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The Muslim Manga Project

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By Matin M

These days the Western mass media often portray Muslims and others who look Middle Eastern, as violent or dangerous. They throw out buzzwords like jihad and Sharia law to get the attention of an audience that is already anxious about these topics.

Jihad does not mean “Holy War”. Jihad means struggle, and the greatest jihad is to be able to control oneself or one’s desires. Allah-u-Akbar is not a war cry. It simply means that God is greater than anyone or anything one can imagine. Unfortunately, when a few people who say they follow Islamic teachings perform violent acts, it is the religion of Islam that is portrayed as teaching violence.

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However, the word Islam itself means peace and a Muslim is someone who submits himself to the will of God. Suicide and the killing of innocent people are both forbidden in Islam. There are violent people in every group or religion, but the religions are not to blame. The ones at fault are those who misunderstand teachings and attempt to corrupt them by performing heinous acts or encouraging others to do the same.

Because of the repercussions of such misconceptions, it has become even more important for people to understand each other’s cultures. The more we understand and respect each other, the less likely we will be misled by propaganda and lies that are fabricated for political agendas, and the more chance there will be for a peaceful and just world.

The Muslim Manga Project uses manga to help enlighten people on what Islam really teaches by creating manga style comics that address current issues. The project also uses manga for the purpose of creating messages of hope, love, peace, and positive thinking. As a result of the Muslim Manga Project, the medium of manga has been very effective in changing incorrect views of average people concerning the religion of Islam.

What is Manga?

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Modern day manga (漫画) are Japanese-style comics, which originated in the mid-1900s. A manga series may become popular enough that it is made into an anime (アニメ) – Japanese styled animation.

In the past, the medium of manga has been very successful in introducing many aspects of the Japanese culture to the rest of the world. Americans are not by any means experts on Japanese culture after the introduction of manga; however, the number of Americans now interested in the Japanese culture has risen dramatically; and as a result, their understanding of the Japanese people and culture has also increased.

Goals of the Muslim Manga Project

Muslim Manga is a project that uses the positive aspects of the medium of manga to give peaceful and moral messages to people of various beliefs, and creates a positive image of the religion of Islam. The intended audience includes people who want to have an unbiased view of Islam, as well as Muslims of multiple sects. In order to create unity among the various sects of Islam, the focus is not on one particular sect.

The platform of manga encourages the production of various types of stories. One mangaka (that is, a manga artist or writer) may wish to focus on a story that would enlighten Muslims on religious duties. Another mangaka may choose to make stories for a broader audience in order to teach general moral lessons about being positive and not giving up even when life becomes difficult. Another mangaka may focus on placing Muslim characters in interesting situations to show how a believing Muslim would react. For example, some stories show Muslims to be people who are not wrong doers or ill-mannered or even show them to be heroes or super heroes.

Manga1

Samurai Akiyama is a manga about a Muslim brother and sister who fight off demons to protect their village. It illustrates the heroic character of Muslims. There are also plenty of real-life examples; therefore, both fiction and non-fiction manga can be created with Muslim heroes to demonstrate that Muslims do indeed do good deeds. Other methods may include dialogue which indirectly tells the reader or some other character in the story about a particular positive attitude; however, the direct method (that is, demonstrating through action) is the most effective.

Religiously Appropriate Manga

Japanese manga is indeed very popular around the world for multiple reasons, including good story-lines and stylized art forms. However, for the Muslim audience there have been some negative aspects as well, such as the amount of sexual content that is present in some manga. One of the reasons that Muslim Manga was started is to provide Muslims with entertaining and religiously appropriate manga.

This project uses the positive aspects of manga in an attempt to assist parents and other concerned individuals help their children get closer to God.

The manga art form provides a more enjoyable format than the alternative of reading a book. In this day and age, more images are necessary to deliver messages to the younger generation of Muslims. A book may be the best source to truly understand a subject matter, but it is a lot easier to achieve at least a basic understanding of the same information through manga. It may also be less intimidating to a person who is not Muslim to read information about Muslims through manga.

What Can You Do To Help?

Manga can be a powerful teaching tool for understanding cultures. Muslim Manga’s goal is to spread the truth about Islam. We have witnessed Japanese manga’s power to introduce Japanese culture, history, ideas, language, etc. to young Japanese people, while at the same time educating people who knew nothing about Japanese culture prior to watching anime or reading manga.

