Editors' Note: Guest blogger Sufyan bin Uzayr is the author of Sufism: A Brief History. He writes for several print and online publications, and has recently started his own progressive blog named Political Periscope.
Depending on your socio-political views, you may choose to agree or disagree with me when I say: Islamophobia is in the air. Be it the USA, UK, or even Myanmar, there are a good number of people out there who view Muslims as a community that is troublesome and refuses to integrate. In the midst of all this, it was a pleasant thing to read when Marvel announced that the leading character in their new comic book series will be a Muslim girl.
Just like all other superheroes, this one has a story: Kamala Khan (a.k.a. Ms. Marvel) is an American teenager of Pakistani lineage who hails from New Jersey. Her superpower? Shape-shifting.
Kamala comes from a conservative and orthodox family (possibly hinting at a crisis between her Muslim and American identities). She has a father who wants his daughter to become a doctor, a paranoid mother, and a conservative brother.
While this 'identity crisis' talk does not seem refreshing, it surely is not stereotypical either. The name 'Kamala' rhymes with 'Malala' -- again, it can either be a hint that all Muslim females need to be saved, or just a coincidence. A question that needs to be asked: will Kamala be portrayed as an independent Muslim female, or is she going to be viewed as just another Muslim girl who is dominated by the patriarchy?
Another thing worth noting is Kamala's identity crisis. Muslims in the West are often told that their Western identity cannot be reconciled with their religious identity. Will Kamala's identity crisis offer meaningful insight?