Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (born June 19, 1947, Mumbai) is one of the leading living novelists in the English language. His most famous work, Midnight's Children, depicts the independence and partition of India and Pakistan in allegorical form. It won the Booker Prize for the best novel of the year by an author writing in English in a Commonwealth country or Ireland. It subsequently won the 'Booker of Bookers' for the best of the first 25 winners of the Booker Prize.
His later novel The Satanic Verses aroused controversy, angering many radical Muslims who believed that Rushdie's portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad (an illustration of a legend surrounding the prophet) was heretical and irreverent. Rushdie's book tells the story of original instructions from Muhammad that the Muslim people should worship three ancient pagan goddesses that had been worshiped in Mecca before the time of Islam. According to the story, Muhammad later recanted the verses, saying that the devil had persuaded him to add them as blasphemies. In 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran declared a fatwa on Rushdie, mandating his execution under Islamic law. Because of this, Rushdie was forced to live in fear for his life, under police protection for more than a decade.
Although Rushdie was born a Muslim, he has made many public comments in support of atheism. That, combined with his largely liberal politics, means his writing should be approached with caution by Conservatives and their families. After the terror attacks against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo he said: "Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms". However Rushdie does not observe the danger of Militant atheism.
Rushdie was knighted in his adopted country, the atheistic and socialist United Kingdom, in June 2007.