The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses Summary and Analysis of Part VII - "The Angel Azraeel"


Chapter 1

The narrative shifts back to contemporary London.

Saladin, now transformed back to a human, reflects on his relationship with his wife Pamela, and how it has been affected by bigotry. He dreams of having a son, and teaching him to ride a bicycle. The following morning, he decides to resume his life as best he can, so he moves back in with Pamela until they can arrange for a divorce. Her pregnancy from Jumpy Joshi is starting to show, but she is not handling it well – she abuses whiskey, and shaves her head when her hair starts to go gray. Although they live together, they barely speak. Saladin grows depressed and has trouble finding work. Jumpy does his best to reconcile the couple, to little avail.

One day, Jumpy invites Saladin to a political meeting, where activists are campaigning for Dr. Uhuru Simba, a prominent black activist who has been arrested for the gruesome Granny Ripper murders. Many in the immigrant community believe he was framed because of his race and political beliefs. Hanif Johnson is acting as Dr. Uhuru’s lawyer, and both Saladin and Jumpy are secretly attending the meeting in hopes of glimpsing Mishal Sufyan. They are both infatuated with her; Jumpy is her karate instructor.

At the meeting, several people give inspiring speeches. When Saladin glances over at Mishal, he has a vision that her forehead is bursting into flames, while the angel Azraeel comes down from heaven to smite him. Saladin interprets the image as a warning against pursuing Mishal. He also hears that Alleluia Cone was supposed to be at the meeting, but did not show up. Between the vision and Alleluia’s association with Gibreel, Saladin realizes that his life has changed, and that he cannot simply recreate the life he had before the accident.

Chapter 2

Billy Battuta manages to avoid being jailed for fraud, so long as leaves the United States and returns to London. He and Mimi return together, and throw a party at a soundstage that was most recently used to film a musical adaptation of the Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend. The soundstage remains decorated for that purpose, and several people wear costumes to accentuate it.

Most of the novel's main characters (from the London plot) attend the party, and when Saladin sees Gibreel, he is overcome with rage. He approaches Gibreel, intending to kill him. Gibreel, sedated by powerful antipsychotics, is oblivious to Saladin’s intentions, and asks after Pamela. Saladin ruefully confides that Pamela is pregnant by Jumpy Joshi, which reminds Gibreel of his suspicions that Alleluia is secretly trying to get pregnant. Gibreel convinces himself that Alleluia is having an affair with Jumpy, and excuses himself to confront that man. Unseen by anyone, he knocks Jumpy unconscious, and throws him into the film set’s fake river.

A few days later, Gibreel and Alleluia retreat to the countryside to aid the former's recovery. Gibreel invites Saladin to visit them, and Saladin accepts, still planning to murder Gibreel. However, he cannot bring himself to commit the act in front of Alleluia. They spend several days in the country, and Gibreel confides many secrets in his fellow survivor.

A few weeks later, Gibreel meets Saladin in London, and the two men take a long walk. Although the film star is more functional than before, he still behaves manically, and he irritates Saladin by graphically describing his sexual encounters with Alleluia. However, the stories also titillate Saladin, and he finds himself thinking sexually of Alleluia.

Knowing he will not murder Gibreel, Saladin concocts a different revenge plan. He begins to prank-call Gibreel and Alleluia. Using his voice-acting talents, he pretends to be many different callers, each of whom has an impressive knowledge of Alleluia’s anatomy – which Saladin learned about from Gibreel’s explicit stories. Saladin intends to drive Gibreel mad with jealousy, while simultaneously growing closer to Alleluia. It works - after three weeks, Gibreel runs away while Alleluia is at a photo shoot. During that time, Saladin had been spending time with Allie, acting as her confidante.

Meanwhile, John Maslama – the businessman Gibreel met on the train to London, and the first man to recognize him as an angel – has not forgotten about Gibreel. In fact, he has been taking out anonymous advertisements, claiming that God’s messenger has come to earth. One day, Gibreel enters Maslama's Hot Wax record store (associated with his night club) and buys a trumpet, which he then names Azraeel – Gibreel’s lieutenant. Maslama’s employees see a halo appear around Gibreel's head before he leaves.

Chapter 3

Dr. Uhuru Simba dies in prison. The police claim that he broke his neck after having a nightmare and rolling out of bed, but many people believe the story a lie. Protests and riots break out, and intensify when the Granny Ripper murders continue, suggesting that Simba was innocent the whole time. Simba’s mother and brother meet with Pamela, to give her some evidence that Simba’s police captors participated in witchcraft – the conspiracy theory that Pamela has campaigned for.

That night, a group of young Sikh men catch the Granny Ripper in action, and turn him in to the police. Rumors of an impending cover-up circulate, and a massive riot breaks out in the Brickhall neighborhood. Meanwhile, the police raid the Hot Wax nightclub – the same club where Pinkwalla hosted Saladin on his last night as a demon. John Maslama, Pinkwalla, and Anahita Sufyan are arrested for being part of a narcotics ring. The raid on the city’s most popular South Asian hangout further infuriates the rioters.

