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As to the offensiveness of "Mahound," Stallworthy and Ramazani's note provides accurate historical background.
Now may Mahound that ruleth us, and Apollo our good lord And Termagant protect the King, and the Queen watch andward.
Mahound, Rushdie's Prophet figure, is one of those who hear a voice in their ear asking, "What kind of idea are you?" (Satanic 95).
/ He wanted to revenge himself with his sword, / He swore by Saint Mahound. / He smote the table so violently/It fell on the feet rashly, / And he looked like a lion/He smote downright everybody he reached / A servant, a squire, a clerk and a knight / Both an earl and a baron].
If Mahound [the fictional name for Muhammad (28)] recited a verse in which God was described as all-hearing, all-knowing, I would write, all-knowing, all-wise.
The book, published in 1987, gained notoriety in some Muslim communities for the way it depicted a prophet like figure, called Mahound; Mahound of The Satanic Verses was perceived by some devout believers to be a thinly veiled portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
The most prominent prophet figure is Mahound, who represents Mohammed.
According to Clark, the devil, while usually silent, occasionally takes over the omniscient narrator in the way the angel Gibreel possesses the prophet Mahound. We can tell that this devil is a "traditionally evil Satan"(129) whom we are supposed to distrust because he insinuates "that there is no such thing as a single, transcendental Meaning and Unity, no Ideal toward which all beings can inspire" (131).
This is plausible, though the reader may recall uneasily that it is Gibreel, not Chamcha, who acts the role of Satan in films, and (in his dream) in Mahound's cave.
Then further transformations: Gibreel loses his sanity, thinks he is an angel and falls into long fantasy states in which he dreams a version of Mohammad's first days as a prophet (Mohammad is here insultingly called Mahound), as well as a story about Ayesha, a low-caste orphan from a sub-continental Muslim village, who, inspired by divine communication, leads her village on a doomed pilgrimage to Mecca.
Perhaps more surprising is Rushdie's move to have these struggles prefigured by the archetypal struggles between Allah and AI-Lat, the male and female deity principles from the time of his fictionalized Mohammed, named "Mahound" in the Satanic Verses sequences.
Montgomery Watt has written, in Muhammad, Prophet and Statesman, that European views of the Prophet were worst "in medieval times when his name, corrupted to 'Mahound,' was regarded as a name of the devil." This is not as strange as it appears at first sight.
A number of words are classified as obsolete, such as Mahound for Muhammad.
As if he had first declared the Lord Cobham to haue bin before in secret confederacie with the great Turke, or if he had made him some termagant or Mahound out of Babylonia, or some Herode of Judea, or some antichrist out of Rome, or some grandpanch Epicure of this world: and had shewed, that he had recieued letters from the great Souldan, to fight against the faith of Christ and law of God, then had it appeared somwhat more credible, that the saide sir John Oldcastle with his sect of heresie, went about to adnull, destroy, and subuert the christian faith, and law of God within the Realme of England, & c.(6)
First, it is unclear whether Gibreel is in control of Mahound or vice versa;(42) second, it is clear that Gibreel/Mahound, not Satan, are responsible for both the statement and the repudiation" of the satanic verses; and third, it is suggested that Mahound later invents the diabolic origins of the satanic verses to mask the truth.(43)
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