Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former Supreme Leader of Iran, who announced a fatwa calling on all Muslims to murder Rushdie in 1989, did not read The Satanic Verses.

So did Hadi Matar, the man charged with the recent attempted murder of the novelist, who “read only two pages.” And in the rest of the Muslim communities worldwide, most did not bother to read it either. But they agreed with the fatwa. That divided Muslims into two classes, the majority, the “fanatics,” and the minority, the “liberal” or the “progressive.”

The question is why the ‘fanatics’ from Khomeini to Matar and millions more all over the globe did not load themselves reading the SV before being labelled as such.

Salman Rushdie is one of the arduous writers that challenge their reading skills and vocabulary knowledge in his reading. Hadi Matar gave up after two pages; perhaps even he could not understand that. But he did discern the 1989 fatwa of the Ayatollah.

Eminent writer late Khushwant Singh truly sums up Rushdie’s writing: “He is not easy to read. Whenever Taki of The Spectator mentions his name, he prefaces it with the words “that unreadable Rushdie.” Taki’s judgement is highly biased because there is a lot Rushdie has written that is highly readable and a lot that is difficult to comprehend and leaving the reader with the uneasy feeling of being illiterate.”

Wonder, if Rushdie’s writing trait could been more readable at the comprehending level of most ordinary readers, he would have been more understood instead of becoming a victim of hearsay. But he has a style that won him international acclaim in the academic and scholastic circles that he cares more than ordinary folks.

Promod Puri

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