3 years ago5,000+ Views

Because representation matters.

It's been a rough year for Muslims in America. Terrorist organizations like ISIS (Daesh) have worked to increase Islamophobia in an attempt to pressure people to join them. While it seems that the second part of their plan has not been successful, the 'Muslim terrorist' has been a major part of our media this past year. So to try to balance the story, here are six characters whose faith informs their courage, humility, and generosity.

Kamala Khan- Marvel Comics

Ms. Marvel (written by G. Willow Wilson) is one of my all-time favorite heroes. She's a teenager who gains superpowers and has to figure out how to use them to protect people. She's awkward and goofy, but what struck me is the love she has for her friends and family. It's her parents' faith that inspires her caped crusades.

Simon Baz- DC Comics

There have been a lot of Green Lanterns over the years, and he was one of my favorites. While bullying and hatred set him on the wrong path, when he was needed to be a hero Simon answered the call.

Arastoo Vaziri- Bones

He was introduced as an intern working with the team to help find the culprits of major crimes, though later on the series revealed that he used to be a military translator. He's incredibly hard-working and kind, and his observations are frequently integral to the resolution of cases.

Bilal Asselah- DC Comics

Nightrunner, one of the members of Batman Inc. is a French Muslim who chose to mimic the caped crusader after the death of his best friend. Though the tragedy was overwhelming, it motivated Bilal to try and bring peace to his community, much like Batman himself. He doesn't kill, and he tries to sympathize even with those that would hurt him because of his racial or religious identity.

Abed Nadir- Community

He's quirky and weird and relies on pop culture references to relate to people. This show was outrageous, and Abed often felt like he was anchoring the entire thing. Because while most of us knew that each episode was a reference to some kind of television trope, Abed was the only one in-universe that had it figured out. He was like the Deadpool of Community if you will.

Dodola- Habibi

This incredible story by Craig Thompson was as much about faith as it was about the journey. Dodola was at times bitter and cruel, but she found the courage to face the awfulness of the world with compassion and hope because of her faith.

Truthfully, it was really difficult to generate this list.

There are other Muslim characters on tv or film, but many of them have been very negative representations of Muslim people and culture. Granted, it is far from the most popular religious affiliation in the United States (less than 1% of the population identifies as such). But that doesn't make their voices unimportant or excuse the rarity of Muslim characters in the media. When our discussions about a large group of people are often characterized by misrepresentations and misunderstandings, it seems like we still have a lot of learning and listening to do.
@shannonl5 Thanks for this post, promoting understanding is the first step
@humairaa absolutely <3 @Krystalstar22 I definitely agree. Personally I knew embarrassingly little about Muslims and Islam for most of my life, and part of that was due to the media influence which cast the entire faith in a very negative light. I'm sad there are so few characters like this out there and I sincerely hope there are more in the future
You are amazing!
@djdoubl3up absolutely! You're right, Marvel has a long history of pushing against bigotry and I'm glad that they chose Ms. Marvel to keep that tradition going. Personally I knew very little about Islam until I met people who practice- before then I rarely heard anything positive about the religion and I'm ashamed of that now. As with any religion there are a lot of good people who are inspired by their faith and motivated to make the world better. I think what I love about Ms. Marvel is that it shows there are a lot of different viewpoints in the community. It doesn't depict Muslims as this hive mind but as they are- people.
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