The Qur’an and Mysticism: A Review of Craig Thompson’s “Habibi”

The Qur'an and Mysticism: A Review of Craig Thompson's "Habibi".

It is this esoteric use of language to reveal hidden truths that has captured Craig Thompson's imagination in his long-awaited graphic novel, Habibi. An ambitious, surreal tale of the love between a young Arab girl sold into marriage and the orphan boy she adopts, Habibi spans multiple eras of conflict and change, stretching the lifetimes of its two protagonists over many centuries. The Qur'an is central to Thompson's narrative, though oddly enough the religion of Islam is not. 

Instead of retreading the usual unpleasant arguments over Islamic law, Thompson ventures into the hinterland of mysticism, exploring the symbolic nature of Arabic letters and words and their implications. Thompson's deep artistic appreciation of the Arabic language is vividly apparent, as is the amount of research he must have done. Reading Habibi, I found myself wondering about the author's own spiritual journey. How did Thompson, raised a conservative Christian, come to be interested in the mysticism of the Qur'an? That's a book I'd read, if he were ever inclined to write it.