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The 99

November 26, 2008

Forget the X-Men (and woman), Superman, Batman or even Wonder Woman. Muslims now have their own comic super-heroes. I don’t know if you have heard of ‘The 99’. It is a title of a Kuwaiti comic superheroes book which derives its teenage characters from the 99 names of Allah swt. I know, how could they? That was also my initial reaction when I read about it a few months ago. Now its going to be shown on Tv.

The cast of characters in the comic book series ‘The 99’ includes Noora, left, an Emirati undergraduate, and Jabbar, a youth from Saudi Arabia. The creator of the series, Naif al Mutawa, is a clinical psychologist by training. Courtesy Teshkeel Media

The cast of characters in the comic book series ‘The 99’ includes Noora, left, an Emirati undergraduate, and Jabbar, a youth from Saudi Arabia. The creator of the series, Naif al Mutawa, is a clinical psychologist by training. Courtesy Teshkeel Media

When I first learned about the comic, its creator, Dr Naif al Mutawa who is a clinical psychologist, was under fire. Naturally. But his intention was not against Islam nor blasphemous. The comic showcases the spiritual values of the Islamic world. Take for example one of the characters, Noor. Noor is an Emirati under-graduate whose name comes from the 99 names of Allah – Noor which means light. Jabbar is another one, a youth from Saudi Arabia. Jabbar means The Powerful One.

Dr Mutawa’s company, Teshkeel Media Group, sells about 40,000 copies globally each month, casting a narrative that stretches back to the Golden Age of Islam and Hulagu Khan’s siege of Baghdad in 1258.

This is what the comic is all about:

Concerned about the potential loss of Islamic world wisdom, the city’s librarians infuse their knowledge into 99 iridescent gemstones and distribute the rocks around the continents – where they remain until the story picks up in the modern era.

Teenagers from around the world are exposed to the gems and develop special powers; a gawky Saudi, Nawaf Al Bilali, morphs into the muscular and mighty Jabbar, while an Emirati undergraduate, Noora, learns to detect falsehoods.

The strip is ultimately a tale of good versus evil, with the goaded Dr Ramzi Razem tracking down gems and teaching teenage avatars to use their powers nobly. Rughal, his 500-year-old nemesis, is the baddie of comic-strip tradition.

Religion takes a back seat in the unfolding saga, which reads like scenes from X-Men or Power Rangers, prescribing a set of “moral values” akin to Islam and other faiths, Dr Mutawa said.

Even so, Dr Mutawa, 37 and a father of four, has ensured his female superheroes dress more modestly than their Lycra-clad western counterparts, and it took until November 2007 to convince Saudi officials his strips were halal and he could access the kingdom’s lucrative market.

So I am waiting to see if this comic will ever be approved for sell or distribution in Brunei? Any views?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2008 2:54 pm

    Lets see what the Mufti say

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 26, 2008 4:20 pm

    Maybe not for now. I would also like to wait and see.

  3. M&M permalink
    November 26, 2008 4:34 pm

    mmbah…batah tah lagi tu.

  4. November 26, 2008 6:29 pm

    This is amazing, why one earth would people complain (ok, I know why they would but still)

    It amazes me that people jump on these issues rather than the real ones in our islamic society. You have girls being raped and not reporting it due to danger of themselves being stoned (unfair trail). Then you have the issue of unfair treatment in different islamic countries. You have poverty, girls being abducted and sold. And the list can go on.
    I think its almost TRAGIC that Muslims have come so far that instead of tackling the big social issues we bicker and fight over the smallest of things. Islam used to be rich with culture and art and moral values which lie deep within the religion itself. Go back in history and you’ll find great philosophers, artists etc.

    And then we ask ourselves why we’ve lost the glory.

    So, if a guy wants to draw and influence the youth in a new, yet good way, then let him for God’s sake and people should stop complaining. Let the youth experience Islam in a new and fresh way.




  5. November 29, 2008 8:34 am

    why not wearing tudong?…. i mean noor

  6. Anonymous permalink
    December 12, 2008 6:35 pm

    Good point Qwuan. But then again some Arabic women are known not to wear the tudong, just like some Bruneians… 🙂

  7. January 16, 2009 4:22 pm

    I don’t know some moments of this post..

    • Brunei Lifestyler permalink
      January 20, 2009 7:31 am

      Moments Jason?

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