Satanic Verses 

 Eugene Delacroix, Mephistopheles

Satanic Verses Ibn Ishaq
Confession Conclusion
Movie Night The Man

Satanic Verses

The Koran warns, "Thus have we given an enemy to every prophet — Satans among men and among Djinn: tinsel discourses do they suggest the one to the other, in order to deceive: and had thy Lord willed it, they would not have done it." (Sura 6:112). What are "tinsel discourses"? As they now stand in the Koran, the verses in Sura 53 make reference to three goddesses worshipped by the pagan Meccans:

  • “Do you see Al-Lat and Al-Ozza, And Manat the third idol besides?”
  • (Sura 53:19-20).

As matters now stand, these verses are followed by a denunciation of idolatry:

  • “What? shall ye have male progeny and God female?
  • “This were indeed an unfair partition!
  • “These are mere names: ye and your fathers named them thus: God hath not sent down any warranty in their regard. A mere conceit and their own impulses do they follow. Yet hath 'the guidance' from their Lord come to them.”
  • (Sura 53:21-23).

Because the Meccans did not want daughters but sons, why are they saddling God Almighty with daughters, Mohammed wonders, with naive sexism? As these verses now stand, they are hardly controversial; we expect the Arabian prophet to promote monotheism and condemn pagan idolatry. This is his main theme after all. But as first delivered, the verses were of quite a different tendency:

  • “Do you see Al-Lat and Al-Ozza, And Manat the third idol besides?
  • “These are the exalted females, [or, sublime swans, exalted cranes]
  • “And truly their intercession may be expected.”
  • (Sura 53:19-21 as originally delivered).

Notice that Mohammed has found a place for these female deities, the daughters of Allah, in his pantheon; he is allowing them to serve as intercessors between God and man. These polytheistic verses were later expunged. Says who? Ibn Ishaq, Mohammed's earliest biographer, among others.



  Day of Judgment


  Penalty for Adultery

  Every Which Way

  Did Pharaoh Drown?

  Family values

  Change or No Change?

  Jonah and the Whale

  Satanic Verses

  Only a Sinner

  Mind Cures

  The Hadith

  Works, Faith or Mercy


  Marriage to Christians

  No Warner

  Perspicuous or Not

Ibn Ishaq

Although Ibn Ishaq was no more and no less than a faithful Muslim who was also a faithful, and objective, historian, some of his material proved so dangerous, and so advantageous to Christian polemicists, that later editors felt the need to suppress it. His most damaging story is the story of the Satanic verses, which strikes at the heart of the inspiration of the Koran. Who wrote the Koran? God, say the Muslims: Mohammed was just the conduit, a pipe-line carrying this material from heaven down to earth, untouched by human hands. Mohammed, says the story of the Satanic verses; he, not God, was the editor wielding the red pen, who decided what to include, what to exclude. There was no 'prior restraint;' Gabriel could keep nothing out of the Koran that Mohammed wanted in, he could only remonstrate after the fact:

  • “Because of his love for his people and his anxiety over them it would delight him if the obstacle that made his task so difficult could be removed; so that he meditated on the project and longed for it and it was dear to him. Then God sent down 'By the star when it sets your comrade errs not and is not deceived, he speaks not from his own desire,' and when he reached His words 'Have you thought of al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat the third, the other,' Satan, when he was meditating upon it, and desiring to bring it (sc. reconciliation) to his people, put upon his tongue 'these are the exalted Gharaniq [swans or cranes] whose intercession is approved.' When Quraysh heard that, they were delighted and greatly pleased at the way in which he spoke of their gods and they listened to him; while the believers were holding that what their prophet brought them from their Lord was true, not suspecting a mistake or a vain desire or a slip, and when he reached the prostration and the end of the Sura in which he prostrated himself the Muslims prostrated themselves when their prophet prostrated confirming what he brought and obeying his command, and the polytheists of Quraysh and others who were in the mosque prostrated when they heard the mention of their gods, so that everyone in the mosque believer and unbeliever prostrated, except al-Walid b. al-Mughira who was an old man who could not do so. . .”
  • (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume, pp. 165-166).

