them, and those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth) and the (ransoming of) captives and those in debts and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer; an ordinance from Allah; and Allah is knowing, Wise.
    [9.61] And there are some of them who molest the Prophet and say: He is one who believes every thing that he hears; say: A hearer of good for you (who) believes in Allah and believes the faithful and a mercy for those of you who believe; and (as for) those who molest the Apostle of Allah, they shall have a painful punishment.
    [9.62] They swear to you by Allah that they might please you and, Allah, as well as His Apostle, has a greater right that they should please Him, if they are believers.
    [9.63] Do they not know that whoever acts in opposition to Allah and His Apostle, he shall surely have the fire of hell to abide in it? That is the grievous abasement.
    [9.64] The hypocrites fear lest a chapter should be sent down to them telling them plainly of what is in their hearts. Say: Go on mocking, surely Allah will bring forth what you fear.
    [9.65] And if you should question them, they would certainly say: We were only idly discoursing and sporting. Say: Was it at Allah and His communications and His Apostle that you mocked?
    [9.66] Do not make excuses; you have denied indeed after you had believed; if We pardon a party of you, We will chastise (another) party because they are guilty.
    [9.67] The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good and withhold their hands; they have forsaken Allah, so He has forsaken them; surely the hypocrites are the transgressors.
    [9.68] Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein; it is enough for them; and Allah has cursed them and they shall have lasting punishment.
    [9.69] Like those before you; they were stronger than you in power and more abundant in wealth and children, so they enjoyed their portion; thus have you enjoyed your portion as those before you enjoyed their portion; and you entered into vain discourses like the vain discourses in which entered those before you. These are they whose works are null in this world and the hereafter, and these are they who are the losers.
    [9.70] Has not the news of those before them come to them; of the people of Nuh and Ad and Samood, and the people of Ibrahim and the dwellers of Madyan and the overthrown cities; their apostles came to them with clear arguments; so it was not Allah Who should do them injustice, but they were unjust to themselves.
    [9.71] And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.
    [9.72] Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement.
    [9.73] O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.
    [9.74] They swear by Allah that they did not speak, and certainly they did speak, the word of unbelief, and disbelieved after their Islam, and they had determined upon what they have not been able to effect, and they did not find fault except because Allah and His Apostle enriched them out of His grace; therefore if they repent, it will be good for them; and if they turn back, Allah will chastise them with a painful chastisement in this world and the hereafter, and they shall not have in the land any guardian or a helper.
    [9.75] And there are those of them who made a covenant with Allah: If He give us out of His grace, we will certainly give alms and we will certainly be of the good.
    [9.76] But when He gave them out of His grace, they became niggardly of it and they turned back and they withdrew.
    [9.77] So He made hypocrisy to follow as a consequence into their hearts till the day when they shall meet Him because they failed to perform towards Allah what they had promised with Him and because they told lies.
    [9.78] Do they not know that Allah knows their hidden thoughts and their secret counsels, and that Allah is the great Knower of the unseen things?
    [9.79] They who taunt those of the faithful who give their alms freely, and those who give to the extent of their earnings and scoff at them; Allah will pay them back their scoffing, and they shall have a painful chastisement.
    [9.80] Ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; even if you ask forgiveness for them seventy times, Allah will not forgive them; this is because they disbelieve in Allah and His Apostle, and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
    [9.81] Those who were left behind were glad on account of their sitting behind Allah’s Apostle and they were averse from striving m Allah’s way with their property and their persons, and said: Do not go forth in the heat. Say: The fire of hell is much severe in heat. Would that they understood (it).
    [9.82] Therefore they shall laugh little and weep much as a recompense for what they earned.
    [9.83] Therefore if Allah brings you back to a party of them and then they ask your permission to go forth, say: By no means shall you ever go forth with me and by no means shall you fight an enemy with me; surely you chose to sit the first time, therefore sit (now) with those who remain behind.
    [9.84] And never offer prayer for any one of them who dies and do not stand by his grave; surely they disbelieve in Allah and His Apostle and they shall die in transgression.
    [9.85] And let not their property and their children excite your admlration; Allah only wishes to chastise them with these in this world and (that) their souls may depart while they are unbelievers
    [9.86] And whenever a chapter is revealed, saying: Believe in Allah and strive hard along with His Apostle, those having ampleness of means ask permission of you and say: Leave us (behind), that we may be with those who sit.
    [9.87] They preferred to be with those who remained behind, and a seal is set on their hearts so they do not understand.
    [9.88] But the Apostle and those who believe with him strive hard with their property and their persons; and these it is who shall have the good things and these it is who shall be successful.
    [9.89] Allah has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them; that is the great achievement. And the defaulters from among the dwellers of the desert came that permission may be given to them and they sat (at home) who lied to Allah and His Apostle; a painful chastisement shall afflict those of them who disbelieved.
    [9.91] It shall be no crime in the weak, nor in the sick, nor in those who do not find what they should spend (to stay behind), so long as they are sincere to Allah and His Apostle; there is no way (to blame) against the doers of good; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful;
    [9.92] Nor in those who when they came to you that you might carry them, you said: I cannot find that on which to carry you; they went back while their eyes overflowed with tears on account of grief for not finding that which they should spend.
    [9.93] The way (to blame) is only against those who ask permission of you though they are rich; they have chosen to be with those who remained behind, and Allah has set a seal upon their hearts so they do not know.
    [9.94] They will excuse themselves to you when you go back to them. Say: Urge no excuse, by no means will we believe you; indeed Allah has informed us of matters relating to you; and now Allah and His Apostle will see your doings, then you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.
