Did You Know These Comic Book Superheroes Were Muslim?

Did you know these comic book characters were Muslim? It’s been refreshing – and important, in terms of diversity and representation – to see how, as followers of Islam, the faith of these characters help shape their view of the world and their super-heroics. 

Kamala Khan – Ms. Marvel

  • First appearance: Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) 

Kamala Khan is the current Ms. Marvel and is Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book. A Pakistani American, she is the teenage daughter of immigrant parents who tries to balance superheroics with her schoolwork and personal life. She has shapeshifting powers; the result of having Inhuman genes, which were discovered in the aftermath of the “Inhumanity” storyline. She chose the name “Ms. Marvel” after her idol, Carol Danvers who went on to become Captain Marvel. Kamala’s Muslim faith can be seen in her personal and superhero life. On one occasion, she seeks the advice of the Imam (religious teacher) of her family mosque for advice on being a hero (without revealing her powers). Notably, her superhero costume also reflects her cultural ties and Muslim faith – it is made from a burkini her mother gave her.

Monica Chang – Black Widow

  • First appearance, Ultimate Marvel continuity: Ultimate Comics: Avengers #3 (December 2009)
  • First appearance, Mainstream Marvel continuity: Avengers A.I. #1 (July 2013)

Monica Chang is American-Chinese and was originally introduced in the Ultimate Marvel universe, which was outside the regular Marvel comics continuity. In that universe, she used the Black Widow codename and was also the ex-wife of Nick Fury, with whom she had a son called Julius Chang. She was eventually introduced to the mainstream universe in the “Avengers A.I.” series where she reveals her Muslim faith.

Simon Baz – Green Lantern

  • First appearance: The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1 (May 2012)

Simon Baz is the first Muslim member of the Green Lantern Corps. Baz grew up as a Lebanese American, and suffered persecution for his ethnicity following the 9/11 attacks. Growing up, Baz got involved in street racing and, in a moment of desperation after he got fired from his job, he stole a car. Trying to evade the police in a stolen vehicle, Baz discovers a bomb in the car and drives it into the abandoned car factory he was laid off from, knowing no one would be hurt in the explosion. However, this was seen as an act of terrorism and Baz was brought in for questioning, when a malfunctioning Power Ring – formed when Hal Jordan’s and Sinestro’s rings fused – appears, selects him as its new wielded, and flies him away from captivity. He went on to help defeat the Third Army and the First Lantern, and was subsequently made a Justice League member with his his criminal charges dropped and his innocence publicly declared. He is currently working alongside fellow Green Lantern Jessica Cruz on planet Earth.

Bilal Alsselah – Nightrunner

  • First appearance: Detective Comics Annual #12 (February 2011)  

From the pages of Batman comics, Bilal Alsselah was raised by his single mother on the outskirts of Paris, France. On his sixteenth birthday, he was caught in the middle of a French-Muslim protest with his best friend Aarif, where the police beat them mercilessly. After recovering, Aarif set the fire to the police station, leading to his death. When Bilal learned about Arif’s death, he determines that the fault lay on both sides; the protesters as well as the police. With that, he uses his superior parkour skills and becomes the masked vigilante, Nightrunner. During the Batman Incorporated storyline, a chance encounter with Batman and Dick Grayson leads him to become the French representative of Batman Inc. He is initially met with scorn by French Muslims as an American who hates their ideals, but Batman encourages him to think about how he can be a symbol and change their views. Bilal then goes on to become “The Batman of Paris.”

Origin story of Bilal Alsselah, Nightrunner

Monet St Croix – M

  • First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #316 (September 1994)

From the pages of various X-men comic books, Monet St. Croix was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia during a family ski trip to a rich, eccentric French aristocrat and his Algerian wife. Monet’s power set practically makes her quite perfect: she has Superman-like powers that include super strength, invulnerability, dexterity, and speed. She also has invulnerability, a healing factor, a photographic memory, the ability to levitate and fly, and telepathic powers. Monet revealed her Muslim faith when she defended her religious upbringing to anti-Muslim protestors who were shouting, “America for Americans! We don’t need any more Muslim terrorists getting in here! They’re just as bad as mutants.” Triggered, Monet flies in and declares, “I’m a Muslim and a mutant!”

Sooraya Qadir – Dust

  • First appearance: New X-Men #133 (December 2002)

Soorayah Qadir is a mutant who was born in Afghanistan. She discovered her mutant abilities to turn into a sand-like substance when slave trader attacked her by attempting to remove her traditional niqāb. She instinctively lashed out and flayed him alive with her sand-like dust. The X-men are alerted to this incident and rescue her. They bring her to the X-Corps base in India where she eventually reveals herself with the word, “Turaab,” Arabic for “dust,” which stuck on as her codename thereafter. Soorayah chooses to wear traditional Islamic clothing out of modesty and her faith has enabled her to survive tough battles.

