Every year in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, nearly 25% of the world’s population observes the period of Ramadan- a time of prayer, fasting, reflection, and works of charity. There’s a Muslim tradition, in fact, that during this month, good deeds are cosmically rewarded on an even greater level than the rest of the year. And what could be more charitable than protection of the innocent and the betterment of mankind? In commemoration of Ramadan, here are ten of the DC Universe’s greatest Muslim heroes to lead as examples in this time of personal focus and improvement.
GREEN LANTERN (SIMON BAZ)
First Appearance: The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1, 2012
Recommended Reading: Green Lanterns (2016)
Like many Muslim Americans, Simon Baz knows the evils of prejudice and discrimination all too well. Imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay after a series of horrendous misunderstandings, Simon’s will to rise above the circumstances he was placed in earned him a place in the Green Lantern Corps. First recognized by Amanda Waller’s Justice League of America, Simon was paired by Hal Jordan with fellow new class Lantern Jessica Cruz. Though reluctant to work together at first, Simon helped Jessica immensely on her road to handling her anxiety, all while Jessica taught Simon to put trust in the people who care about him, and in himself.
DOCTOR FATE (KHALID NASSOUR)
First Appearance: Convergence: Aquaman #2, 2015
Recommended Reading: Doctor Fate (2015)
Unlike most people to bear the helm of Nabu, Khalid Nassour is an actual doctor -- or, at the very least, a medical student. He’s also, like Nabu himself, of actual Middle Eastern descent. On a visit to the Brooklyn Museum, Khalid was chosen by the gods of ancient Egypt to become their champion against Anubis, the god of death. Today, Khalid has fully embraced his role as the new Doctor Fate, and battles all varieties of magical menaces alongside the Justice League Dark.
SAYEH THE SEER
First Appearance: Aquaman and The Others #2, 2014
Recommended Reading: Aquaman and The Others
In the Golden Age of Atlantis, King Atlan the First forged seven artifacts of great magic power. Today, Aquaman protects those artifacts from falling into the wrong hands… but he can’t do it alone. The Others are Aquaman’s elite team of international agents, each charged with the protection of a different artifact. One of those Others was an Iranian hero, Kahina, a precognitive metahuman and protector of the Seal of Clarity: an artifact with the power to translate any language. Kahina was the first of The Others to fall in battle, at the hands of Black Manta. She was succeeded in the group by her sister, Sayeh, who inherited Kahina’s precognition after her death. In Doomsday Clock, Sayeh was seen again as the leader of the Elite Basij, Iran’s premiere super-team.
Recommended Reading: Demon Knights
In a team full of magic, sorcery, and mysticism set 1,000 years in the past, traveling inventor Al Jabr was always the voice of reason. Calling upon the long history of the Arab people with innovations in mathematics, Al Jabr’s technical skills were often the only thing standing between his powerful allies and certain defeat. After his time with the Demon Knights fighting back the campaign of the Questing Queen, Al Jabr founded the Spanish Arab city of Al-Wadi, known around the ancient world for its technological wonders.
NIGHTRUNNER (BILAL ASSELAH)
First Appearance: Detective Comics Annual #12, 2011
Recommended Reading: Batman, Incorporated
A member of the international Batman Inc, this “Batman of France” is an Algerian-French parkour enthusiast and representative of Paris’s sizeable Muslim community. After losing a close friend in a police shootout during a protest turned violent, Bilal Asselah turned to a symbol of justice that all cultures have come to respect: the shadow of the Bat. As Nightrunner, Bilal defuses the high prejudicial tensions of his homeland and delivers justice to the streets of Paris.
REMAC (SALAH MIANDAD)
First Appearance: Batman and the Outsiders #3, 2008
Recommended Reading: Batman and the Outsiders
Appropriate to the name, Infinite Crisis was the confluence of a whole mess of global emergencies going on at once. One of those was the emergence of the OMAC drones, where people were selected at random by a malicious satellite to be transformed into merciless killer robots around the world. In the events aftermath, one OMAC drone, wiped of its original personality, remained dormant. Batman and his team of Outsiders recovered the drone to keep it from falling into enemy hands, placing it under the care of Dr. Francine Langstrom. Dr. Langstrom’s lab assistant, Salah Miandad, developed a neural interface which would allow him to remotely control the OMAC unit, dubbed “ReMAC” -- until, that is, an accident which left Dr. Miandad in a coma, but where he could continue to express himself through ReMAC’s body.
ISIS (ADRIANNA TOMAZ)
First Appearance: 52 #3, 2006
Recommended Reading: 52
Named for the Egyptian sky goddess, the first incarnation of Isis wasn’t a comic book character at all. The 1975 television series The Secrets of Isis introduced the world to Andrea Thomas, a schoolteacher who happens upon a magic amulet. After a number of crossovers with sister show Shazam!, Isis was adopted into Pre-Crisis DC continuity. Decades later, a new Isis emerged in Adrianna Tomaz, an Egyptian refugee turned Super Hero who captures the heart of Kahndaq’s Black Adam. Today, the hero has returned to TV as Zari Tomaz, a regular member of the time traveling crew on TV’s Legends of Tomorrow.
JANISSARY (SELMA TOLON)
First Appearance: JLA Annual #4, 2000
Recommended Reading: Wonder Woman #174-175
As Camelot had King Arthur, the city of Ankara, Turkey has The Janissary. Long ago, Merlin buried the enchanted scimitar of Suleiman I as Excalibur before it, awaiting a noble soul to wield its power. That soul came in the form of Selma Tolon, a Turkish doctor with Red Crescent who dedicated herself to saving the lives of her countrymen. As The Janissary, Selma wishes to be a champion and role model for Muslim women, lending courage to her community to protect what they love and follow their dreams.
SINBAD (DAVOOD NASSUR)
First Appearance: Superman #48, 1990
Recommended Reading: The Legacy of Superman
Young Davood Nassur of Metropolis’s “Little Qurac” neighborhood was one of many latent metahumans whose powers were triggered by the metagene bomb during the “Invasion!” storyline. Though his telekinetic powers were minor, Davood found them enhanced with the use of an experimental belt. In tribute to the Middle Eastern legend of Sinbad and his own magic belt, Davood adopted the name of the mythical hero for himself. (Never mind the fact that the original Sinbad stories never had a magic belt… that was an invention of a Sinbad cartoon series from the ‘60s. Should’ve done the homework.)
First Appearance: All New Collectors’ Edition #C-56, 1978
Recommended Reading: Harley’s Little Black Book #5
One of the greatest team-ups in the history of comics was the story of the time Muhammad Ali, the world’s greatest boxer, met Superman, the world’s greatest Super Hero [citation needed -Batman]. Born Cassius Clay, Jr., Muhammad Ali converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1961. For the rest of his life, Ali fought as hard for the rights of Muslims as he fought his opponents in the ring. And in 1978, he fought alongside Superman to take down an alien menace which held all life on Earth in the balance. After all, Superman may be able to change the course of mighty rivers, but who do you think taught him how to throw a punch? It only could have been The Greatest.