>> 10 March 2012 – book
This graphic novel is replete with references to the Qur'an, hadiths, and Rumi poetry that one would be forgiven for thinking that it was penned by a Muslim.
However, "Habibi", which is targeted more towards a mature audience in the West, can serve as an excellent introduction to plebeian's lives in the Islamic world.
Yet the messages are universal.
The story revolves on an epic love story which follows a couple from their shared childhood of struggle together in the lower stratum of a fictitious Middle Eastern country called Wannatolia (which I suspect is modeled on today's United Arab Emirates). In Wannatolia, the citizens have mostly forgotten the true path of Islam (or any other faith, for that matter) and submitted themselves to lecherous ways of life, filled with greed, corruption, and deception.
However, the two protagonists of the story always try their best to stay true to the path of Islam. Being poor, they are neither literate, nor do they own a copy of the Qur'an. Even the people of Wannatolia seem to have little (if not nonexistent) interest at all to their glorious Islamic past. But Habibi and Dodola keep reminiscing on the stories of the prophets (e.g. Adam, Abraham, Noah, inter alia) so that they could differentiate what is right and wrong in the injustices of today's corrupt world.
Perhaps to make some stories more familiar to Western audience, the reminiscences are sometimes paralleled to Judeo-Christian stories too, such as when there is a difference between Abraham's intent to sacrifice his son (was it Isaac or was it Ishmael? This book includes both).
The conclusion, which ultimately results in a poignant ending, is granted to leave the audience deeply inspired. It leaves non-Muslims in the post-9/11 world with a better understanding of the soul of Islam which is steeped in tradition, compassion, and peace...a far cry from the supposedly "violent" jihadist ideology that the mass media display on a daily basis these days.
Perhaps by understanding Islam better, we Westerners can have more better relations with the Muslim world. Because in case we don't realise it, we have more in common with them than we think...we strive and struggle on the same path of suffering for the cultivation of peace too.
As an outsider to the belief himself, Craig Thompson could not have conveyed it better. Kudos for such a magnificent work!
Verdict: 8 out of 10 stars