Dr. Faiza Hussain – Excalibur

  • First appearance: Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1 (May 2008)

Faiza Hussain is a London-based Muslim medical doctor of Pakistani-British heritage. Faiza gained her powers when she, while tending to the wounded, was caught up in a Skrull invasion and struck by a beam weapon. This seemed to give her the ability to control any living organism, which is described by series writer Paul Cornell as, “safely opening up a body and sorting it out on a subatomic level.” In addition, she also comes to wield the legendary sword Excalibur as well as becoming a member of MI:13 and the steward of the Black Knight. During the “Age of Ultron” crossover event, she even briefly becomes Captain Britain.

Josiah al hajj Saddiq (Bradley) – Josiah X 

  • First appearance: The Crew #1

Josiah al hajj Saddiq (born Josiah Bradley), goes by Josiah X and is the son of Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America, and the uncle of Elijah Bradley, the Patriot. Josiah replaced his last name with X (like Malcolm X), and is a Muslim minister who does mission work in Brooklyn, New York. Josiah was born as the result of the government’s attempt to create another super-soldier from his father’s altered DNA. Due to his unique genetic makeup, Josiah has aged very slowly – appearing to be 25, when he is well over 50 years old. He is also extremely strong and has phenomenal endurance. Josiah is also trained as a soldier and mercenary with decades of experience with a variety of martial arts styles, languages and weapons.

Josiah X, a Muslim minister

The 99

First apperance: 99 #1

The 99 is a team of multinational superheroes with special abilities mainly based on the 99 attributes of Allah in Islam, created by Naif Al-Mutawa and published by Teshkeel Comics.The team is led by Dr. Ramzi, a scholar and social activist, to pursue social justice and peace against the forces of chaos and evil. Their powers come from the stones known as the Noor gemstones, which also serves as a target for the villains led by the power-hungry Rughal.

Yusef Abdullah – Buraaq

  • First appearance: Buraaq #1

Buraaq is the superhero identity of relief worker Yusef Abdullah, whose parents were killed in a hate crime. In grief, he headed out to the desert where he is knocked out by a combination of a storm and a meteor shower. He awakened to find himself transformed with superpowers and reconnects with God and his Muslim faith. Buraaq was originally introduced as a comic book series in 2011 by Split Moon Arts, by creators who wanted to combat the negative stereotypes of Muslims. Buraaq could fly, had super strength, and could control the elements.

Bashir Bari – Silver Scorpion

First appearance: Silver Scorpion #1

Silver Scorpion is the alter-ego of Muslim teenager Bashir Bari, who has lost his legs in an accident. After witnessing the murder of a mysterious metalsmith, he is chosen to become the guardian of a power that lets him manipulate metal with his mind. Silver Scorpion also gets special mention because it features a disabled superhero, the result of a collaboration between publisher Liquid Comics and the American and Syrian attendees of the 2010 Youth Ability Summit, a group of young disabled disability advocates. Launched in Arabic and in English in 2011, Silver Scorpion also features other superheroes that are disabled or able-bodied who come together to combat evil. The comic ultimately seeks to show, through its characters, that disabled people can come together and be something more and that they have power not in spite of their disabilities, but because of them.

Qahera

First appearance: qaherathesuperhero.com

Qahera, whose name means “Cairo” as well as “conqueror” or “vanquisher” in Arabic, is an Egyptian Muslim superhero who battles evil and misogyny with a sword, kickass fighting skills, and a sharp wit. The hijab-clad superheroine’s series originally began as a joke among friends by creator Deena Mohamed, then a 22-year-old art student, who was inspired by the real-life sexual harassment and white savior thinking facing Egyptian women. The webcomic soon became a viral phenomenon and dealt with issues like sexual harassment, misogyny, Islamophobia, and Islamist cultural attitudes. The entire collection is still available for free at qaherathesuperhero.com.

Kismet: Man Of Fate

First apperance: Bomber Comics #1 (March 1944)

As far as we can tell, Kismet, Man of Fate is historically the world’s first Muslim superhero in an English-language comic book. He was featured in Bomber Comics in 1944 as an Algerian Muslim who was also an official Allies operative behind enemy lines. Dressed in his signature fez, gloves, jodhpurs and boots, he fought Nazis in Europe, like other superheroes back in the day. His name, Kismet, comes from the word that means a belief in a power that controls the future – and he is alluded to have some degree of ability to see into the future, i.e. “Allah’s will”. His secret identity was never revealed – he is never seen in any civilian clothes and is always depicted wearing his signature fez, cape, gloves, jodhpurs, and boots. In battle, he would also spout catchphrases stereotypically inspired by his Islamic faith, like, “By the beard of the prophet!” and “By the star of Islam!”

Kismet only appeared in four issues in the forties, but 70 years later, he made a comeback in a new 2019 graphic novel by A. David Lewis. In this story, Kismet is Boston as the city heals from the aftermath of 2013’s Boston Marathon bombing.

Did you know all these Muslim comic characters? Did we miss any? Send us a tip.

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