Similarly, Muslim Manga’s goal is to introduce Islamic terms and beliefs to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. By using the medium of manga, this project seeks to create an alternative medium for people to learn the truth about Islam. The idea is not to force people to become Muslim, but simply to introduce and educate people about Islamic ideas and issues related to Muslims. In this way it is our hope that it will provide a more accurate understanding of Islam for non-Muslims and assist Muslims to better understand their own beliefs.

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We have been working on the foundation of the Muslim Manga project for several years and are now ready to increase the level of our manga production.  In the past year, we have begun work on three original manga and have two more in the pipeline. The work involved in producing these stories includes writing, editing, illustrating, and refining for release. Everything that we create is released for free in the form of digital content on our website, MuslimManga.org, for our fans to enjoy and benefit from.

Once we receive the funding, we will also release the content on other platforms such as Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks, etc., all for free. God willing, our goal is to reach as many individuals as possible. Up until now, we have been creating all of our content, managing our apps and running the website using our personal funds. As two college students, it is often hard to keep up with the expenses associated with this project. Artist fees and app fees are our largest expenses, with one illustrated manga page costing us approximately $25.

With your help, we plan to release monthly chapters of Samurai Akiyama, Hana & Her Love, and Benjamin Sensei, as well as many other manga. Every dollar you donate will go towards helping us spread the image of Muslims as being non-violent, peaceful, and friendly. We will provide meaningful stories that all people will learn and benefit from. We will create Muslim characters that our children can look up to. But most importantly, we will give the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world a voice that says, “This is who we are, not what the media is portraying us to be!”

We believe that this is a noble cause, and whatever gratitude we give you for your donation is nothing in comparison to the reward you will receive from God, the Almighty Creator. To learn more about our original projects and some stories that we are working on and to help fund us to bring about our vision, please check us out at launchgood.com/MuslimManga. To take a look at our large selection of stories, check out our website at MuslimManga.org.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Munawar

    September 1, 2015 at 7:31 PM

    No need of creating fictious new heros of Islam.
    There are enough real heros in Islam to which history is proof.
    But we Muslims are stupids because bigots like the Wahabis do not want to recognize & honor these real heros of Islam thanks to the narrow mindedness of Ibn Taymiyya.

    Be it Muhammad (saws) in Hijaz or Maula Ali (ra) in Kufa or Imam Hussain (ra) in Karbala or Haz. Abdul Qadir Gilani (ra) in Bagdad or for the matter of Haz. Khawaja Garib Nawaz (ra) or Haz. Sikander Shah r.a. ( Sai Baba) here in India—- the list is unending. We have enough heros in Islam backed by historical proof.

    In india these heros are not only revered by a cross section of Muslims but are actually worshipped by a large chunk of the Hindus. ( Sai Baba in & Jhule Lal is one such example)

    So no need of creating fictitious heros when we have real ones.

    Supermen or superhumans were already existing in Islam even before the westerners conceived about Mandrake The Magician or Superman or Batman.

    It is the grace of Allah Taala that he has sent such heros in almost every country of the world, heros who became famous by their deeds & by the service they rendered to the society when they were alive.

    I request you to please study the history of these heros & publish their stories instead of relying on fictitious ones.

    Some Muslims are pretending to be blind to such heros of Islam & thus they do not want to recognize them or rever them.

    So please wake-up Manga to the real heros of Islam & stop pretending!

    • Amatullah

      September 2, 2015 at 1:15 AM

      Bro Matin,
      Do you know the saddest part? The need of the hour is – To Teach Muslims Their Own Religion! I’m so sorry to say this,
      the above comment is a proof that we need to learn Adaab (Manners) and Etiquettes of communication before we go out and teach the world. It’s like being two-faced, rude to your Own brother but being nice and sweet for the outside world and teaching them about the “Real heroes” of Islam who have become extinct now. So, you know, you won’t find a bit of them in us because we are busy naming people salafis and wahabis! Sad.

      Bro Matin, I’m not a scholar but I definitely know that face and feature making are not from the allowed things in Islam. BUT, if the scholarly consensus say that the pros of it are way greater than the cons, I shall totally agree. This is certainly one of the effective means to convey the message of Islam. Wish you ALL the very best, May Allah support and guide us towards the right path for He alone knows the Best.

