Representation is a very important issue in both Hollywood and the comic book industry, and the representation of Islam and Muslim characters in these mediums is still very rare. Today is Eid Al Fitr, a worldwide Muslim holiday celebrated at the end of the holy month of Ramadan (it’s basically the Muslim version of Christmas).
I wrote this article because I think accurate representation and diversity is very important in all forms of media: comic books, movies, tv shows, books, etc. As a Muslim, it’s very common to see bad representation of my religion in Hollywood and the media as terrorists or savages, and those depictions are untrue and racist, so having positive representation, such as these great characters, helps to break those stereotypes and showcase our true culture. Kevin Feige has said we’re getting a Ms. Marvel movie, so I can’t wait for that to happen and for more positive representations of Muslims and Islam!
So in celebration of Eid, let’s take a look at some of the amazing Muslim comic book characters and hope for even more representation!
Ms. Marvel – Marvel Comics
Kamala Khan is a Pakistani American superhero from New Jersey, the daughter of Muslim immigrants who tries to balance hero work with schoolwork and her personal life, which includes practicing her Muslim faith.
She has shapeshifting abilities, and discovers that she has Inhuman genes in the aftermath of the “Inhumanity” storyline. Kamala named herself Ms Marvel after her role model, Captain Marvel, and she created her own superhero costume using a “burkini” her mother bought for her.
She was created by G. Willow Wilson, Sana Amanat, and Adrian Alphona. Amanat says of the Ms. Marvel comics and character: “As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself”
Simon Baz (Green Lantern) – DC Comics
Simon Baz is a Lebanese American, who becomes the first Middle Eastern and Muslim of the Green Lantern Corps, an extraterrestrial police force. His Lebanese heritage was inspired by Geoff Johns’ heritage, who is the co-creator of the character, and is half Lebanese.
Growing up, Simon is discriminated against due to his ethnicity and religion after 9/11, and became a Green Lantern after attempting to save lives by driving a stolen car filled with explosives into an abandoned car factory, knowing it wouldn’t harm anyone besides himself, though the incident is called a “terrorist incident by authorities”.
Since then, he has helped defeat the Third Army and the First Lantern and became a member of the Justice League.
Bilal Aisselah (Nightrunner) – DC Comics
Bilal was a young Algerian-French boy from Paris, until his 16th birthday when he & his best friend Arif were caught in the middle of a French-Muslim protest and were severely beaten by the police. Although they recovered, Arif had another violent encounter with the police and was killed, leading Bilal to realize that both the protestors and the police are at fault.
As a student he starts training as a parkour athlete, and inspired by the memory of his friend and his newfound morals, Bilal becomes a masked vigilante named Nightrunner.
He became the French representative of Batman Incorporated after meeting Batman and Dick Grayson, receiving an apartment with a secret base and equipment from Bruce Wayne, and training from Grayson. He is known as “The Batman of Paris” or “The Muslim Batman”.
M / Monet St. Croix – Marvel Comics
Monet St. Croix is a mutant with many superpowers such as super strength, flight, levitation, invulnerability, dexterity, speed, healing, a photographic memory, and telepathy.
Monet was born in Bosnia to a rich family, but grew up very spoiled. Shortly after her mother’s mysterious death, her brother Marius, who was also a mutant, but a vampiric super-villain known as Emplate, was banished from their home.
M has been a member of different branches of the X-Men, including “Generation X” and “X-Factor Investigations”. It was revealed that she was a Muslim in the X-Factor comics, when she defended her religion in an anti-Muslim protest. Nowadays she is a member of Magneto’s branch of the X-Men known as the “Uncanny X-Men.”
Dust (Soorayah Qadir) – Marvel Comics
Soorayah was born in Afghanistan, and discovers she was the power to transform into a cloud of dust and sand after attacking a slave trader who tried to remove her niqab (the facial part of the clothing known as the abaya).
