BDL: Rush Hour III Picture

"Life is that of locomotion. If you are not moving, you are not living. Always there comes a time when you must stop running away from things and start running towards things. You must forge ahead. You must keep moving. You must avail. Even if your path to such things does not seem lit, trust that you will find your way one step at a time..."

Inspired from the pages of the Batman: Knight and Squire comic mini-series by writer Paul Cornell and artist Jimmy Broxton, the British Defence League (BDL), formed by Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, is a superhero team, sanctioned by a branch of Parliament, after the recent yet grisly Joker murders, which took the lives of six heroes. A group of eight of the greatest costumed crimefighters of the British Empire, lead by Salt on the Earth, was formed to make sure such a crisis never happened on British soil again.

Run along with Rush Hour! Born Mayyasah Naseem Mustafa al-Harwala to a large, titled but (currently) unprivileged Muslim family of Persian origins, she became the third-generation successor of the honourific "al-Harwala," better known as "Rush Hour." Her grandfather Serjeant-Major Sir Pervaiz Haboob Mustafa al-Harwala was formerly of British allied forces of the Middle East Command, which supervised military operations in the British-ruled Western Desert, East Africa, Greece, and the Middle Eastern regions during the Second World War. After being fatally shot and wounded during the East African Campaign by Mussolini-led Italian axis forces in 1940, he claimed he was visited by the all-powerful god Allah who revived him and rewarded him with one of ninety-nine holy attributes (or names) of Allah known as "al-Harwala" (or "the Running" or "the Sprinting" in Arabic), gifting him superhuman speed and reflexes on the condition that he would never use them for evil. Seeing his remarkable new superpowers in battle, the Entente Powers immediately pulled him out of the Middle East Command to become a paramilitary agent for a specialized "superhero" commando auxiliary unit, under the command of the Special Operations Executive, a branch of Section D of the Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (or MI-6), along with other "superhero" agents, such as Captain Jaques of France, British Bulldog of the United Kingdom, and (later) Spy Smasher of the United States, which became known as "Churchill's Secret Army" (or the less illustrious "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare"). Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance behind enemy lines, conducting guerrilla warfare against the Axis Powers, aiding local resistance movements, and protecting the world from any super-powered super-soldiers created by the enemy. The title "Rush Hour" was designated to him after a quote from his transfer letter written by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself: "One man committed to his duty in this rushed hour could change the balance of war."

After the Second World War, much of the Middle East fell into turmoil and Sir Perevaiz joined the Iran-Azerbaijan Crisis against the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin in 1946. He, afterward, joined the Palestines during the early years of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in 1947, however time soon disillusioned his opinions on the war: What started as a political war soon turned to one against race and religion, what was described "freedom movement" and "peace plan" turned into "tyranny" and "oppression," the level of violence witnessed became a hallmark of the conflict, as casualties were no longer restricted to military and political groups but thousands of civilians on both sides, and the concepts of what was "right" and "wrong" blurred until they were completely incomprensible. Sir Perevaiz formally retired to his family in 1954 a bitter man, believing the world had become "too fast" for such a character such as "Rush Hour."

Two years later, despite his father's warnings, his son Naseem Pervaiz Mustafa al-Harwala, the only one of his twelve children that inherited the Allah's gift of "al-Harwala," became the second "Rush Hour." Although Naseem had great, if misleading, optimism of the world, this was a fearful time when mystery men faced prosecution from anti-Communist witch-hunts and government blacklisting — a time when people demanded badges over masks — and the threat of nuclear annihilation became more of prevalent with the Cold War in full swing. Suez Crisis (or Tripartite Aggression) caused international uproar in 1956 when the Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, an all-important hub of world trade that connected the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, which was officially controlled by France and Great Britain. This action was provoked by a British decision not to finance Egypt's construction of the Aswan High Dam, as they promised, due to the nation's growing ties to Communist Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union and Nasser reacted by declaring martial law and seizing control of the canal zone. When diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis failed, Britain and France, along with Israeli, secretly prepared military action (with Naseem Pervaiz Mustafa within the ranks to fight against the threat of Communism) to regain control of the canal and, if possible, to depose Nasser. British, French, Israeli forces soon invaded Egypt and began to occupy the canal zone. However, this move was soon met by growing opposition at home and by United States-sponsored resolutions in the United Nations (made in part to counter Soviet threats of intervention), which quickly put a stop to the Anglo-French action, and forced British, French, and Israeli troops to withdraw in 1957. Europe, unfortunately, lost most of their imperialistic influence in the Middle East as a result of the episode. And now with government upheavals throughout rise and fall throughout the Middle East, the all-too-frequent seesawing from dictatorships to democracies and back again with the rise of endless coups and a long line of temporary leaders, and the removal of all things British in the Middle East, the Mustafa family, subsequently, lost all their privileges and entitlements. Gaining unpopularity after the Suez Crisis himself, Naseem Mustafa al-Harwala decided to discontinue any affiliation to political and military powers and, inspired by the superheroes and costumed adventurers of the United States, chose to become a servant of the people as a full-fledged "crimefighter of Arabia" with great success, battling supervillains like Bahamut, Ahriman, Shaytan, King Zahhak and the Daevas, the Ghouleh, the Vizier, and Djinn the Wishmaster.