    [9.95] They will swear to you by Allah when you return to them so that you may turn aside from them; so do turn aside from them; surely they are unclean and their abode is hell; a recompense for what they earned.
    [9.96] They will swear to you that you may be pleased with them; but if you are pleased with them, yet surely Allah is not pleased with the transgressing people.
    [9.97] The dwellers of the desert are very hard in unbelief and hypocrisy, and more disposed not to know the limits of what Allah has revealed to His Apostle; and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
    [9.98] And of the dwellers of the desert are those who take what they spend to be a fine, and they wait (the befalling of) calamities to you; on them (will be) the evil calamity; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
    [9.99] And of the dwellers of the desert are those who believe in Allah and the latter day and take what they spend to be (means of) the nearness of Allah and the Apostle’s prayers; surely it shall be means of nearness for them; Allah will make them enter into His mercy; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    [9.100] And (as for) the foremost, the first of the Muhajirs and the Ansars, and those who followed them in goodness, Allah is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him, and He has prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flOw, to abide in them for ever; that is the mighty achievement.
    [9.101] And from among those who are round about you of the dwellers of the desert there are hypocrites, and from among the people of Medina (also); they are stubborn in hypocrisy; you do not know them; We know them; We will chastise them twice then shall they be turned back to a grievous chastisement
    [9.102] And others have confessed their faults, they have mingled a good deed and an evil one; may be Allah will turn to them (mercifully); surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
    [9.103] Take alms out of their property, you would cleanse them and purify them thereby, and pray for them; surely your prayer is a relief to them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
    [9.104] Do they not know that Allah accepts repentance from His servants and takes the alms, and that Allah is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful?
    [9.105] And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Apostle and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.
    [9.106] And others are made to await Allah’s command, whether He chastise them or whether He turn to them (mercifully), and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
    [9.107] And those who built a masjid to cause harm and for unbelief and to cause disunion among the believers and an ambush to him who made war against Allah and His Apostle before; and they will certainly swear: We did not desire aught but good; and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars.
    [9.108] Never stand in it; certainly a masjid founded on piety from the very first day is more deserving that you should stand in it; in it are men who love that they should be purified; and Allah loves those who purify themselves.
    [9.109] Is he, therefore, better who lays his foundation on fear of Allah and (His) good pleasure, or he who lays his foundation on the edge of a cracking hollowed bank, so it broke down with him into the fire of hell; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.
    [9.110] The building which they have built will ever continue to be a source of disquiet in their hearts, except that their hearts get cut into pieces; and Allah is Knowing, Wise.
    [9.111] Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement.
    [9.112] They who turn (to Allah), who serve (Him), who praise (Him), who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep the limits of Allah; and give good news to the believers.
    [9.113] It is not (fit) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even though they should be near relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaming fire.
    [9.114] And Ibrahim asking forgiveness for his sire was only owing to a promise which he had made to him; but when it became clear to him that he was an enemy of Allah, he declared himself to be clear of him; most surely Ibrahim was very tender-hearted forbearing.
    [9.115] It is not (attributable to) Allah that He should lead a people astray after He has guided them; He even makes clear to them what they should guard against; surely Allah knows all things.
    [9.116] Surely Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He brings to life and causes to die; and there is not for you besides Allah any Guardian or Helper.
    [9.117] Certainly Allah has turned (mercifully) to the Prophet and those who fled (their homes) and the helpers who followed him in the hour of straitness after the hearts of a part of them were about to deviate, then He turned to them (mercifully); surely to them He is Compassionate, Merciful.
    [9.118] And to the three who were left behind, until the earth became strait to them notwithstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straitened to them; and they knew it for certain that there was no refuge from Allah but in Him; then He turned to them (mercifully) that they might turn (to Him); surely Allah is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.
    [9.119] O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the true ones.
    [9.120] It did not beseem the people of Medina and those round about them of the dwellers of the desert to remain behind the Apostle of Allah, nor should they desire (anything) for themselves in preference to him; this is because there afflicts them not thirst or fatigue or hunger in Allah’s way, nor do they tread a path which enrages the unbelievers, nor do they attain from the enemy what they attain, but a good work is written down to them on account of it; surely Allah does not waste the reward of the doers of good;
    [9.121] Nor do they spend anything that may be spent, small or great, nor do they traverse a valley, but it is written down to their credit, that Allah may reward them with the best of what they have done.
    [9.122] And it does not beseem the believers that they should go forth all together; why should not then a company from every party from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they come back to them that they may be cautious?
    [9.123] O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).
    [9.124] And whenever a chapter is revealed, there are some of them who say: Which of you has it strengthened in faith? Then as for those who believe, it strengthens them in faith and they rejoice.
    [9.125] And as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it adds uncleanness to their uncleanness and they die while they are unbelievers.
    [9.126] Do they not see that they are tried once or twice in every year, yet they do not turn (to Allah) nor do they mind.
    [9.127] And whenever a chapter is revealed, they cast glances at one another: Does any one see you? Then they turn away: Allah has turned away their hearts because they are a people who do not understand.
    [9.128] Certainly an Apostle has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) compassionate,
    [9.129] But if they turn back, say: Allah is sufficient for me, there is no god but He; on Him do I rely, and He is the Lord of mighty power.

