First introduced into the Marvel Comics X-Men series in issue #133, Sooraya Qadir is a mutant superhero that puts a powerful face to the often misunderstood Muslim women.
Appropriately nicknamed “Dust” for her mutant abilities to turn into sand and conjure up dust storms, Qadir is a Sunni Muslim woman from Afghanistan who was sold into slavery and separated from her family. She was rescued by Wolverine and taken to Xavier’s Institute where she learned to control her powers and became a member of the Hellions squad. Dust now appears regularly as one of the “New Mutants” or X-Men in training.
When Qadir is reunited with her mother she explains her choice to wear an abaya and head covering (the head to toe, cloak-like garb often referred to as a burqa) as a personal choice: “I never wore it because of the Taliban, Mother. I like the modesty and protection it affords me from the eyes of men.”
Created by artist Ethan Van Sciver and writer Grant Morrison, Dust is a modern day superwoman that defies the usual uber-proportioned, sexually charged images that depict women in the overtly heterosexual male comic book world.
Is there a hint of fetishism, objectification and victimization of the “exotic” eastern woman? Yes. But that is for another post.