The 99

Teshkeel Comics published The Ninety-Nine in 2007. The Ninety-Nine is a comic book featuring, for the first time a team of superheroes based on Islamic culture and religion. They embody the 99 attributes of Allah and come from 99 different countries. For example ‘Noora’, who has the power to look into people and see the bad and good in them and ‘Jami’ has the ability to create magnificent inventions. The creator’s desire was to rescue Islam from the images of intolerance in a child friendly way. In a recent TED Talk, Shereen El Feki said that THE 99 is not just a comic series, it is a theme park and has it’s own animated series and shortly the likes of superman and wonder woman are to join forces with the 99 to beat injustice wherever they find it. Teshkeel initially entered the animated television world with the comic book series. However, recently The 99 has prospered and now partners with DC Comics’ Justice League of American standing cape to shoulder with the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to defeat the friends of evil. The 99 are ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe, who come into possession of one of the ninety-nine magical mystical Noor Stones (Ahjar Al Noor, Stones of Light) and find themselves empowered in a specific manner. All dilemmas faced by The 99 are overcome through the combined powers and capabilities of three or more members. Through this, the 99 series aims to promote values such as cooperation and unity globally and throughout the Islamic world. The 99, uses appropriation of various superheros, like the recent Arab hip-hop songs to appeal to every section of the Islamic public sphere. Further, the collaboration with international companies has increased their transnational impact. The 99, has its own comic books, tv series and movies, in English and Arabic.


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4 Responses to The 99

  1. This is a very interesting concept. It reminds me of 1001 Nights, an animated series produced by Big Bad Boo Studios which has a similar goal of educating children about the culture of Middle East by making it more palatable to young people. Both cartoons deal with very challenging issues of balancing simplification with accuracy while also maintaining authenticity. For example, The 99 appears to educate children about the humanity of Islam but it does so in a very American context. Animation is an American media form in itself so is it possible to appropriate it to an international context?

  2. I really like this concept because it not only makes Islam more accessible to young children, it also combats islamophobia by showing Islam in a different light than how its usually portrayed in the media. I know the chaarcters embody the 99 attributes of allah but I was curious as to whether this was something that was emphasized in the comics/tv show–that is, are the allusions to Islam more in the background (as in something that only someone familiar with Islam would recognize) or are they addressed directly by the text?

  3. Zara Juneja says:

    This is really interesting. When I was reading about this, all I could think about was the class in which we discussed the Danish Cartoon Controversy. In this case, Teshkeel Comics used this creative way to get around the Islamic prohibition on depictions of the Prophet. This was similarly done in The Message, a 1976 movie directed by Moustaphe Akkad in which the camera view acts like the Prophet’s presence. Thus, its really interesting to see how the Islamic public sphere goes about depicting the Prophet in ways that adhere to the expectations and restrictions of the religion and also, how this differs from the liberal Western public sphere. This is in particular regard to the way in which Jyllands-Pasten issued a challenge to depict prophet Muhammad, as they say, to contribute to conversations about freedom of the press & Islam. Therefore what we see with these comics is thus one other such example of the way in which teachings of Islam are disseminated in a culturally and religiously appropriate manner, quite contrary to what Jyllands-Pasten sought to do.

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