During the riots, Gibreel dazedly wanders the streets of London. He ends up in a gritty neighborhood, where he rescues twelve prostitutes – who resemble Mahound’s twelve wives – from their pimp by blowing flames from his trumpet. He sets off to find and kill Saladin, whom he now calls “the adversary” (478). He has realized it was Saladin who made the phone calls. He goes to the Shaandaar Café, which seems to be burning when he arrives, and spots Saladin in the window of the building.

The next day, the police investigate two fires. One was at the Shaandaar Café, and killed Muhammed and Hind Sufyan. The second was at the Brickhall community relations center, and killed Jumpy Joshi and Pamela. This fire is believed to be arson.

The narrative flashes back to the previous night, this time told from Saladin’s perspective. Saladin saw the helicopters and riot police, and irrationally thought they were coming for him. He fled to the Shaandaar Café, and when he saw it burning, he rushed in to rescue the Sufyans. Before he could find them, a burning beam pinned him to the ground. At this point, Gibreel pursued him inside, but rescued Saladin instead of killing him. After he brings Saladin outside, Gibreel collapses from exhaustion; he has not slept in days. Part VII ends as the survivors of the fire – Gibreel, Saladin, Mishal Sufyan, and Hanif Johnson – are transported to the hospital.


In Part VII, arguably the climax of this loosely plotted novel, thematic symmetry becomes very important. Gibreel and Saladin spend much of this section hunting each other, and they only succeed when each rushes into the burning Shaandaar Café. Ironically, Saladin’s intentions when he enters the burning building are angelic – he wants to rescue the Sufyans. Gibreel’s, on the other hand, are evil - he enters to kill Saladin.

There are other points of symmetry between the two men. For example, Pamela becomes pregnant, while Alleluia secretly longs for a child. The two women play into the conceit of Saladin as a demon and Gibreel as an angel. Alleluia is cold and pure (at least in the sense that she is childless and has never married), and by climbing Everest, has come as close as any human can to the heavens. Pamela, in contrast, cheats on Saladin with Jumpy, and her sex appeal is described as earthy rather than otherworldly. The turban she wears to cover her shaved head also evokes associations with India, which ties into the identification between immigrants and the satanic ‘Goatman’ that Rushdie first established in Part V.

Chapter 1 includes the first moments in which Saladin begins to behave like a demon, and Gibreel like an angel. For most of the novel, the conceit has been inconsistent – in Part I, Saladin is certainly more relatable than the loutish Gibreel, and his tribulations after being arrested cast him as a victim rather than as a villain. Likewise, Gibreel acts selfishly when he refuses to help Saladin, and repeatedly abandons Alleluia after verbally abusing her. However, these roles reverse in Part VII, when Gibreel is hospitalized and begins to behave more like a victim, and Saladin succumbs to his evil urges, and begins to plot Gibreel’s murder. The reversal is, of course, complete when Gibreel rescues Saladin from the fire even though he considers him an adversary.

However, Gibreel’s association with good and Saladin’s with evil is never without ambiguity. “Consider this fallen man,” Rushdie writes. “He sought without remorse to shatter the mind of a fellow human being; and exploited, to do so, an entirely blameless woman, at least partly owing to his own impossible and voyeuristic desire for her. Yet this same man has risked death, with scarcely any hesitation, in a foolhardy rescue attempt” (482). If Saladin is evil because of his choices – as the narrator certainly leads us to believe – then we must also consider that Saladin rarely understands his own motives. Likewise, after being treated for schizophrenia, Gibreel is rarely in control of his actions because his medications make his mind sluggish and confused.

All told, the climax serves to complicate any simplistic associations and to thereby suggest the novel's primary theme: the existence of both angelic and satanic impulses within us. Not only do each of us have the potential for good and evil, but we further cannot simply separate one from the other. In the same way that cultural identity is presented in this novel as a hodgepodge of interrelated, contradictory elements, so too does our morality not operate along a simple binary construction. Gibreel does good by pursuing evil, and Saladin does evil without realizing it.

Although organized religion is less prominent in this section than it is in other parts of the book, it is still one of the novel’s most important themes, and thus continues to resonate. This section features the motif of sham religion – that is, people exploiting religion for material gain. Examples of this include Billy Battuta’s scam, in which he solicits rich people for money for an exorcism, and Eugene Dumsday’s anti-evolution radio show.

Finally, though Part VII is mostly concerned with the novel's religious themes, the cultural story also comes to a head. In a relatively grounded narrative, the city breaks into riot because a black man is murdered by police brutality. The large population of those considered 'the other' come together to battle the city's persecution. In this complicated social construction, fueled by rage, misunderstanding, and unintentional hatreds, Gibreel and Saladin's story takes on an even more mythic construction. They are playing out an archetypal conflict amidst a contemporary social event, which falls perfectly in line with Rushdie's affinity for merging the surreal and realistic.