  4. Mr. Bhatacharya,
    How does it looks to you when a creative writer who has a volatile character writes a book on your family with your mothers and sisters who are chaste are depicted as doing prostitution and you being the head of the prostitution ring who run his living and comfort by this business. When infact you might have prefered a life of penury to any ill gotten wealth and fame. I am sure this is not true but just this in no way to conduct in a civilized society.

    Also remember the greatest battles have been fought between Christians and Muslims . In that sense Christians and Christ should be the greatest enemy of Muslim. But that is not the case . Islam strictly prohibits any criticism of the prophet Christ( peace be upon him). As per Islam , no Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in the prophet hood of Christ.

    Infact some school of Islamic teaching does not allow critisim of the unknown prophets .That may or may not include Ram , Krishna etc.

    Islam is a very natural religion that talks about keeping the society corruption free. Corruption does not mean monetary corruption only. It means any influence which is unjust and exploit the society and create ills that leads the people astray.

    Islam only uses force to maintain a strict and a clean society. Although no country follows a Islamic rule. But whatsoever little that you can see in the gulf countries would make you realize that this system at least offer the least criminal societies.

    1. this one is for sufi..
      I hav not read the book bt have spent half an hour on this link n i thnk people are just expressing their opinions bt ofcourse their opinions reflect their character. Whatever mr bhatacharya said was an opinion. And whatever you have said is more than an opinion. This is how dumb people like you start communal tensions. You shud have realy given another example. Anyhow that explains you are corrupt (atleast thnkng is corrupt). So you are not a true muslim. Then what the heck you are cribbing for?
      Holes like you create a negative impression for ISLAM

