August 22nd, 2010
02:51 PM ET

Opinion: Islam-inspired comic superheroes fight for peace

By Naif Al-Mutawa, Special to CNN

Editor's note: TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to "Ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website. Naif Al-Mutawa, who was trained as a clinical psychologist, created a comic series called "THE 99," with superheroes based on Islamic archetypes. The series is coming to television in the U.S. and THE 99 heroes will be in a joint comic book this fall with Superman and other Justice League heroes.

Fifteen years ago I walked out of a mosque in silent protest of the imam's sermon. Outside, the heat of the desert sun could hardly match the fire of the rhetoric being spewed forth inside.

The imam was railing against the foreign enemies of Islam and the sinners within. With every genocidal rant came an "amen" from the congregation. Some regrettably came from the heart. Others came from those on autopilot putting in their "time" at the mosque to fulfill their quota of good deeds. Still others were a tradeoff: penance for their sins, an economy of convenience that was born long before Islam and long sold as the path to heaven of other faiths.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Islam • Money & Faith • Muslim • Opinion

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Mark from Middle River

    David –  I do not know. I do not have any real issue with the diversity of the faiths. In some ways I look at religion as a kin to a martial art. If you want to learn how to throw a punch you can go to this dojo and they will claim that their way is the only way to throw a punch. As though the other forms of throwing a punch do exist. 

    Now I am not to familier with the faiths outside of the abrahamic religions but at the same time I really do not condemn them the way some of my brother and sister Christians do. 

    As for shopping around it does seem that many atheist, seem to have gone to a fire and brimstone type of church. I have seen those types of churches but it is often the atheist that throw out this example. Not all of them but enough to question it. 

    Now the question, your post had enough mature statements for me to read it but I have to ask about the unicorn and crutches part? You sound like a pretty level headed guy and your post was not the cut and paste of one such Reality. 

    I understand that you are not a person of faith but does that mean that a atheist can not talk and discuss issues with a person of faith with out the added insults?

    Think about it. I have a cool Muslim coworker and we talk faith all the time. I have yet to hear words such as 9/11 or crusades. Same as with my close white friends. I do not go to their home to talk about the civil rights movements or the slave trade. 

    If some Christians have pushed you into that type of corner where you have to resort to comparing God to a unicorn, .., I mean right out of the gate then I am sorry. Sadly though it is again stereotyping to go to that point. 

    In a way it is a kin to the church burning qurans. You call religion a crutch and say folks are chasing unicorns, is really no different is it not? Both action done to jab or stab buy insulting something that another feels deeply about. 

    Time for us to move forward together or suffer to pain and destruction we have seen through out history. 

    August 23, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  2. NL

    I have to agree with the statement that superheroes, Superman especially, tend to be religious archetypes. Talking to fundamentalists, I think that many see Jesus returning in a form similar to Superman: Powerful, handsome, clean cut, utterly white and dedicated to fighting for the protection of the American Way while wrapped up in the colors of the flag.

    August 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  3. I can see it now....

    SuperDressMan! (will not wear tights)

    Stronger than a guerilla!

    Able to almost leap tall buildings!

    Fasting in a speeding train!

    Able to go where no man has gone before! ...(harem joke from Star Trek: The Muslim Generation, sorry)

    August 23, 2010 at 8:30 am |
  4. Mark from Middle River

    David , is this the same Christopher H. that did come out and thank the people of faith that prayed for his health?

    David. The problem is that religion can be used as an awesome weapon but at the same time it is in the spirit of many religions that folks have done some of their greatest good in history. At the same time it has been used against folks.

    It is a human creation to try decipher who or what God or Gods want from us. Sorta like the movie the book of Eli when th guy is screaming that it was not a book but a weapon. This can be found inside an outside of religion. The problem comes from what side of faith you were hit with.

    For example some people without faith talk about how christianity treats gays and lesbians. They speak from the standpoint that all Christians hate gays and lesbians. We all know that there are gay and lesbian churches in society, so that takes the wind out of their arguements.

    I feel some or many athiest must of went to one church or ten churches but I know just as many persons of faith know you keep going until you find a church that you feel comfortable worshipping God and fellowshiping with others.

    This comic book is interesting though. I think that it might seriously flop because of it's marketing. Kids and adult comic fans normally fail to pick up on these types of characters. Their creators have good intentions but if they lead with "he is a Muslim" then it would be the same as if they lead that "he was a Christian".

    August 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Yes, same Christopher Hitchens. Quote is from his book "God Is Not Great". Great man, great book.

      If there were one world religion, I would be for it. People seem to need a crutch.

      Problem comes when you have different religions/separate gods.

      You spoke about Christian denominations having different stands on gays. Yes, gays and many other things (dancing, music, makeup, women in pants, contraception). Many of these denominations believe their members are the only ones who will be saved.

      Then we add the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Judaism to the mix.

      You mentioned atheists should shop around for a religion/church they feel comfortable in. That's sorta the point of being an atheist. Atheist don't believe there is a god. Any god. I don't spend a lot of time looking for unicorns.

      Knowing the Christian fundies, they will complain the Muslim characters are poisoning the minds of children. LOL


      August 23, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  5. Reality

    Simply more window dressing to cover up the koran's demands for male Muslim domination of the world by any means. Until said passages are deleted from this book of horror, no Muslim can be believed.

    August 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • NL

      Hey, as long as we're talking about making the world a better place through editing scripture, I think we can whittle down the Bible to something Qur'an-sized by taking all the ugly parts out.

      August 23, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
  6. David Johnson

    From the article:
    "Fifteen hundred years after the birth of Christ, men representing the Catholic Church poured hot lead down the throats of Muslims and Jews to get them to accept Jesus as their Savior. Fourteen hundred years after Gabriel conveyed God's message to Muhammad through the Qur'an, a tiny minority of self-aggrandizing Muslims are using the lead of bullets to kill untold numbers in an unspeakable insult to name of Islam"

    "Religion poisons everything" – Christopher Hitchens

    August 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  7. David Johnson

    Yep, that's what religion needs, more fiction.

    The Christian superheros will not be far behind.

    If you wait a while, all the fundies will claim the comic books were actual people and events. LOL

    August 22, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • NL

      Christian superheros, eh? I can just imagine them. Dressed all in white, a huge cross on their chests, their secret identities protected by a hood, a torch in their hand symbolizing the shining, cleansing light that is their faith. A beacon to fellow Christians everywhere in their own, personal struggle with Darkness and Disbelief.

      Hmmm... Doesn't America already has a bunch of these Christian superheroes?

      August 23, 2010 at 9:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.