[Interview] Adil Imtiaz on creating Muslim Superhero ‘Buraaq’ and aim to introduce a new spin in the entertainment industry
Introduced in January 2011, Buraaq emerged on the scene as the new and unique Muslim superhero, ready to counteract negative perceptions of Muslims and make the world a better place.
Buraaq is “Yusuf Abdallah” a regular guy who happens to be practicing Muslim. From his mission to tackle injustice in the world, his role as director of a large relief organisation, to his ability to fly, Buraaq does not fall short of incredible abilities and fascinating adventures.
So as the first ever Muslim Superhero by Muslim artists, how is Buraaq making his mark in the entertainment/news industry?
I talk with talented co-founder and artist Adil Imtiaz, to answer all your burning questions. Adil’s life-long fascination in comic books and art, as well as witnessing negative portrayal of Islam/Muslims in the entertainment industry, triggered his inspiration to create Buraaq. Read on as he reveals the ultimate goal of his work, intriguing insights, plus exclusive secrets about seeing Buraaq on the big screen!
Tell us a few interesting facts about yourself? What are you passionate about?
“I’ve always enjoyed sketching and drawing. Especially comic book characters. Even as a kid in 5th grade, I used to draw my own stories and characters. Just a natural passion.
As a matter of fact, back then, I had drawn over 20 issues of a superhero series in a period of a few years. These were stories drawn on simple notebooks, and each notebook was an issue/episode.”
What inspired you to create Buraaq and why?
“Over the past few years, Kamil and I began to realize that the Muslim world did not have an alternative to the secular narrative and heroes produced by the entertainment industry.
In addition to that, there was a growing pattern in the mainstream media of portraying Islam and Muslims in a negative light. We thought there was a need to counter this, and the best way was to use our God given skills.”
Why did you choose the name Buraaq and what does it signify?
“Kamil proposed the name “BURAAQ. This was of course inspired by the Isra wal M’iraaj event in the life of our Prophet (SAW). The white horse-like animal with wings that flew at lightning speed. This was also a name that would not create any controversy in the religious circles.”
What is the process of creating a story?
“Our main purpose is to spread the universal message of Islam through a medium that is entertaining and attractive. Our stories are based on values explained in the Quran and Authentic Sunnah.
Kamil and I have brainstorming sessions to come up with an outline of how the story would develop and what elements of mystery, adventure, and action it would carry. We then focus on the details and characters. Our approach is subtle.”
“Hollywood, Bollywood, and the music industry have done a mighty fine job of entertaining the world…Why can’t we do the same to spread the message of the One God?”
Has Buraaq helped to dispel myths and negativity surrounding Muslims prevalent in the mainstream entertainment/news industry? If so how?
“We hope that it will, In sha Allah. Alhamdolilah, since the comics were first launched, we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive and encouraging response from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. We’ve had some decent international media coverage as well. Time will tell. We can only make sincere efforts and success is with Allah SWT.”
How does the entertainment value of Buraaq work with the Islamic values you portray?
“Hollywood, Bollywood, and the music industry have done a mighty fine job of entertaining the world, and at the same time conditioning young minds in subtle ways. Why can’t we do the same to spread the message of the One God?
Why should the narrative be secular always – contrary to popular belief, secularism is not neutral. It has its own agenda and we see the unfortunate results today in our societies. We want readers to enjoy a good adventure story and walk away with a positive message. Our stories, script and characters will follow Islamic guidelines. We hope to maintain that balance, In sha Allah!”
Does Buraaq’s Islamic values inspire him as a superhero, and if so can you give us examples?
“Definitely! Buraaq, or Yusuf Abdallah, is confident in his identity as a Muslim, one who submits to Allah SWT, and as such all his actions and thoughts are based on what would please Allah SWT.
But, like all of us, he faces different challenges and tries to tackle them in the best way. He always invokes Allah SWT for help before getting into any battles.
He tries to be a good neighbour, friend and role model for all around him. He prays, and studies the Quran. He has friends of various faiths.”
Does Buraaq appeal to people of other faiths as well, and how?
“Alhamdolilah, we’ve had great feedback from people of other faiths. We were recently asked to participate in a Muslim Superhero contest hosted by The Huffington Post. Of course, there will always be those who hate anything associated with Islam. That is why the need for characters like BURAAQ.”
If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
“We’ve always been fascinated with flying. I believe all of us, deep inside, have this desire to fly. Watching birds fly and land in different ways is an amazing experience. One of Allah SWT’s many signs.”
What challenges have you experienced in creating and developing Buraaq? How did you overcome them?
“Producing creative content is always challenging if time and resources are limited. Alhamdolilah! We’ve managed to tackle these in the best possible way.
The main driving force is our mission and faith in Allah SWT. It keeps us going even when at times some challenges seem overwhelming.”
How do you and Kamil complement each other in your work? What do you like about working together?
“Kamil is my younger brother, and we come up with ideas and stories together. He also looks after the technical aspects of the business. He has been instrumental in marketing and promoting BURAAQ on various social media platforms and at public events/conventions. He is the one who designed and maintains the SplitMoonArts official site, MashaAllah.”
“We will make announcements in the near future. Want it to be a surprise! Our ultimate goal: to see BURAAQ on the big screen…”
You say that you and Kamil rediscovered your passion for comics and art, having diverted from it whilst studying. What was this rediscovery/move like?
“We got fed up of seeing Islam and Muslims being ridiculed in the mainstream media, be it movies, news, or comics. We wanted to use whatever we had to try and counter this trend. Note: Allah SWT has blessed every one of us with special skills, we should put them to use and think outside the box.”
What should we look out for in the future?
“Alhamdolilah, we have big plans for BURAAQ, and In sha Allah we will make announcements in the near future. Want it to be a surprise! Our ultimate goal: to see BURAAQ on the big screen, In sha Allah. Keep us in your D’uas!”
Last but not least what do you think of Sufi Comics?
“We believe suficomics is doing a wonderful job of portraying Islamic values, and the spirit that is supposed to imbue in us all. We need more Muslims to step up and use their creative skills to serve Islam. May Allah SWT accept our efforts, overlook our shortcomings and guide us, Ameen!”
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