“For fifteen years," main character Gibreel Farishta was "the biggest star in the history of Indian movies” (11). Shortly before his fortieth birthday, he becomes seriously ill but miraculously recovers. However, instead of returning to Bollywood, he tries to move to London. On the way there, his plane is hijacked and explodes over the English Channel. He and Saladin are the only survivors of the explosion and the subsequent fall. After the accident, Gibreel begins to take on the personality and physical characteristics of the archangel Gibreel – although it is unclear if this transformation is real or a result of schizophrenia.
Born Salahuddin Chamchawala, Saladin Chamcha moved to London to study as a teenager. He has always loved British culture and eschews his Indian heritage as much as possible. He now works as a voice actor and is estranged from his father, his only remaining family in India. After the air accident, he transforms into an incarnation of Satan, much to his dismay.
Rekha Merchant is a wealthy, married neighbor with whom Gibreel Farishta was having an affair before he left India. She killed herself and her children by jumping off the roof of her apartment building after Gibreel left her for Alleluia Cone.
An up-and-coming actress who was scheduled to perform with Gibreel on the day he disappeared from India. She eventually plays the role of Ayesha in The Parting of the Arabian Sea, a film Gibreel makes based on the Titlipur plotline.
Gibreel Farishta’s mother, who died when he was a teenager.
The General Secretary of the lunch-porters’ guild in Bombay. When Gibreel's father died, the Babasaheb invited Gibreel to live with him; he later arranged for Gibreel's first job in the film industry.
Alleluia (Allie) Cone is a beautiful English mountain-climber. Gibreel falls in love with her shortly after recovering from his illness, and eventually moves in with her in London. Despite her own personal issues, she is a faithful helper to Gibreel when he is treated for schizophrenia.
Saladin’s father, Changez Chamchawala, owns a successful business manufacturing agricultural sprays. He is also a nationalist politician. He has a strained relationship with his son.
Nasreen Chamchawala is Saladin's mother, who dies when he is a young man.
Pamela Lovelace is Saladin's troubled young wife.
Zeeny Vakil is Saladin’s lover in Bombay. She is a fearless, sexually aggressive writer. She published a controversial text on Indian identity, and is active in the communist movement.
A Marxist filmmaker with whom Saladin connects upon his return to India.
A friend of Zeeny’s who works as a poet and journalist.
A highly skilled, Jewish voice actress in London. She and Saladin considered starting a relationship before the start of the novel, but decided against it because of their religious differences. She eventually becomes involved with Billy Battuta.
Nasreen the Second
The woman Changez married after his first wife died. The fact that she shares a name with Saladin’s mother fuels Saladin’s anger toward his father.
The Chamchawala's housekeeper, and husband to Kasturba.
Vallabhai's wife, who dresses as Nasreen as a fetish for Changez.
A flamboyantly-dressed American missionary who sits next to Saladin on the Bostan before being released.
One of the Bostan hijackers. Although she is a beautiful woman, Saladin suspects she is more willing to kill than her male comrades are.
Dara, Buta, and Man Singh
The male Bostan hijackers. Unlike Tavleen, they are reluctant to use violence to achieve their goals.
A passenger who is murdered by Tavleen.
The main prophet of Submission in the Jahilia plotline. He is an analog for Mohammed. Before becoming a prophet, he worked as a businessman. Although he is initially sincere in trying to spread his faith, he eventually becomes corrupted by power, and turns into a ruthless theocrat.
Karim Abu Simbel is the head of Jahilia's ruling council (the Grandee). He initially fears Submission because it weakens his power, but he eventually converts to it.
A poet in Jahilia who writes verse against Submission when Mahound first starts to spread the faith. He remains a dissident even when the religion takes control of the city.
Karim Abu Simbel's wife, not to be confused with Hind Sufyan in the London plot. She has an affair with Baal, and despises Submission.
One of Mahound's disciples, who also appears briefly at the beginning of the Titlipur plotline.
Mahound's most ruthless disciple.
A Persian disciple of Mahound who eventually becomes critical of Submission.
Mahound's uncle; Hind kills him at the end of Part II.
A senile woman who sees Gibreel and Saladin wash up on the beach after the plane crash. She hosts them in her house.
Don Enrique Diamond
Rosa’s late Argentinian husband. She calls him Henry.
Martín de la Cruz
An ostrich-hunter whom Rosa met in Argentina, and with whom she might have carried on an affair.
Aurora del Sol
Wife to Martín de la Cruz, and rival to Rosa during her days in Argentina.
Aurora del Sol’s lover, also called the Vulture. Martín de la Cruz murders him, but the Diamonds help him cover up the crime.
The doctor on the Diamond estate in Argentina.
Officer Stein, Officer Bruno, and Officer Novak
The immigration officers who arrest Saladin. They beat and humiliate him in the Black Maria on the way to London.
Saladin’s physical therapist when he is hospitalized in London for pneumonia.
Childhood friend of Saladin and the lover of Saladin’s wife, Pamela. He eventually moves in with her, and impregnates her.
Jumpy’s intellectual uncle and neighbor, and the owner of the Shaandaar Café. He and his family help shelter Saladin after his transformation.
