Muslim Women in Comic Books

noora-the-light-2

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to announce that my Brass Crescent award-winning essay on Muslim women in comic books is being featured this week at AltMuslimah.com.  The essay, “Female, Muslim, and Mutant:  A Critique of Muslim Women in Comic Books,” is divided into three parts and focuses on several Muslim female characters appearing in both American and Middle-Eastern comic books (it was originally two parts, but broken into three for length purposes on AltMuslimah).  It’s been just over a year since I wrote these pieces for Muslimah Media Watch, but they’re still quite popular.  If you missed it before, you can follow these links to check it out:

Female, Muslim, and Mutant Part 1

Female Muslim, and Mutant Part 2

The final part will be posted on the site tomorrow (Friday, August 7th).  Part 1 focuses on Dust, a Muslim superheroine who appears in the X-Men comics, and part 2 takes a look at Naif Al-Mutawa’s “The 99,” which is considered the first comic book inspired by Islamic spirituality.  Here is a brief synopsis about “The 99″ from one of my posts:

The concept of female Muslim super-heroines in the realm of mainstream comic books is very exciting, but considering the sexism and objectification that women often suffer in this medium, breaking away from stereotypes and misconceptions may seem nearly impossible. However, readers searching for realistic portrayals of Muslim women may find hope in Naif Al-Mutawa’s fascinating comic book series, “The 99.” Published by his own company, Teshkeel Comics, “The 99” shows us arguably the best depictions of Muslim female characters to have ever appeared in comic books.

Judging by the title, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Muslim readers that Naif Al-Mutawa’s “The 99” is inspired by Islamic culture and religion. For those who are unfamiliar with Islam, the title of the comic refers to an Islamic teaching that God has 99 Beautiful Names or Attributes. Al-Mutawa draws from this tradition and produces remarkable superheroes – most of them teenagers who each embody one of the 99 Names of God via magical gem stones known as “Noor Stones.” For example, if the Noor stone possesses the Divine attribute of “Al-Rafi,” which means “The Lifter,” then the gem-bearer will take on the superpower of “lifting” objects, people, and even one’s own self through telepathic means.

Head on over to AltMuslimah.com to read more!

4 thoughts on “Muslim Women in Comic Books

  1. J-Heezy – you got a Brass Crescent! *SQUEE!* AWESOME! (I had to look it up, but YAY!) I was something of a comics/graphic novel nerd during childhood and adolescence, so this topic has a special place in my li’l ole heart. I loooooooved X-Men and its many, many spin-offs. I couldn’t articulate it then, but the concept of the Mutant struck a chord with me because mutants – like people of color, LGBT folks and yes, Muslims – are perpetually Othered. That is to say, they are regarded with the same combination of envy, desire and fear by the presumed “Subject” audience. I wasn’t reading a lot of Said at 7 though, LOL! Anyway, good show, and muy congrats!

  2. Hey Fiqah!

    Haha, thanks! Yeah, it was awesome when I heard my blog was nominated for a Brass Crescent award. About a couple weeks later, I was informed that my blog series won!

    I used to read comic books a lot too when I was younger. I agree with you about the X-Men. I felt the same exact way, actually. That’s why I think a Muslim character is perfect for X-Men because mutants are, like you said, so Othered. Nowadays, it’s hard for me to read comic books without getting offended by its treatment of women and people of color (especially in Frank Miller books).

    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed my pieces! Thanks for reading them!

  3. I just got a chance to read all 3 essays. Bravo and congratulations. The male gaze pfobably explains why I don’t read standard comic books, which also often have male gaze themes towards male occupations and preoccupations as well. Persepolis and that type of comic book or story are more interesting to me. It is impressive how the comic book world so rapidly incorporates current political events though!
    Again, kudos on your essay and mabrook on the award!

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