After the events of the 9/11 and the declaration of the Afghan War in 2001, Naseem Mustafa al-Harwala felt it best to retire and to protect his family by keeping them out of the conflict. He watched the Middle East buckle under the political and military pressures of terrorist figures, like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, and his family's legacy of "Rush Hour," a symbol of national pride in the Middle East for the last fifty years, become a tool of propaganda for the radical cabals of Taliban and al-Qaeda and, as the result, the world media came vilified "Rush Hour," as a terrorist, a war criminal, an anti-American figure, and the personification of "the evil of Islam." But, in a few years, his youngest daughter Mayyasah Naseem Mustafa al-Harwala, one of his fifteen children, was introduced as the newest and latest to inherit the legacy title of "Rush Hour." However, her family originally had concern for her to carry the superhero title, but if Allah chose to gift her with the power of "al-Harwala," they were powerless to object.

Growing up in a land without basic freedoms, Mayyasah Naseem Mustafa al-Harwala grew up with a great love for family, religion, and tradition. She observes the Islamic niqab by choice because of the modesty it affords her from men, the practicality it affords to her super-speed powers (to avoid insects, for example), and to demonstrate her devotion and loyalty to Allah. Despite her traditionalist upbringing, she does possess a rebellious temperament, as she enjoys listening to illegal music of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Lordi, Green Day, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. She began to gain a reputation for her compassion and pacifistic nature, helping relocate farmers and herders away from the frontlines of warring governments, and even assisted in the capture of an serial assailant who threw acid in the faces of women in Afghanistan. However, despite her good intentions, she became a wanted as an "undesirable" by the Taliban, rejecting the idea of a female superhero in their nation, which lead her to plea for sanctuary at a British embassy in Iran with the military close to her heels. The British ambassador of Iran was able to ease tensions at his front door and offered Rush Hour III a chance to do good on foreign soil as the youngest founding member of the British Defence League...


First off, my friend George Payne and I would like to formally apologize to writer Paul Cornell and artist Jimmy Broxton of Batman: Knight and Squire comics for the massive "liberties" we took with their character of Rush Hour, but there is actually a very long, detailed explanation of why this happened:

The symbol that appears in on the turbans of all three Rush Hours in the Knight and Squire comics is that of the khanda, having origins in Islam, and can be seen today on the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a combination of a double-edged khanda sword in the centre that represents knowledge of divinity and the creative power of God, the circular chakra weapon symbolizes the unity of God with His people, and crossed kirpan daggers on either side symbolize spiritual and temporal (earthly) powers in balance. It also represents divine justice, which chastises and punishes the wicked oppressors, and authority governed by moral and spiritual values, and the power of Allah (God) who controls the destiny of the whole universe. It denotes the five stylized elements, consisting of four crescents and a vertical line in the middle, that form the word "Allah" (the Arabic word for God). These five elements also represent the Five Pillars of Islam of five basic, but obligatory, acts of worship for Muslims, which are (1) the shahada (creed), (2) daily prayers (salat), (3) alms-giving (zakat), (4) fasting during Ramadan (sawm), and (5) the pilgrimage to Mecca (haji). It is, in addition, meant to resemble a tulip in memory of the people who died for Iran because (according to ancient Islamic mythology), if a young soldier dies patriotically, a red tulip is said to grow on their grave. Soon, I immersed myself into the mind-bogglingly complex history, culture, religion, politics, etc, of the Islamic people for the next few days. However, a revelation happened when I learned that the symbol on the Iranian flag was not a "true" khanda at all. The khanda that was used in the comics was, instead, the emblem for Sikhism of the Punjab region. While Sikhism is one of the largest religions in the world, it is also one of the youngest, dating back to the 15th century. Islam, on the other hand, has 5000+ years of history and culture and, in all honesty, Sikhism came off as very boring in comparison to Islam. Nonetheless, we had already established a rather detailed profile for Rush Hour III (and her design with a niqab) as Muslim and fallen in love with the character as such.

