Ms. Marvel and a Muslim’s Perspective

Ms. Marvel, the new – and Muslim –  Marvel hero, has made her debut. As she does, Muslims as a whole have been vocal about their outlooks on the series. Despite being Muslim myself, I found some of these opinions new and interesting, and took great enjoyment in exploring them. Common trends emerged about what the series got right and what it can improve on, but keep in mind that there are 1 billion some Muslims in the world… a couple of thoughts from a few minds can hardly cover all the beliefs and ideas that exist within this vast religion. 

Illustration by Kayla Miller

One of the points that were less popular within the discussions was the representation of racism and islamophobia within the series. While the appreciation for the inclusion of such a controversial subject was high, there was a dislike for how these biases were portrayed. Although some level of this intense hatred is certainly present within our society, most offenses come from a place of fear, in education, and belief in what media outlets constantly portray Muslims to be. The leader of the Department of Damage Control was the main part of this unrealistic scene. Even non-muslims found it hard to like the portrayal of the department. Bria Wiegerink, a sophomore at NHS, comments, “I don’t know if it was bad acting, or just unrealistic storytelling or the lines were off, but the whole part just seemed really robotic, and unrealistic.” What was suggested, to enhance the story plot, was to focus on the implicit bias among the department, influencing them to make illogical decisions. I do agree with my friends, in that the representation of racism and islamophobia was a bit stumbled upon. I felt like the producers were stuck in some sort of entanglement, in where, they wanted to represent the extreme biases out there, through the Department, but they wanted to include a cameo of Bruce Banner in the department, and they didn’t want Banner to be a “bad guy.” I think this issue combined with the fact that they were trying to tackle a very sensitive issue, made these scenes have a sort of awkwardness.

Another debate was why Kamala was open to dating. While some Muslims might date, it’s agreed upon by the 4 Schools of Thought, which are followed by around 85-90% of Muslims around the world, that dating is not allowed. “Honestly, I would not have done this if I were making the series,” says freshman Maya Abdulhak. “I mean, it just feels like our identity is being trimmed around the edges, to make us more palatable. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, though.” It could be taken into account, however, that this might have been part of character design, as her family, from the Muslim eye, might not be as practicing as most (but not to be confused as non-practicing). Personally, I think the series would have been better without it. It didn’t really add anything to the story, and in all honestly I found it a bit painful to watch.

This series does the most wonderful job of including little tidbits that represent the religion and the culture accurately. I need not mention the Haram and Halal hats, which the sheik gave to Bruno and Kamran as a disguise. Haram means something that’s forbidden in Islam, and Halal means something that’s permissible. Another friend of mine, sophomore Aisha Siddiqui, commented on how she loved that they actually spoke Urdu in the show, however, my personal favorite moment is when Kamala is checking her Captain Marvel costume in the mirror. She looks uncomfortable with it, then wraps a scarf around her waist in an effort to make it more modest. Modesty is a huge part of Islam, and men and women have a modest dress code that’s obligatory. Our modesty is extended to the way we speak, sit, look, and even walk. I loved seeing the little mirror check she did because it reminds me of the same one I do every day. Just like Kamala, when I find an outfit that doesn’t meet my standards of comfortability and modesty, I have a little skirt to cover my lower waist that acts as a shirt extender.

I have so much respect for Marvel to debut our new hero, despite the challenges and criticism they might have faced. I remember years ago, my mom pointed out Kamala on a Facebook post, saying how cool it was that there was a Marvel comic that had a Muslim gal as the hero. Little did I know that a few years down the line, she would become an official member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.