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Superheroes Inspired by Islam

October 13, 2010

By Lief Pagalan

The Superheroes of Islam – The 99

Naif Al-Mutawa, a clinical psychologist by training, has created a group of comic superheroes inspired by Islamic culture and society. Called “The 99”, they derive their powers from the 99 attributes of Allah. The group will feature diverse members from a range of Muslim nations, and will also cross cultures to battle evil with the Justice League of America, a super group that includes pop culture icons Wonderwoman, Batman, and Superman, who themselves represent many of the ideals of Western society.

Naif introduced his team at a recent Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference in July 2010. His presentation can be viewed at the following link: http://www.ted.com/talks/naif_al_mutawa_superheroes_inspired_by_islam.html

Although the comics provide an exciting platform for intercultural dialogue and cultural exchange, the comic book format for Naif’s Islam-based characters has been controversial; some conservative Muslim authorities argue that the work is offensive because it includes human characters who are personifications of God and God’s attributes; this is considered a disrespectful interpretation of the Qur’an, which as the literal word of God should never be altered or combined with other creative narratives.

Despite this controversy, Naif believes that the 99 represent positive messages for Islam; they were created to “smash stereotypes and battle extremism,” and to provide a model of Muslim individuals cooperating with each other, and with other religions and cultures. Naif hopes that his superheroes will encourage intercultural understanding and dialogue through an appealing comic art format that will capture the imaginations of readers worldwide.

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Ngaire Blankenberg / October 18, 2010

It reminds me of this group of Toronto guys who have started a ‘Heroes of the World’ company- making t-shirts etc with superheroes from all over the world. We saw them selling t-shirts at Caribana in the summer and bought a couple. http://www.theheroesoftheworld.com/index.html. Everyone deserves a superhero I guess. Although I still get a chill every time I think of that line from that creepy, slightly fascistic Disney flick ‘The Incredibles’: ” If everybody is special than no one is”. Long live the Superheroes of and for the people.


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