Furthermore, Muslim characters in comics are, in fact, extremely rare and have been the subject of heavy controversy and ridicule: Two of the more successful Muslim superheroes can be seen in Marvel with the X-Men characters Dust, a niqab-wearing Afghan with the mutant power to transform herself into sand, and M, an Algerian with mutant super-strength, flight, and telepathy. These characters have been used to explore issues of Islamophobia in contemporary culture. Their faith allows for comparison to be drawn between real-life anti-Muslim sentiment and the fictional anti-mutant sentiment of the comic book setting, adding Muslims to the list of minority groups which X-Men stories and characters have been interpreted as providing allegory to. DC Comics, however, has had less success with Muslim characters with Nightrunner, an Algerian Muslim immigrant in France who was recruited to be "Batman of Paris" for Batman Incorporated arc, and DC was due to introduce a new Muslim superhero named Sharif, another French Algerian, for Superman #715, but was forced to be shelved due to huge wave of anti-Islam sentiment by internet-based comic book fans before its eventual release. The Muslim-themed comic series known as The 99, created by Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, a Kuwaiti clinical psychologist of ninety-nine superheroes endowed with an attribute of Allah, has gained attention in Hollywood by independent filmmakers as well as the television animation networks, like the Hub, but these projects have been placed on hold due to, again, anti-Islam sentiments in the West. Either way, comic book superheroes emphasize the importance of individualism and personal responsibility, protecting the innocent, representing the best of humanity has to offer, and standing up against all forms of tyranny. The Muslim population, as of 2011, stands at 2.1 billion, representing about a quarter of the global population. Why can't there be more Muslim superheroes? Even in a post-9/11 world, wouldn't it be even more necessary to show positive examples of Muslims?

I also want take some time and discuss the costume for Rush Hour III: According to the Qur'an, men and women before God are equal in terms of their religious duties. One person does not come before the other, man or woman, one is not superior to the other, man or woman, and one is not the derivative of the other, man or woman. The woman was not created for the purpose of a man but, rather, they are both created for the mutual benefit of each other, as true equals, because all humans are made from a single soul and are equal in their destinies in the eyes of God. Both men and women are required to dress and behave modestly in public, to cover the head and the entire body, with the exception of hands, feet, and face. One of the most puzzling things about Jimmy Broxton's illustrations is that Rush Hour III had a turban. Women are strictly forbidden to wear in both Islam (as well as India). Turbans, in Islamic cultures, are specifically used by men and used to emulate the Prophet Muhammad who himself wore a turban. It is to symbolize that they are descendents of the Prophet Muhammad, to denote their faithfulness to God, and can be used to identify the wearer's social status, where they are from, which tribe of origin, or what sect of Islam they originate from. Women, too, are required to cover their heads, not with turbans, but with a hijab, a veil or scarf used to cover head and hair.

However, let me disprove one of the largest misconceptions of Islamic women: Are women forbidden reveal their face? No, they are not required to cover their faces at all! The United States of America is the only nation in the entire world that does not have a national religion. There is no "Church of America." We are a secular institution where church and state do not and cannot touch — and we were the first government that exists today to have done this and has continued to keep it this way. Other nations, unfortunately, have not been this lucky. Governments have, throughout history, forced religions upon their people, whether they believe them are not, and you can be executed because your faith differed from what the government enforced. Yes, even the British Empire was guilty of this, forcing the "Church of England" upon their conquered nations. British rule in Middle East lasted in: Afghanistan until 1919, Iran until 1942, Lebanon until 1943, Syria until 1944, Jordan until 1946, Iraq and Egypt until 1947, Palestine until 1948, Sudan until 1956, Oman until 1957, Cyprus until 1960, Kuwait until 1961, Aden until 1967, Iraq until 1968, Libya until 1969, Oman until 1970, and Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Dubai until 1971. While a turban and a hijab (a veil that covers the head and hair) are mandatory, as they are symbols that represent their faithfulness to God, the niqab (a veil that covers the face, except the eyes) and burqa (a veil that covers the entire face) were used historically, by both men and women, to protect them from the sun and the weather, particularly sandstorms. However, it is seen by the Westerners as a sign of "oppression" and, you know what, it is: A government, particularly a dictatorship, enters the nation and forces the people to follow "their rules," including "their rules" on a religion, and if you don't do it, you die! This is the fault of the government. They are the fault of the people in power, like the Taliban. They are not, however, the fault of the religion. They are not the fault of Islam.

