Many people are at least vaguely aware of the existence of the ‘Satanic Verses’ due to the death sentence they earned the novelist Salman Rushdie from Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
Muhammad’s earliest biographer, related that he received the following revelation: “Have you thought of al-Lat and al-`Uzza and Manat the third, the other these are the exalted a high flying crane whose intercession is approved”.
The names are those of pre-Islamic goddesses and the people of Mecca were delighted that Muhammad was backtracking on his strict monotheism. However, his followers furiously objected, they had suffered far too much due to rejecting these gods.
Muhammad’s solution: Declare the verses to be inspired by Satan and expunge them from the Qur’an! Hence ‘The Satanic Verses’.
The Ayatollah was right to be furious, because this incident obviously raises massive issues about the nature of revelation and the ‘prophet’s’ discernment. To put it bluntly, if Satan could successfully dupe the ‘prophet’ in this case who is to say that there were not other instances of the same thing happening?
For much more about the questionable textual history for the Qur’an, please see my book: ‘The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’