Having opened wide the door and let pagan polytheism come crashing in to his beautiful new religion, Mohammed later had second thoughts, and withdrew the verses. God didn't take it too hard, even joking about the matter:

  • “The news reached the prophet's companions who were in Abyssinia, it being reported that Quraysh had accepted Islam, so some men started to return while others remained behind. Then Gabriel came to the apostle and said, 'What have you done, Muhammad? You have read to these people something I did not bring you from God and you have said what He did not say to you.' The apostle was bitterly grieved and was greatly in fear of God. So God sent down (a revelation), for He was merciful to him, comforting him and making light of the affair and telling him that every prophet and apostle before him desired as he desired and wanted what he wanted and Satan interjected something into his desires as he had on his tongue. So God annulled what Satan had suggested and God established His verses i.e. you are just like the prophets and apostles. Then God sent down: 'We have not sent a prophet or apostle before you but when he longed Satan cast suggestions into his longing. But God will annual what Satan has suggested. Then God will establish his verses, God being knowing and wise.'”
  • (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume, p. 166).


To what verse is Ibn Ishaq alluding?

"We have not sent any apostle or prophet before thee, among whose desires Satan injected not some wrong desire, but God shall bring to nought that which Satan had suggested." (Sura 22:51).

Like a toddler caught in the act, Mohammed cannot help incriminating others, even dragging the prior prophets into the same predicament! Though the story of the Satanic verses is extra-Koranic, it is well founded. Sura 17:74-76 reads almost like a confession: "And, verily, they had well nigh beguiled thee from what we revealed to thee, and caused thee to invent some other thing in our name: but in that case they would surely have taken thee as a friend; And had we not settled thee, thou hadst well nigh leaned to them a little. . ."

It seems Mohammed desired popularity: "A renowned Muslim historian, Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari (838-923 A.D.), had this to say in his Ta'rikh al-rasul wa'l muluk (History of Prophets and Kings): 'The prophet was eager for the welfare of his people, desiring to win them to him by any means he could. . .With his love for his people and his eagerness for them, it would gladden him if some of the hard things he had found in dealing with them could be alleviated. He pondered this in himself, longed for it, and desired it. . ."These are the high-flying cranes and their intercession is to be hoped for.". . .When the Quraysh heard this, they rejoiced and were happy and delighted at the way in which he spoke of their gods, and they listened to him, while the Muslims, having complete trust in their Prophet in respect of the messages which he brought from God, did not suspect him of error, illusion, or mistake.'" (quoted in Hussein Hajji Wario, Cracks in the Crescent, pp. 235-237). It's a shame that they were so trusting; if any of the Muslims had died in the interval between the handing down of the Satanic verses and their cancellation, they died as pagan idolators, and their blood was on this misleader's hands.



The Quraysh were pagan polytheists who resisted Mohammed's message of monotheism. So he changed it. Gabriel was powerless to stop him. God could only work on his conscience afterward, promising "God will annul what Satan has suggested." Mohammed was in the driver's seat; it's his book, not God's.

So what is the ultimate guarantor of the Koran's authenticity? Mohammed's conscience. And who was Mohammed? A camel thief. The problem left over from the Satanic verses is this: was all the error expunged?:

"The nagging question remains: If Muhammad could confidently report as revelation from Allah something that turned out to be (according to Islamic tradition itself) a perversion from Satan, how can one be certain that there are not further perversions that were not caught or corrected?" (Understanding the Koran, Mateen Elass, Kindle location 438).

A Christian must reply, no, there remain Satanic verses never corrected, including misunderstanding of the trinity, denial of Jesus' Sonship, and other human error. The quality control process came near to failing once, they admit; how great a leap does it demand, to realize it failed on other occasions as well? According to the Hadith, Mohammed was by no means immune to enchantment and demonic influence:

"Narrated Aisha:

"Magic was worked on Allah's Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not (Sufyan said: That is the hardest kind of magic as it has such an effect). Then one day he said, 'O 'Aisha do you know that Allah has instructed me concerning the matter I asked Him about? Two men came to me and one of them sat near my head and the other sat near my feet. The one near my head asked the other. What is wrong with this man?' The latter replied the is under the effect of magic The first one asked, Who has worked magic on him?' The other replied Labid bin Al-A'sam, a man from Bani Zuraiq who was an ally of the Jews and was a hypocrite.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 660).

