Thursday, June 15, 2006

Satanic Verses & The Da Vinci Code - any similarities?

After watching the movie The Da Vinci code, I felt that the uproar this movie created, reminded me of Sulman Rushdie's Satanic verses.

Although very young at the time of the book's release in 1988, I remember that it caused global outrage especially in the Muslim world. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for the death of Salman Rushdie and it grabbed the headlines for years to come.

In the book, Salman Rushdie mentions about several dreams of one of the characters, and one of the dreams is about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In the book, the Prophet spoke some particular verses of Quran, also called Satanic Verses, to Meccans which allowed the worship of Meccan trio goddesses. As the book says, he did it to win support of the pagans in Mecca. Later he renounced these verses blaming them to be the work of Satan which caused him to err in his speech. All this is part of the book.

Let's look at the historical aspect of the Satanic verses.
In Surah An-Najm of Quran, verses 19-23 read as:

53:19. Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
53:20. And Manat, the third, the last?
53:21. What! for you the males and for Him the females!
53:22. This indeed is an unjust division!
53:23. They are naught but names which you have named, you and your fathers; Allah has not sent for them any authority. They follow naught but conjecture and the low desires which (their) souls incline to; and certainly the guidance has come to them from their Lord.

According to 2 Islamic historians, at-Tabari and Ibn Sa'd, during prayer, Prophet Muhammad was reciting the above verses. However, after reciting verse 20, he recited "These are the high-flying ones, whose intercession is to be hoped for!" thus giving permission to worship the three goddesses. This slip of tongue was due to interference from Satan. This site details more about this incident and mentions that the historians themselves claim that they "transmitted the story as it was transmitted to them" and "al-Tabari has simply refused accountability by avoiding the task of historical criticism". This incident is not mentioned in any canonical Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim Ahadith. Karen Armstrong also gives a detailed description about this incident in her book Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet.

Either way, if this incident is true or not, it proves nothing other than the prophets are just humans and can be tempted by Satan, just like Adam was tempted to eat from the Tree of Eternity. It is further supported in Quran in the following verse:

Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and Allah will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom. (22:52)

What Salman Rushdie did was used this incident as part of his fictional story and instigated anger among muslims, perhaps to gain publicity in the West?

Similarly in the book The Da Vinci Code, Priory of Sion secret group is mentioned. Its members are the descendents of Jesus (pbuh) with his "supposed" marriage with Mary Magdalene. However, there is no proof of this group and has been proved hoax many times. Even the association of Jesus (pbuh) with Mary Magdalene has no firm authenticity. What Dan Brown did was that he borrowed these ideas, which are speculations more than facts, and used them to create a fictional story.

Just like Salman Rushdie used speculative ideas against Prophet Muhammad, Dan Brown used speculative ideas against Jesus Christ (pbuh). Just like Satanic verses angered muslims, The Da Vinci code instigated anger among Christians. Just like Satanic Verses denigrated the person of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), The Da Vinci Code denigrated the person of Jesus Christ (pbuh).

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