      1. Dear cosmic Satan, Bhattacharya and all other fellow being reading or taking glimpse of this commentary debate on Salman rushdie’s satanic novel ‘satanic verses’ please be adviced that first of all no one can better understand the objectionable, blasphemous, irrelevant, fabricated text except a true believer of Islam who regularly recite Al-Qur’an with thorough meaning. For a non believer this novel could be a piece of fiction, volatile, free expression of an author but whatever is depicted in this novel surely hurt feelings, sanctity, faith of particular community which shall not be acceptable at any cost. From the past periods what we have seen westerners deliberately used to divide and rule through their crooked techniques, and Salman Rushdie is one of the puppet to their hands. It is not the matter of fight between two religious community but the real motivation behind this dispute which is going on for last 2 decades. Some people say one should obey ‘law of land’ to them I must say Law is made by the people, for the people, of the people. And if the same law knowingly enforces regulations hurting someone community feelings than what? Most of the Non Muslims defend Salman Rushdie by saying to Muslims that “Did u read Satanic Verses ? If not than why u condemns this novel? Isn’t it a marvelous piece of work of an author? …..etc.. I personally asks them did u ever read Qur’an? Did you ever go through Hadith (Sayings and principals of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) pbuh.) And if not than you don’t have right to defend. First know the facts than come for arguments. At last I would like to quote follow me on twitter @Follow_DEEN

  5. Though I have not red the novel, after learning a glimpse from Mr. Zakaria’s letter, what Rushde has written in his novel, It hurt me a lot as a muslim. It is like the same MF Hussain hurt hindus by painting nude goddesses. The love of prohpet Mohammed for muslims is more than their own parents and children. The question being repeated asked during the recent literary seminar that if somebody abuses your parents, what would you feel and do. There was no satisfactory answer to such a question in the seminar. The point here is, it is beyond the tolerance limits of a bliever (of any faith). How can an author who is supposed to know the pulse of the people can overlook this fact? Rushde has done this deliberately for wordly gains.

    1. Salman Rushdie was not coming to India to read Satanic Verses this time. Do we have a problem with his book or with his existence? Even this has not been answered.

      Its okay to reject his book, hate it, despise his thoughts but NOT to threaten to kill him. Its beyond any sense of rational behaviour.

  6. “I can quote passage after passage to show the coincidence, but it will be too lengthy; moreover most of them are so offensive that I shudder to reproduce them”.
    So basically the passages are offensive, BUT, they are also representative? Is it just me or others too believe that Mr. Zakaria is the one who is criticising the Prophet out here?
    I guess dressing up could be effective only that much for a poorly made dish.

  7. My dear Dipak, you say time is a healer? Ask your soul if it is? Its just a concealer and a muslim if he knows Islam and his prophet would never, I repeat NEVER let such thoughts shared against our beloved Prophet. You say many Christians wrote against Christianity; SO? Does that give Rushdie a license to write anything against a religion he barely knows?

    The masses are volatile when its any controversy and all this buzz around the literary fest was staged…we condemned what Rushdie wrote and we always will…U say let people write against him and not issue a fatwa, exactly my friend is what am trying to convey here is: “reaction of a mob is not a second book in a reply but a slap/fatwa”. Rather than getting emotional, I request you to get rational. God Bless

  8. I have read the Satanic Verses and though it uses the Koran as an example Rushdie is talking generally about all the three Semitic faiths. Rafiq Zakaria’s arguments don’t seem to fit as the book is a work of fiction. The Satanic Verses does ask some awkward questions but almost every great book that has done that in the past has been banned by the politicians and the clergy. I wrote a post on these banned books including the Satanic Verses a while ago .

  9. Rushdie never reveals his narrator’s identity, but one may infer that the narrator is a supernatural figure, due to his or her omniscience about the story’s spiritual aspects. Yet it remains unclear if the narrator is a demon (perhaps even Satan, as seen on
    page 95) or an angel (perhaps even Allah, as seen on page 423). Rushdie’s novel presents a bleak view of humanity—the qualification that man is not completely evil does little to brighten
    the statement that evil itself is human.
    The Highest Good
    Aristotle begins by working out a formal definition of eudaimonia as ‘the highest good’:
    Every art and every enquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good;
    and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.

  10. Does freedom mean hurting the sentiments of millions of people? We the millions may not be able to argue but we can simply say that the book Satanic verses has hurt our sentiments,

  11. if logical, to prevent millions of hearts from being hurt or to keep communal harmony intact in the world, it would have been best never to disclose what rushdie ever wrote, none would have know how awful a mind can think, rushdie would have never got importance nor would have his novel.
    what happened, has happened, this is for the future to remember, “let us not encourage any such publications, positive or negative, rather let it vanish, before reaching an audience.

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