Superheroes aren’t just into saving people from burning buildings or vanquishing evil masterminds. Some superheroes use their powers to spread powerful messages: messages of tolerance, celebrating diversity and understanding. The 99 are doing exactly that.
The brainchild of Kuwaiti psychologist Dr. Naif al-Mutawa, The 99 is a comic book series inspired by Islamic culture and religion. It is about a team of people—ordinary teenagers and adults—who come into possession of one of 99 magical stones, which gives each of them a specific power. The members must work together to overcome the challenges they face—a situation through which the series aims to promote values such as cooperation and unity.
In spite of the Islamic flavor (each of the 99 superheroes is based on one of the 99 attributes of Allah mentioned in the Koran, e.g. wisdom, generosity and mercy), Dr. Mutawa emphasizes that the series is meant to appeal to all children. The characters come from a variety of countries and have different physical characteristics. In a BBC article, he writes:
“Only when Jewish kids think that THE 99 characters are Jewish, and Christian kids think they're Christian, and Muslim kids think they're Muslim, and Hindu kids think they're Hindu, that I will consider my vision as having been fully executed.”
The series has gained huge critical acclaim, not just for its creative storytelling but also for promoting diversity and tolerance. And now The 99 are joining forces with two other comic “greats”: Superman and Batman! Here are more details from The Guardian:
“… in what is perhaps the ultimate comic-book accolade, [The 99] will join forces with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. DC Comics, the US publishing giant, will publish the first of six special crossover issues in which The 99 will be fighting crime alongside the Justice League of America, the fictional superhero team that includes Superman and Batman.”
What are other fun ways to promote tolerance and peace? Given that this year—the International Year of Youth—focuses on Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, now is the time to think about this. Share your ideas!