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  • 1. Comics and Islam and the Middle East<br />Fares AlKurdi<br />ID: 42046<br />American University of Sharjah<br />WRI 101<br />Dr. A Shine<br />Comics and Islam and the Middle East<br />Recently, a lot of people and companies in the Middle East have been wasting their time and money on writing comics. However, the question is: is it really a waste? Comics are more than stories; writers in the Middle East are delivering massages and changing the upcoming generation through these comics. Therefore, no, it’s not a waste and comics worth every penny, because nowadays these comics are changing the world to a better place, bridging the gaps between the Middle East and the world and they are changing the ways Muslims and non-Muslims see Islam.<br />Some people dream about changing the world while others are working on that. Comics’ writers in the Middle East are part of the workers. As known, the best way of changing the world is to change the upcoming generations and they are doing that through comics, which are a powerful tool to implant ideas in the young reader's mind. Nowadays, a lot of conflicts are happening in the Middle East. As result of that, children in the Middle East need role models and some hope (Nelson, 2010, para. 4). And these comics are giving them exactly what they need, starting from the stories of how an amateur individual in the big world was able to make significant changes around him/her and ending with the usual conclusion “good always win over evil”. But the role of comics doesn’t stop here; it’s much deeper, that’s why writers are so worried about details. For example, Dr. Naif Al Mutawa (The creator of The 99 comics) mentioned in one of his presentation, that the superheroes in The 99 usually work in groups of three and he cleared that he didn’t make it groups of two because then he won’t be able to put a boy and a girl in the same group. “Just because we know in Islam that Al- Shaytan is present between every boy and girl alone “(Al Mutawa, 2010). So as we can see, they are working very hard on details to deliver 100% positive massage. Because they know that they are talking to the youth through these comics. One of the changes that they are also trying to do through these comics is to change the perspective of women in the Arab world and they are trying to achieve that by using women characters in their stories (Nelson, 2010, para. 5). So as you can see it’s more than just a business. Also, you can conclude easily that pretty much all of the companies have a common goal. And this goal is not monetary, not personally, it’s just a noble goal, which is to spread peace, tolerance and positive values (Hussain, 2010). In other words, change the coming generation and the future world to a better place.<br />Through this vital media device, writers of comics are building bridges between the Middle East and the rest of the world. For example, “heroes from The 99 are teaming up with American superheroes this summer. So Wonderwoman, Batman and Superman will team up with the Emirati member, Saudi member and Libyan member from The 99” (Al Mutawa, 2010). This is a big step; the Muslim world is crossing over and talking back to the west as pointed by President Barack Obama (Hussain, 2010). And what is helping Dr. Naif to deliver his massage that The 99 is now licensed in 8 different languages (Al Mutawa, 2010). Another mission of these comics’ superheroes is to smash and burn stereotypes. People in the west tend to be stereotypical about Arabs because of the wrong impression the media has formulated. In short, people in the west especially in America think of Arabs as uncivilized, terrorists, untutored and they think that Islam is joke and that we are making up the history and so on. But there is still hope. Hopefully these comics are going to change every negative cliché and stereotype about the Arab world and replace it with positive things.<br />“Only by linking positive things the negative can be deflect”. That is what Dr. Naif said about changing the ways Muslims and non-Muslims see Islam (Al Mutawa, 2010). So his plan is to link enough positive things through comics to Quran to replace the negative things that are linked now. In The 99, Dr. Naif is not presenting Islam from religious point of view. He is presenting it from the point of view of values and principles point of view because, in that way he can relate more people to his stories. So he is sharing with the world Islam’s values and principles, and as he said, no two people in the world can disagree about these values, no matter what their religions and beliefs are (Al Mutawa). Also, Dr. Naif is very clear and precise in his massages because he is one of Islam’s representers in the world. And he thinks that Islam needs to be rebuilt, redesigned and rethought in people’s minds. And he gave an example of how people can link negative things to anything; in the east and the west there are a lot of negative things linked to Islam and Quran. Do you think the problem is from the people or from Islam? If Islam inspired animated series and theme park, obviously the problem is not with Islam (Al Mutawa, 2010). Optimistically in the future, the world will share the basic humans’ values and the original concept of Islam on these comics’ writers’ hands.<br />In conclusion, investing in our youth and upcoming generations is the best way to achieve those goals that we never thought were attainable. Through comics, it is possible to implant those most fundamental values and ideas in the young readers. Therefore, the roles and goals of comics in the society are more important than entertainment. And comics are very important to our young generation in the meantime. So looking at the bright side, the time and money of comics companies are not going waste and these comics and massages are going to inspire people around the world to be the change that they want to see in the world and hopefully, after a while, the bridges that they were building will be complete and we will see a combination of eastern and western cultures and we will see the real image of Islam, the image of forgiveness, peace, mercy, love, justice, etc… <br />References<br />Al Mutawa, N. (2010, July 20). The 9. TEDTalks. Retrieved from http://www. ted.com<br />Hussain, R. (2010, December 17). Comic Zeal. Khaleej Times [Online]. Retrieved from <br />http://www.khaleejtimes.com<br />Nelson, C. (2010). Truth justice… and the Arabian way. In D. Lewis (Ed.), Majlis of the <br />‘others’: A reader for writers in the Gulf (pp.224-227). Essex, UK: Pearson Education.<br />Words :1,202<br />References<br />Al Mutawa, N. (2010, July 20). The 9. TEDTalks. Retrieved from http://www. ted.com<br />Hussain, R. (2010, December 17). Comic Zeal. Khaleej Times [Online]. Retrieved from <br />http://www.khaleejtimes.com<br />Nelson, C. (2010). Truth justice… and the Arabian way. In D. Lewis (Ed.), Majlis of the <br />‘others’: A reader for writers in the Gulf (pp.224-227). Essex, UK: Pearson Education.<br />