After the incident, she meets the X-Men, introducing herself with the word “Turaab”, which is Arabic for the word “Dust”, which would later become her codename when she went on to join the X-Men teams, such as the Hellion Squad of the “New X-Men” comic series and “Young X-Men.”
Soorayah chooses to wear traditional Islamic clothing out of modesty, is shown praying, and answering questions about Islam from her teammates.
Excalibur (Faiza Hussain) – Marvel Comics
First appearing in “Captain Britain and MI:13”, Faiza Hussain is a British Muslim doctor who gains the ability to control any living organism after being hit by a Skrull laser weapon during an invasion; her powers are useful to her as a doctor and as a superhero, as she has been shown disassembling a body into its basic parts while keeping a patient alive and stopping an army of Skrulls from moving.
Faiza also wields the legendary sword Excalibur and uses it to fight vampires after becoming the steward of the superhero Black Knight, and after becoming a member of MI:13, a British Intelligence agency.
During the “Age of Ultron” crossover event, she briefly dons the Captain Britain mantle when the original Captain Britain, Brian Maddock was afraid he would die in battle.
MI:13 agent Pete Wisdom gives Faiza the codename “Excalibur” because he wants the supervillain Dracula and his forces to hear and know that the mythical blade is still an active part of MI:13.
Monica Chang – Marvel Comics
Most people associate the title Black Widow with Natasha Romanoff, but there are also others who have taken up the mantle, such as Monica Chang.
Monica Chang took on the Black Widow mantle in the Ultimate Marvel Universe and is also the ex-wife of Nick Fury, with whom she had one child named Julius Chang.
As Black Widow, she worked with the Avengers in order to recapture Captain America and fight the Red Skull, and she captures and recruits the Punisher into The Avengers.
After being transferred into The New Ultimates, she became the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and assists Jessica Drew, who became the next Black Widow.
Monica Chang mainly appears in the series Avengers:A.I., where she is the head of the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s A.I. division.
Alongside Henry Pym, a Doombot, Victor Mancha, and Vision, she fights against an artificial intelligence threat named Dimitrios. It is in this series that it is revealed that she is Muslim.
Kahina Eskandari (Iron Butterfly) – DC Comics
Originally created by Milestone Comics and later integrated into the DC Universe,
Kahina Eskandari is a Palestinian hero with the ability to move, shape, and control metal and metallic objects.
Her codename, Iron Butterfly, comes from the medieval style armor she wears into battle, which has wings that allow her to fly. She is also a genius tactician and is skilled in sword-fighting.
She is the field commander of the Shadow Cabinet, a crew of crime-fighters, while moonlighting as a corporate translator by day.
Her origin story is unclear, but it is known that her family was murdered at some point and she seeks to avenge them. She was inspired to join the Shadow Cabinet after listening to the team leader Dharma talk about justice. Her first appearance was in the 11th issue of Hardware, where she offers the superhero Hardware a place in the Shadow Cabinet.
Josiah X – Marvel Comics
Josiah grew up in a Catholic orphanage outside of Boston, and his powers revealed themselves when he was a teenager and lashed out a nun in the orphanage. He entered the US Army under the name Josiah Smith. He served several tours in the Vietnam War, and after attacking a racist officer, he was sent back to America to serve time in prison.
Later blood tests revealed he was a missing baby with the Super-Soldier serum, and when they brought in his surrogate mother to confirm a genetic match, she helped his escape the prison & told him the truth about his past and the real names of his genetic parents.
He is the son of Isiah Bradley, the black Captain America, who was experimented on using the super soldier serum.
After meeting his real parents, Josiah left the US and traveled as a private military contractor and adventurer; he eventually travelled to Africa, where he discovered Islam, became a Muslim, and decided to use his new faith to find a purpose for his life and made the Islamic holy pilgrimage (Hajj) and became an Imam (Muslim Minister) before returning to the United States and changing his name to Josiah X.
Josiah abilities include artificially enhanced physiology at the absolute peak of human strength, speed, agility, dexterity, reflexes/reactions, coordination, balance, and endurance.
Written by Minwa Ali