A COMIC ABOUT TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE ISLAMIC WAY
The year was 1258. Mongol leader Hulegu Khan had invaded Baghdad – a city that was then a pinnacle of civilization and learning. Legend has it that the attackers set their sights on Baghdad's crown jewel, the Dar al-Hikma library, tossing thousands of manuscripts to a watery doom in the Tigris River.
Fortunately, cunning librarians spirited to safety the precious Noor Stones: 99 gems containing the library's ancient wisdom. The stones remained hidden in the Muslim kingdom of Granada until 1492, when King Ferdinand's Spanish army destroyed the mosque housing the gems. The Noor Stones were scattered around the globe, lost for centuries.
Sound melodramatic? Kind of like the plot of a comic book? It is.
Since October, youngsters throughout the Middle East have been discovering the legend of the Noor Stones in a new monthly comic book called "The 99." The series is inspired by Islamic culture and history – the title refers to the 99 names and traits attributed to God in the Koran – and aims to spread a universal message of teamwork along with plenty of action, adventure, and "kapow!"
The idea was Naif al-Mutawa's, a Kuwaiti psychologist who saw a need for culturally relevant heroes while treating torture survivors from Arab countries, including Iraq, from 1998-2001.