Heroes: Do All of Them Wear Capes?

June 22, 2022 by Sonja Johnston

Shafique Virani (UTM Historical Studies) is Professor of Islamic Studies and was founding Director of the Centre for South Asian Civilizations. His scholarly interests include Sufism, Ithna-‘ashari and Ismaili Shiism, Quranic studies, Islamic history and philosophy, and Muslim literatures in Arabic, Persian and South Asian languages. Shafique is one of the JHI's 2021-22 Faculty Research Fellows and fills us in about an exciting project he's been involved in.

Recently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched its inaugural Muslim superhero series, Ms. Marvel, starring Iman Vellani. According to Forbes, Ms. Marvel “is the highest scoring Disney Plus Marvel series ever.” The timing is wonderful. Recently the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario supported an initiative to develop media-rich, student-centered, pedagogically-sound learning materials that professors of Islamic Studies or anyone else can use to teach and learn about Islam.

Professor Shafique Virani led the team, which included over forty talented and creative participants, including expert consultants from Brock, Carleton, McMaster, and Ryerson Universities, the Universities of British Columbia and Toronto, and the Aga Khan Museum. All of them generously shared their insights and suggestions for the materials and content. Living artists worldwide contributed much of the original art, music, and other multimedia in the modules.

One module talks about Ms. Marvel and also includes four historical Muslim heroes: two females and two males, from the classical, medieval, and modern periods, an Arab, a Persian-speaking Central Asian, a Turk, and a South Asian. Thus, the materials showcase the wonderful diversity of the Muslim world. Below, you can watch the four-minute introduction to “Heroes: Do All of Them Wear Capes?” which will give you a taste of what the other materials are like.

Anyone can download the Instructor’s Guide and the full courses with all their modules at the following links:

The courses are in “Common Cartridge” format and can be imported into virtually any major Learning Management System, including Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle. While it’s not possible to see the modules without having access to an LMS, the introductory videos are available on the iBrary YouTube Channel. Anyone can view them and subscribe to the channel to receive future updates.

Hopefully, these materials will be useful to professors looking for engaging materials for their courses as well as anyone interested in learning more about Islam. The modules can prove valuable for museums, undergraduate and graduate school classes, high schools, religious institutions, adult learners ranging from journalists to public servants, and many others.