This seems to suggest that, at times in his life, Mohammed was actually delusional. Perhaps caution is indicated in receiving any revelations directed to such a man. If one can't be sure from what quadrant of the spiritual universe the message parcel was delivered, don't open it.

The Satanic verses are not the only cancelled verses of the Koran; several others are mentioned in the Hadith: "Then Allah revealed to us a verse that was among the cancelled ones later on. It was: 'We have met our Lord and He is pleased with us and has made us pleased.'" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 417). If the Koran is, as is sometimes claimed, the copy of a heavenly exemplar, it is mysterious why anything in it required to be cancelled.


Movie trailer, 'Innocence of Muslims'

Movie Night

Are the biographical details included in the controversial YouTube movie trailer accurate?

Amateur Hour Insult Religion
Peaceful Protest Aisha
Waraqa the Christian Conspiracy Theory
Khadijah Satanic Verses

Incidents like the rioting and rock-throwing with which Muslims have responded to a YouTube video have led many to wonder, is Islam tolerant? At Mecca, Mohammed was a peaceful non-conformist who succeeded in winning a handful of converts. Upon his flight to Medina, he took up the sword and became a conquering war-lord. That approach worked out much more successfully; by his death, Islam was the religion of Arabia. His successors expanded his program of conquest as far as the Pillars of Hercules. On the one hand, most of today's Muslims do not endorse the lawless activities of ISIS or Al Qaeda; on the other hand, to say, as is often said, that the terrorists have hijacked a religion of peace, overlooks too much of the history of Islam, indeed of the text of the Koran and the Hadith. The truth lies somewhere between the two extremes, and in fairness, there is enough confusion and contradiction in the sources that people can cobble together an Islam of their choosing:


Muslim protestors burning U.S. flag

The Man

Putting verses in, and then taking them out, of the Koran, does not impress or make for a reputation for solid reliability. There was both good and bad in Mohammed's character. When he began to undergo his spiritual experiences, he himself was not sure whether they were benign. One aspect of the Satanic verses episode that requires attention is the resounding reply it gives to his challenge to equal the Koran:

"Say: Verily, were men and Djinn assembled to produce the like of this Koran, they could not produce its like, though the one should help the other." (Sura 17:90).

Satan is one of the Djinn, and he produced a Koranic verse so convincing it fooled even Mohammed himself! As apologist Sam Shamoun points out, "If even jinn are incapable of matching the Quran then how was Satan able to deceive Muhammad into thinking that the verses which the devil put on his tongue were Quranic verses? Wasn’t Muhammad able to tell the difference between Satan’s words and the verses of Allah?" (Sam Shamoun, How Satan Trumped Allah and His 'Messenger', Answering Islam). The fact of the matter is, Mohammed's challenge has been met, by the Satanic verses. It would have been better for him to have refrained from tossing out boastful challenges, when he knew himself that he had failed the test of distinguishing Satan's material from the 'genuine' Koran.

It speaks well of the man that, having made a mistake by incorporating the 'Satanic verses' into public recitation of the Koran, after thinking better of it, he was willing to own up to it and correct his own mistake. It speaks ill of the man that, after undergoing this debacle, he failed to realize he cannot continue to make boastful claims of the inerrancy of the Koran. If the only filter keeping error out of the Koran is his own fitful conscience, which might light up or might not at the entry of illegitimate material, then the Koran is manifestly not guarded or protected from error. Some of it might be true, some of it erroneous. Such is indeed the case.

Muslims imitate this man, who is put forward as exemplary in the Koran. But this project seems perilous when one analyzes exactly what his conduct was; what is exemplary about raiding passing caravans, marrying an underage girl, marrying his own daughter-in-law, or owning slaves? For more biographical details about Mohammed ibn Abdallah, please see: