Though Sufi music has caught on with the youth thanks to Bollywood and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, not much is known about the school of thought itself. That was until a comic book, 40 Sufi Comics, was launched. Focusing on the moral Sufi stories, this book is ideal for anyone who is curious to know more about Islam, and includes anecdotes from the lives of the Prophets, Jesus and David.
"We've always been avid readers of comics like Amir Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Tin Tin and Asterix since we were young. As Muslims, we grew up learning about Islam, and were inspired by stories found in its history and traditions. Though there are several books on Islam, we felt it would be great if these anecdotes were illustrated in the form of comics," says Mohammed Ali Vakil, who has co-authored the book with brother Mohammed Arif Vakil. Drawing from scratch Though they didn't know how to draw comics, the motivation to simplify Sufism gave them energy to study the art of comics. Each comic drawn would be posted on the blog www.vakil.org and on Facebook.
The response received was highly encouraging, and this spurred them to compile the 40 Sufi Comics series. The comics are divided into four major themes: ethics, spirituality, philosophy and existence of God. Alongside are selected verses of the Holy Qur'an and sayings of the Prophet that are pertinent to the respective comic topic. "The lessons in these stories are moral compasses, which teach us about faith in God, trusting in him during times of difficulties, respecting parents, taking care of the poor and needy, humility and tact," says Mohammed Ali.
Though there is no central character, the comics do feature important personalities like the Prophet and his family. But the Prophet has not been drawn and the important personalities' faces are not shown, as traditionally Islamic art does not depict the faces of holy personalities. "We're quite sure if people learn about Islam from Muslim sources such as these comics, they will find a lot of common ground with Muslims. We hope these comics help in clearing misconceptions about Islam and what Muslims believe in," says Mohammed Ali.