      • Jack Smack

        September 2, 2015 at 6:56 PM

        Scholars tell us that the real heroes are as Munawar mentioned, for reference, watch videos from Mufti Ismail Menk for instance.

        In comparison, what is this “Samurai Akiyama”? This is some generic Japanese monster story, with a generic Japanese setting, and generic Japanese designs, and a focus on Japanese culture. Only the characters are labelled “Muslim”, even though this clearly has little to nothing to do with Islam.

        If one merely wishes to indulge in cartoons and drawings, which many scholars indicate is prohibited by the way, there are many much better works that teach great morals completely in conformance with Islamic teachings and traditions that can be enjoyed – see for example “The Boy and The King”.

    • Khan

      September 4, 2015 at 3:45 AM

      Shia kafir all Shia are kafir. Illiterate Shia, ibn tamiyya was one of the best scholars out there. How dare u disrespect a scholar u kafir shia

    • Khan

      September 4, 2015 at 3:46 AM

      All Shia kafir all Shia are kafir. Illiterate Shia, ibn tamiyya was one of the best scholars out there. How dare u disrespect a scholar u kafir shia

    • Sara

      January 31, 2016 at 6:05 AM

      There are many heros in Islam, indeed..but where are the Prophets companions..they were many..why are they not mentioned here?
      And ..I don’t think e can draw those heros..eventhough I do agree-as you mentioned- that there really are real heros in Islam

  2. Pingback: Comment on The Muslim Manga Project by Amatullah | Souqhub | Blog

  3. M

    September 3, 2015 at 9:30 PM

    I’ve been following Muslim Manga for some time now. I know they have improved a lot but they still have a long way to go when it comes to story and character development.

    I’m still not comfortable about drawing Prophets or actual heroes of Islam, since it would be lying about them, because we don’t really know what they looked like, or the nitty bitty details about the stories (the problem with fiction). But maybe we do not need to make shows about real heroes, we can just tell stories about everyday heroes dealing with everyday struggles. We need to tell people that you don’t have to be a saint to be a good Muslim, or to stand up for truth when no one does, that you can live in the 21st century and still do what the sahaba did, you know, like always standing up for justice even if it means going against your own families, or fighting temptations, and making mistakes. We need stories that can show us that we can get along despite our different languages and culture, and our different understandings of Islam.

    It’s not like we do not have any talent. There are Muslims who create engaging stories and memorable characters with amazing direction and everything. Unfortunately, these stories and characters aren’t necessarily Islamic, but they are still good. We watch shows and read novels that are not Islamic, we make and write them too, then why not make something Islamic of the same quality? We just need some support, both financial and moral, and I’m not just just talking about Manga creation over here, I’m talking about any form of media right now.

    • Munawar

      September 4, 2015 at 1:04 AM

      I think a little broader veiw will go a long way in liberating the Muslim mind because deeds depend on intentions.
      Emotionality & conditioning of the mind imprisons the thought process of a community resulting in confusion clouded thinking.
      Foresight & clarity of vision is thus lost.

      What is required today is liberation of the Muslim mind.

      Agreed you need not be a Prophet, a Sahaba or a Saint to be a true Muslim! But atleast you can make them your ideals & learn something from them.

      • M

        September 4, 2015 at 9:54 PM

        Liberation of the Muslim mind is exactly what I am talking about brother. I’m sure liberation of mind does not involve calling prominent scholars narrow minded, and other Muslims stupid and bigots. Even the heroes of Islam wouldn’t have approved of that, neither would the scholars.

        If someone wants to make a story/animation about these heroes, sure go ahead, that’s their business, but it’s not something I would be comfortable working with or watching. There is also this thing called subtlety.

        There’s this author called Veronica Roth, who wrote a series of books called Divergent. You can tell she believes in God by the way she writes, unlike other authors. Now, a lot of concepts in her book are actually from the bible, and I would have never known that, she doesn’t shove it in your face, she subtlety added things in her book and it requires a lot of creativity. It’s a form of dawah, through actions.

        When a neighbor shares a meal with you so you don’t go hungry, he’s giving dawah, and teaching you what the heroes thought us. when a present day scholar is giving us advise, he’s doing exactly what these heroes did.

        I also remember there was this series called Saladin, inspired by the early years of Salauddin Al Ayubi. It was a good series, but I’d prefer it without the Saladin title, since unfortunately, it had nothing to do with him. I guess they ended up changing the entire thing to attract audience. That’s the problem I find when people try to make shows about heroes.