A wealthy Indian immigrant who talks to Gibreel on a train to London. He owns the Hot Wax nightclub and record stores, and eventually sells Gibreel the trumpet that he names the archangel Azraeel.
A ruthless cleric who, with Gibreel's help, fights the goddess Al-Lat to control the state of Desh at the beginning of Part IV.
Three characters in this novel are named Ayesha. The first one to be introduced is the empress of Desh whom the Imam wishes to overthrow in the short dream at the beginning of Part IV.
Most prominently, another woman named Ayesha is a main character in the Titlipur plotline. This Ayesha is an insane foundling who leads her entire village on a pilgrimage to the Arabian Sea, on what she believes are orders from the archangel Gibreel.
In the Jahilia plotline, Ayesha is also the name of a fifteen-year-old prostitute. She calls herself this after Mahound's youngest and most beautiful wife.
Mirza Saeed Akhtar is a zamindar, or landowner, in the village of Titlipur. He wrestles with desire for Ayesha, whom he and his wife Mishal adopted as a girl. When Ayesha leads the pilgrimage to the sea, he does not believe that she is a prophet, but nevertheless comes along to protect his wife.
A local saint in the village of Titlipur.
A clown, and one of Ayesha's suitors. He follows her on the pilgrimage, but eventually loses his faith in her.
Mishal Akhtar is Mirza Saeed’s wife. She wants to conceive a child, but is hampered by the fact that she and her husband have long since lost their sexual passion for each other. When she is diagnosed with breast cancer, Ayesha promises that she will be cured if the entire village completes a pilgrimage to the Arabian Sea. She becomes one of Ayesha's most devoted followers.
Mishal Akhtar’s mother, who accompanies her on the pilgrimage.
Mishal Akhtar’s father, and the director of the state bank. He lives in the city, but briefly appears to try to convince Mishal to leave the pilgrimage.
A toy merchant in one of Titlipur’s neighboring villages. Although he is a Hindu, he joins the pilgrimage.
Muhammad Sufyan’s wife, not to be confused with Abu Simbel’s wife in the Jahilia plot. Hind Sufyan is very religious, so she becomes suspicious when Saladin appeals to her family for help after becoming a demon.
Muhammad and Hind Sufyan’s seventeen-year-old daughter, who is having an affair with the lawyer Hanif Johnson.
Anahita is Muhammad and Hind Sufyan’s fifteen-year-old daughter. She is foul-mouthed and rebellious.
Mimi Mamoulian’s Pakistani boyfriend. He hosts a travel show, but also makes money as a scam artist.
The producer of The Aliens Show, on which Saladin acted before the plane crash.
Hal Valance’s young wife.
S.S. Sisodia is a stuttering producer of Bollywood films, and a manipulative presence in Gibreel's life.
A well-to-do lawyer and prospective candidate for Prime Minister; he has an affair with Mishal Sufyan.
A deejay at the Hot Wax nightclub in London. He is friends with Mishal Sufyan and Hanif Johnson.
Alleluia’s Polish father. He survived a concentration camp during World War Two, an experience that dramatically affected Alleluia’s childhood.
Alleluia's mother, who begs her to leave Gibreel. After her husband Otto's death, she remarries and moves to Stanford, California.
Alleluia’s older sister. She was a model, and died of a drug overdose.
An animator, and one of Otto Cone’s friends who has an unrequited crush on Alleluia.
A ticket vendor who interacts with Gibreel after his transformation to angel. She is Hyacinth Phillips's sister.
Orphia Phillips's co-worker ex-boyfriend, who causes her great pain by abandoning her for Rochelle Watkins.
Uriah Mosely's new lover.
A butcher in Jahilia who sells illicit pork; Also the name of the ancient religious figure who abandoned his daughter Hagar in the desert.
A man from Jahilia who questions the fact that Mahound has twelve wives despite the fact that Submission only allows a man four wives.
Dr. Uhuru Simba
A black activist who is arrested for the Granny Ripper murders.
A waiter at the Shaandaar Café who replaces Mishal Sufyan.
Uhuru Simba’s mother, who leads the campaign for his acquittal.
Inspector Stephen Kinch
London’s chief of police.
Sarpanch Muhammad Din is the head of the village council in Titlipur, and husband to Khadija.
Sarpanch Muhammad Din’s elderly wife, the first of the Titlipur pilgrims to die en route to the Arabian Sea.
Changez Chamchawala’s hospice doctor.
Bhupen Gandhi’s new girlfriend, introduced in the final pages of the novel.
Wife of Babasaheb Mhatre, Mrs. Mhatre is characterized by the stifling affection she shows her husband. Babasaheb adopts Gibreel in large part because he hopes an adopted son will dilute those affections.
A yogi who attempted to scale Everest alone in 1934, and who died in the attempt. Alleluia sees his ghost both on the mountain and throughout the city.
One of the Imam's disciples in the vision that opens Part IV.
One of the pre-Islam pagan goddesses that Mahound accepts in the 'satanic verses' episode. In Part IV, Gibreel fights at defeats Al-lat at the Imam's behest.
The Satanic Verses Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Satanic Verses is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.