Satanic Verses

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Satanic Verses is an expression coined by the historian Sir William Muir in reference to the inclusion in the Qur'an of a small number of apparently pagan verses said to have been uttered by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Some Muslims refer to the alleged utterance of the two verses as the Gharaniq incident. Narratives derived from scholars consider weak or doubtful hadith involving these verses can be read in, among other places, the biographies of Muhammad by al-Wāqidī, Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabarī, and Ibn Ishaq (the latter as reconstructed by Alfred Guillaume).

Contents

Basic narrative

There are numerous accounts reporting the incident, which differ in the construction and detail of the narrative, but they may be broadly collated to produce a basic account.[1] The different versions of the story are all tracable to one single narrator Muhammad b. Ka'b, who was two generations removed from biographer Ibn Ishaq. In its essential form, the story reports that Muhammad longed to convert his kinsmen and neighbors of Mecca to Islam. As he was reciting Sūra an-Najm[2], considered a revelation by the angel Gabriel, Satan tempted him to utter the following lines after verses 19 and 20:

Have ye thought upon Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzzá
and Manāt, the third, the other?
These are the exalted gharāniq, whose intercession is hoped for.

Allāt, al-'Uzzā and Manāt were three goddesses worshipped by the Meccans. Discerning the meaning of "gharāniq" is difficult as it is an hapax legomenon. Commentators wrote that it meant the cranes. The Arabic word does generally mean a "crane" - appearing in the singular as ghirnīq, ghurnūq, ghirnawq and ghurnayq, and the word has cousin forms in other words for birds, including "raven, crow" and "eagle".[3]

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