Anatomy of a madness, Part 1
I read The Satanic Verses in the winter of 1996-97, unemployed and frozen, and again in the winter of 2014-15, Charlie Hebdo on TV 24/7. The third time was in that magical realist summer of 2020, with a fresh-ish MFA to my name, to study the work as art. 12 August 2022: the author survived.
2020 proved such an annus horribilis for Muslim supremacism in general and the Islamic Republic of Iran in particular, that it seems fitting to review that year through the prophesies in The Satanic Verses, by way of an introduction to a particular madness of a particular crowd. The third decade of the twenty-first century was but a week old when the superiority of Islam put itself on tragic display before the eyes of the world. ISIS having had their glorious caliphate destroyed and the Taliban not yet back in charge of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran stood once again as the purest manifestation of the will of Allah on earth and of the faithful emulation of Muhammad, an organism focussed solely on the violent subjugation of the world under Shari'a and the aggrandisement of the Supreme Leader. The theocratic rulers of that unfortunate country, sitting on oil reserves vastly in excess of what it will ever need for profane, earthly purposes, has equipped itself with the ferocious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its notorious jihad attack dog, the Quds Force, reinforced with a thousand of Allah’s finest angels. Its reach was long, its hand in every madness of every crowd in the Middle East and beyond. For its sacred, cosmic war it would spare neither blood nor wealth. It needs one more thing to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them. And it means to get it, insha-Allah.
In the great city of Tehran, just three days after the end of the devastating first Decade of Dawn, Iran’s Year Zero, Valentine’s Day 1989 to the rest of us, in supreme hatred, an ancient High Priest, Grand Ayatollah Imam Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, focussed all of Islam’s propensity for killing onto one single apostate prophet, the author Salman Rushdie, and sentenced him to death for writing The Satanic Verses.
I inform the proud Muslim people of the world that the author of the Satanic Verses book is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an and all those involved in its publication, who were aware of its content are sentenced to death.
The Shi’a Supreme Leader’s heretical sect had been despised and killed for over a thousand years by their Sunni rivals, but at that moment, the entire tribe united behind the High Priest, ready to murder. The miserable, pathetic, ignorant, mediaeval ummah suddenly found their rightful power in this one obscene, barbaric gesture. Such is the nature of Islamic hatred and its stranglehold on the bewitched Muslim heart. “Ayatollah Khomeini; he became a hero to me, overnight. …Here he was, standing up for the honour of the Prophet Muhammad. It endeared him immediately to millions of Muslims the world over.” So reminisced a then student.
Had Khomeini but read the book he so condemned, he would have understood, being a High Priest, the significance of following prophesy inscribed therein:
“To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Takatun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again…” Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without the benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.
As Supreme High Priest, he would have anticipated, could have anticipated, should have anticipated…
“One winter’s morning,” Wednesday 8 January 2020, the Iranian military, red war-flag and all, attempted to avenge the killing of Quds Force leader Qasim Soleimani six days earlier. It fired off sixteen missiles at American bases in Iraq. Two missed their target by a country, landing inside Iran—it managed to bomb itself, twice—while the remaining fourteen arrows rained down harmlessly on bemused US troops. Bearded faces duly saved, “just before dawn,” the Iranian military, still primed for a counterattack, successfully detected just such a counter-attack from within Iran itself: the hallowed Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, and naturally, they shot it down. What else? Given the nihilism in Shi’a ideology, there might be some monstrous explanation for the events laid out below, but let us stick to the uncanny accuracy of Rushdie’s prophecy:
Out of thin air: a big bang, followed by falling stars. A universal beginning. A miniature echo of the birth of time [Year Zero inaugurated exactly ten years earlier by Khomeini himself, AP]. The jumbo jet Bostan, Flight A I-420, blew apart without any warning, right above the great, rotting, beautiful, snow-white, illuminated city.
The Boeing 737-800, Flight PS752, “blew apart without any warning, right above the great, rotting, beautiful, snow-white, illuminated city”. Over Tehran, “just before dawn,” 176 dead people “fell out of a clear sky,” eighty-two of them Iranian, “followed by falling stars,” each bearing the printed name Imam Khomeini at the top and a gate number and boarding time off to the side, in various states of annihilation. Their now-dead owners were all in the right place at the right time to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, the timeless reputation of Islamic timing bestowed equally upon them all.
Time was up for the High Priest’s order. It was just too arrogant to see it yet. Vigils for the victims turned into protests, starting at no more auspicious a location than the Amirkabir University of Technology. Its name means “Great Commander-in-Chief”, in this case Commander-in-Chief Ayatollah Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at whom an entire generation of Iranians now chanted, “Death to the dictator,” and demanded his exile as their animated hands tore down posters of Qasim Soleimani wherever they found them.
