The Satanic Verses is Salman Rushdie's fourth novel, first published in 1988 and inspired in part by the life of Muhammad. As with his previous books, Rushdie used magical realism and relied on contemporary events and people to create his characters. The title refers to the satanic verses, a group of Quranic verses that allow intercessory prayers to be made to three Pagan Meccan goddesses: Allāt, Uzza, and Manāt. The part of the story that deals with the "satanic verses" was based on accounts from the historians al-Waqidi and al-Tabari.
In the United Kingdom, The Satanic Verses received positive reviews, was a 1988 Booker Prize Finalist (losing to Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda) and won the 1988 Whitbread Award for novel of the year. However, major controversy ensued as some Muslims accused it of blasphemy and mocking their faith. The outrage among some Muslims resulted in a fatwā calling for Rushdie's death issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989. The result was several failed assassination attacks on Rushdie, who was placed under police protection, and attacks on several connected individuals such as translator Hitoshi Igarashi (leading, in Igarashi's case, to death).