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.
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?