As would only be expected of any prophet worth his salt, Rushdie’s book had also prophesied the High Priest’s death sentence upon him, “I tell you, you must die. I tell you. I tell you.” Today the personalities that make up the morbid regime might well be roaming the dark back alleys of Tehran, “Pssst! Show me the way to the next whisky bar,” raising their hoodies just enough to reveal a sliver of turban. When they meet the refrain:
This part of town, this time of night
It don’t matter if its black or white
Stoking up the faithful to murder a prophet is never a good idea, for a mere 110 days later, the ancient High Priest gave his long-overdue last breath. Thousands of clambering bodies pushed, shoved, kicked and trampled. Arms twice that number stretched out, but only hundreds of hands reached, and clutched the dead High Priest's shroud, and pulled hard. Each wanted a relic that would stave off misfortune for generations to come. The Shroud of Tehran, genuine, I was there, look! Kiss, kiss, kiss. The poor man went to his final resting place without even the shroud on his back, his pauper's grave, robbed bare before he was even interred, squats in the midst of the greatest oil wealth that the Almighty had bestowed. Truly, Allah is the most twisted of deceivers.
Later, the very-much-alive prophet reflected, “All I have to say to Ayatollah Khomeini is, one of us is dead.” By the grace of the Ayatollah, Salman Rushdie now has everything he needs to start a new religion, if he were ever so minded, or to play his already considerable part in the demise of one. Requiring neither angelic incantation nor chains of narration, his credentials for prophethood are far more solid than those of a rather unfortunate apprentice salesman who, late one night in a dodgy part of a godsforsaken desert backwater, fell for Satan’s verses. A Jew once warned him, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But then, he was a Jew!
Looked at askance, especially on your way back from a late-night whiskey bar, Rushdie is obviously the Twelfth Imam emerged from occultation. The entire Iranian nation looks askance at the hopeful mullahs, yet they never see the Twelfth Imam amongst them. The mullahs have since all read The Satanic Verses to figure out how Rushdie does it, but like the rabbi who hits a hole-in-one on Shabbat, they can tell no one about it. Indeed, the bastard is truly twisted.
Just one day before the passenger jet catastrophe, the Great Martyr Soleimani was buried. In a tragic echo of Khomeini's frenzied send-off thirty-one years earlier, fifty-six of Soleimani's mourners were trampled to death in a crushing stampede, the regime apparently still unaware that its people's hunger for relics needs to be managed. But then again, management has always been a profanity well-beneath the sacred concerns of the Islamic Republic’s rulers, who reckon, as it happens, that economics is for donkeys. Lest the reader should think that such religiously inspired mismanagement is a Shi’a speciality, consider the emergency services of Sunni Saudi Arabia at the scene of the catastrophic 2015 Hajj crushing:
It took 10 hours for the evacuation to be accomplished. Much effort was wasted on the removal of the dead even as the injured lay mostly unattended and continued to die.
This is the best of 21st-century Islam and the best of the best of people ever raised up for mankind. At the end of it all, 138 Iranians were dead, all at the hands or feet of other Iranians. It was a revenge cock-up of staggering extravagance. The irony is that the Iranian regime had gone out of its way to avoid another American casualty (Soleimani had killed one too many Americans, claimed the Americans; far more plausible is that he got taken out for persuading the Russians to get involved in Syria, and showing them how to do it). All of this only served to confirm what many critics of Islam have been saying to deaf ears for decades: Muslims only respect force that they know can hurt them. This supremely arrogant regime that had been giving the headless IAEA inspectors the run-around for years was compelled by its own ineptitude to invite onto sacred Islamic soil a swarm of kafir inspectors, including from the Great Satan itself, and stand humbly on the side as the kufaar, the worst of creatures, pored over the plane wreckage and passed kafir judgement on the divinely-inspired deeds of Muslims, the best of people.
Fear of the Basij militia evaporated before the rising disgust and anger of Iranians towards their regime, the shame that they felt for the abject mess that the empire of Cyrus the Great had been reduced to, and their determination to reclaim their own destinies. They were out on the streets again, the effects of the Basij's over fifteen hundred killings that ended the fuel-hike protests just weeks earlier, now annulled.
“They know how to destroy buildings,” mused former Lebanese Civil War commander Ziad Saab about the jihad terrorist group set up under Soleimani's tutelage, Hezbollah, named by Khomeini himself, “but they don’t know how to build a small house for their dog.” Not even Allah could shield the proud Muslims of the world from the humiliation and shame of such spectacular Islamic incompetence beamed around the globe just a few short months after their last attempt at a caliphate ended in the snarls of a dog, one that was loved, well-fed and had a proper, kafir-built house.
By the end of 2020, there was so much news about the ummah imploding: the “scholars” losing control of the youth; sheer embarrassment at the paedophilia and barbarism of Muhammad; revulsion at the violence and gross abuse of women; shock at the scam that is the Qur’an; alarm at the real content of the Shari’a coming to light, and disillusionment with the "scholars" for lying to lay Muslims for centuries. This was accompanied by the constant daily drumbeat of jihad murder the world over, meticulously tracked since 9/11, the fulcrum between point – Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie on Valentine’s Day 1989 – and counterpoint – 2020, the year the Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp was reduced to a bloody, severed hand, lifeless in the dirt. By year's end, only the most deluded still thought that Islam had something going for it.
Learning what they are now learning, and knowing that they are only allowed to say nice things about Islam, Muslims have been fleeing the final religion like never before in history. They were learning their religion for the very first time, and from none other than the kufaar, knowledge that the “scholars” considered “unwise” for lay Muslims to know. The kufaar had been studying, and continue to study, all of Islam and withholding none of it from lay Muslims, saddling the sheikhs with a futile salvage operation, while their lawyers pore over the fine print of abrogation.
Part 2 follows/...