On February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the world’s 200 million Shiite Muslims, issued a fatwa condemning British author Salman Rushdie. A fatwa is a legal judgment issued by a Muslim scholar. This fatwa was a death threat issued against Rushdie, who had recently published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses.The Satanic Verses had already been protested by Muslim groups around the world for its depiction of imagined episodes in the life of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. The ayatollah said Rushdie and his publishers were “against Islam, the prophet, and the Quran.”Rushdie went into semi-seclusion for ten years and was never injured. Bookstores in the United Kingdom and the United States were bombed, however, and dozens of people died in anti-Rushdie incidents in Pakistan, India, and Turkey. The book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death, while its Norwegian publisher was shot.The government of Iran withdrew support for Khomeini’s fatwa in 1998, although Khomeini’s spiritual successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has upheld the death threat.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry ayatollah Noun
title for an elite Shia (or Shiite) Muslim leader.
to sentence someone to punishment.
to illustrate or show.
fatwa Noun legal judgment on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized religious authority. incident Noun
event or happening.
religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.
having to do with Islam, the religion based on the words and philosophy of the prophet Mohammed.
fictional narrative or story.
to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.
holy book of the Islamic religion.
Shiite noun, adjective
branch of Islam that honors Mohammed's son-in-law Ali.