  4. Nony

    September 4, 2015 at 12:49 AM

    The negative responses reminded me of Baba Ali’s podcast with Omar Regan, where Omar used comedy to promote Islam in a positive way and he was criticized by other Muslims for doing so.

    EP 001 – Don’t let your critics be your CEOs
    http://babaalishow.com/episode1/

    Everybody has their strengths and weaknesses.
    Some may not know anything about historical hero’s, but can write and draw good fiction. Just let them do it.
    If you are so offended by this, then why are you not writing about historical hero’s yourself and try to promote it? Who is stopping you? I am sure if you do we would support it too.
    And I am sure that when you do, there will be other people like how you are now.
    People that will criticize you for not being Allah.

  5. Zaid

    September 4, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    I’ve always wanted to be a director or writer for a manga/anime (storytelling has always been a passion), but I’ve never spotted any Islamic alternative or team to work with. But that’s sort of what disappointed me about this project, that you do not recruit writers.

    But I do hope in sha Allah that this goes a long way and that you guys do find the support you’re looking for.

    • M

      September 4, 2015 at 9:57 PM

      That’s something I been wanting to do too. Everyone is not good at both drawing and storytelling. Both these things take a lot of effort, and development of ideas. Professionally done manga/anime are a team effort. There are people working on different things. There are concepts, first drafts, second drafts. The work at Muslim Manga, doesn’t seem to be done that way.

      Maybe you could leave a message on their discussion board and see if someone responds. There should definitely be some platform where creative Muslims could come together, share their ideas, and come up with something amazing.

  6. Pingback: Comment on The Muslim Manga Project by M | Souqhub | Blog

  7. R

    September 9, 2015 at 6:15 PM

    Cool. As far as I’m aware, there are a variety of opinions on the permissibility, or otherwise, of drawing animate creatures – surely it’s not the responsibility of the reader as to which opinion the artist inclines towards. As aspiring ‘Islamic’ art/media It should be judged on the basis of whether it inculcates Islamic morals, imparts knowledge to Muslims/non-Muslims or inspires greater reflection and piety. Will it kindle interest in Islam in the apathetic youth infatuated with the world of manga and anime? Is this Islam conveyed in a fun new medium, or a resignation to empty, meaningless contemporary entertainment forms with superficial Islamic overtones, an empty, banal salute to the Muslim Japonophile living in the West? I look forward to reading your work to find out…

    • Muslimstudent

      December 12, 2015 at 12:05 PM

      What is the ruling on drawing in Islam?.
      Praise be to Allaah.
      Drawing is of two types:

      One is drawing pictures of animate beings. It says in the Sunnah that this is forbidden. It is not permitted to draw anything that depicts animate beings, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, according to the saheeh hadeeth: “Every image maker will be in the Fire.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The most severely punished of people on the Day of Resurrection will be the image-makers, those who tried to imitate the creation of Allaah.” And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The makers of these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection, and they will be told, ‘Give life to that which you have created.’”

      The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed those who consume riba (interest, usury) and those who pay it, and he cursed the image-makers. This indicates that making images is forbidden. The scholars interpreted that as referring to images of animate beings such as animals, people and birds.

      With regard to drawing inanimate objects – which is the second type of drawing – there is no sin in that, such as drawing mountains, trees, planes, cars and the like. There is nothing wrong with that, according to the scholars.

      With regard to forbidden kinds of pictures, an exception is made in cases of necessity, such as drawing pictures of criminals so that they will be known and caught, or pictures for identity cards which are essential and which cannot be obtained otherwise, and other cases of necessity. If the ruler decides that producing images of criminals is necessary, because of the seriousness of their crimes and to protect the Muslims from their evil when they are known, or for other reasons, there is nothing wrong with that. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

      “…He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, except under compulsion of necessity …”

      [al-An’aam 6:119]
      http://islamqa.info/en/39806

  8. Pingback: Comment on The Muslim Manga Project by R | Souqhub | Blog

  9. ninuk

    December 13, 2015 at 9:29 AM

    my daughter can draw manga. i wish she could help

  10. Kinawa

    February 8, 2016 at 3:58 AM

    that’s really a stupid concept….
    This is not the appropriate way to teach Islam. I would rather that it’s the worst way to teach Islam !
    SHAME ON YOU ! You only are innovator.

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