'I have flown with the angel into the highest heights,' she said. 'Yes, even to the lote-tree of the uttermost end. The archangel, Gibreel: he has brought us a message, which is also a command. Everything is required of us, and everything will be given.1'

This is the statement of faith made by Ayesha, prophet of the archangel Gibreel, in Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses". With this sentence, Ayesha compels the people of Titilipur to begin a pilgrimage on foot to Mecca Sharif, 200 miles away.

What she's saying is, give your muscle and bone and sinew; God will replace them with ivory and gold. When you are weary, do not falter, but rise up twice as strong again. For better things await you in the new years.

This sentiment is the tenet of many faiths: your god insists on everything of you, and you will receive everything in return. Similar statements are made in the Bible:

"Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it."
-- Psalm 37:34
The Quran:
"The believers must (eventually) win through... Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their covenants; And who (strictly) guard their prayers; - These will be the heirs, Who will inherit Paradise: they will dwell therein (for ever)."
-- 023 The Believers: 1-7
And the Doctrine and Covenants:
"Let the work of my temple, and all the works which I have appointed unto you, be continued on and not cease; and let your diligence, and your perseverance, and patience, and your works be redoubled, and you shall in nowise lose your reward, saith the Lord of Hosts. And if they persecute you, so persecuted they the prophets and righteous men that were before you. For all this there is a reward in heaven."
-- The Doctrine and Covenants, 127:4

Everything will be required of us. It is an article of devotion, a religious talisman that sustains the beholder. And everything will be given. Never give up on me. When the night is dark, hold on. I will give you stars.

Rushdie repeats this phrase throughout the book as his pilgrims approach the Arabian Sea. When the stakes become high and lives are placed in danger, the first half of the statement is repeated, to emphasise the insistent nature of faith. But when choices must be made, Ayesha tests their faith by changing the command to a request. "Everything will be asked of us,2" Ayesha tells her followers as she asks them to consider taking the life of a "devil's" child.

As a rallying catchcry, it proves effective: the believers walk 200 miles across the desert and into the sea for their belief. We the people wait to see if everything will be given ...


1 Chapter IV: Ayesha
2 Author's emphasis. Chapter VIII: The Parting of the Arabian Sea.

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