We’ve all encountered our own Muslim superheroes.
While over a friend’s house, we began to watch The Incredible Hulk. The movie itself wasn’t too impressive, but it was rather interesting to see other superheroes like Iron Man subtly weave their way into this movie. I mentioned this to my friends on our way to the Masjid for the Maghrib Salah, and they explained to me that these individual Marvel movies are all adding up to an Avengers movie that is slated to be released in 2013. The Avengers are a team of superheroes that include the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and The Hulk, and so basically, after each superhero is introduced separately in their own movie, they will then come together as the Avengers and begin a new set of adventures.
I’ve perhaps only picked up one or two Marvel comics my entire life, so all of this was relatively new to me. In my opinion, there should really only be one superhero and villain per movie. That superhero should have his own hometown, his own personal story, his own specific mission, and his own archenemy that he needs to deal with. So for there to be multiple out-of-this-world superheroes sharing the same big screen and engaging in a global war with several villains, this was pretty cool.
The more I mused about it, the more parallels I started to see with this concept and our Islamic history.
Enter Musa (alayhis salaam), one of the five greatest Prophets ever. He has just entered the town of Madyan and feels tired, parched, and thirsty after running away from persecution for eight days. Even though he is in such a state, he immediately sets off to assist two young women that he saw were in need of help. These two young women return early to their household, the household of another Prophet of Allāh.
Enter Shu’ayb (alayhis salaam). He is a Prophet of Allāh and a descendant of Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salaam). Upon seeing his daughters come home earlier than usual, he asks them what happened and then listens as his daughters relate to him the story of the man who had just helped them at the well. The daughter is then asked by one Prophet of Allāh, one superhero, to summon another Prophet of Allāh, another superhero. These two Prophets had never met before this encounter and their stories are mostly narrated separately and independently of each other in the Qur’an. However, through the Plan of Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala), Musa (alayhis salaam) now found himself summoned by another Prophet of Allāh.
By this time, Shu’ayb (alayhis salaam) was very old and needed someone trustworthy to continue his work. After receiving a recommendation from his daughter to hire Musa (alayhis salaam) and after meeting him, he realized that this was the perfect man for the job. Therefore, he married his daughter to Musa (alayhis salaam) on the condition that Musa (alayhis salaam) works for him for eight to ten years. It doesn’t stop there; in the Tafseer of Jalalayn for the Ayah 28:28, it mentions: “Shu‘ayb bid his daughter to give Moses a staff with which to beat off predatory beasts from his sheep — the staffs of the Prophets were in his keeping. It was Adam’s staff, made from the myrtle of Paradise, that fell into her hands and so Moses took it, with Shu‘ayb’s knowledge.”
And you thought superhero movies were interesting? This stuff is real, SubhanAllah.
The encounter between Musa’ (alayhis salaam) and Shu’ayb (alayhis salaam) is just one of many stories of Muslim superheroes coming together, and in many cases, working together; other stories include Yahya (alayhis salaam) and his cousin Isa’ (alayhis salaam), Hamza Ibn Abdul-Muttalib (radhiAllahu anhu) and his comrade Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radhiAllahu anhu), Imam Malik (rahimuhullah) and his student Imam Ash-Shafi’ (rahimuhullah), as well as countless other real Muslim superhero narratives that best any of the artificial storylines that we have recently become so captivated with. What ends up happening however, is that we typically study their biographies separately and this leads us to forget that many of these Muslim superheroes actually lived in the same era as each other and acted as mentors, friends, and colleagues for one another. We should reexamine the stories of the past, and try to understand how they are all connected in their own special way.
In this day and age, I’m sure we’ve all encountered our own Muslim superheroes. However, did they merely leave us momentarily amazed or excited, or did they inspire us to become better and greater Muslims? Our pious predecessors built upon the shoulders of the great giants before them in their cause to spread the the message of Allāh (subhanahu wa ta’ala) – is it not for us to continue and further this noble legacy and tradition with our fellow Muslims?
Muslim Superheroes Assemble! :)