I have met women who wear the hijab, women with niqab, and one woman with a full burqa. Anyone has ever known a Muslim woman before can tell you that they are among the most intelligent, well-educated, strong-minded, most beautiful people, inside and out. They are among the most remarkable women I've ever had the pleasure to meet, so I've had a long-time desire to bring life to a Muslim character, particular a female character. There are many factors on why a niqab was chosen for the character of Rush Hour: (1) As mentioned above, there are few positive examples of Muslim characters. (2) I do not want to treat the niqab as a symbol of oppression or shame. Instead, I'd prefer to use it as a symbol of power and individualism. (3) Personally, the character is, in a sense, a "fuck you with my middle finger" to the irrational wave of anti-Islam discrimination clouding today's generation. (4) Like the Flash, she travels faster than the speed of sound, faster than the speed of light. If Wally West can use a pair a goggles to protect himself, Rush Hour can use a niqab for similar reasons. (5) In comics, female costumes reveal so much, sometimes too much, and it's unsettling for female readers to see their favourite superheroines with their breasts popping out of costumes, teenage panties peeking under their miniskirts, and wedgies up their butt cracks on every page. With DC's New 52 reboot promising female costumes would be more "practical," we saw Poison Ivy from this to this, but then somehow Starfire went from this to this, Harley Quinn went from this to this, and Wonder Woman go from this to this to this to this. Rather than wearing barely-put-together bikini with a domino mask, there's something appealing and quaint to me about having a superheroine that is fully clothed with her eyes uncovered. (6) In the Knight and Squire comics, there is a nudist superheroine called Birthday Girl who fights crime without a stitch of clothing on her. It would be a very practical, very exciting dynamic to have a woman who is the complete opposite who, unlike Birthday Girl, covers practically every inch of her body with the due exception of a little window to her eyes. These are two characters with extreme ideals and extreme personalities who clash and, eventually, accept one another's differences. (7) Faceoff, another member of the BDL and former veteran of the Gulf War, doesn't take too kindly to Rush Hour III, simply because of her race and religion. He represents the Westerner "everyman" perception of Islam.

The name "Mayyasah" is Arabic for "to walk with a proud, swinging gait." "Mustafa," one of the many aliases of the Prophet Muhammad, is Arabic for "the chosen one." It was selected specifically to denote that she, like her grandfather and her father before her, were "chosen by Allah" to have these special powers. "Allah" is an Arabic word that means "god" and, according to Muslims, is one of the ninety-nine names (or attributes) of God in the Qur'an. However, it must be said that Allah is not the God of Muslims only. He is considered the God of all people and all creation. Just because people refer to God using different terms does not mean that they are different gods. Spanish people refer to God as "Dios" and French people refer to God as "Dieu," yet they are all the same God. Interestingly, most Arab Jews and Arab Christians refer to God as "Allah" as well. The names "Pervaiz" and "Naseem" are Arabic for "breeze, fresh air." The term "al-Harwala," which is Arabic for "the running/jogging," is said to be one of the ninety-nine attributes of Allah where the Shafi'i/Sunni Muslims believe that Allah was a mighty sprinter who jogs/runs regularly.

The love for "illegal music" and the mole is a tribute to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis graphic novel, which is brilliant, if you haven't read it, and the animated film adaptation. It's not a superhero comic, but an award-winning semi-autobiographical graphic novel about a young woman growing up during the political/military upheaval of Iran. It defied stereotypes of Islamic women and I love books like that. Also, the "Eye of the Tiger" scene is just plain cute!

Models - Rush Hour III | Golshifteh Farahani

Rush Hour III © DC Comics (and George Payne and Diane N. Tran)
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