"I am asking you for something more difficult. If you insist on pursuing this thing you will not tell me about, do it with the qualities befitting an upright young woman: Courage, strength, honesty, compassion, and self-respect.”
I enjoyed this reversal of expectations from Sheikh Abdullah. Kamala’s last interaction with him ended in a disagreement on the existence of a partition and side entrance that separated men and women at their Islamic Center, that effectively isolated half the audience from actively listening or participating in the discussion.
However in this interaction, Sheikh Abdullah, having known Kamala for quite some time, realizes the best possible advice he can give her is to be the best person that she can be. Underlying this conversation is a trust that Sheikh Abdullah has for Kamala, that whatever she’s doing is for bettering the world and acting for the benefit of others. He chooses to tell her to maintain her core values in whatever she’s pursuing instead of telling her to abandon these activities, despite the fact that it might be going against the wishes of her parents. By suggesting she find a teacher to guide her in her activities, he maintains the relationship they have and ends the conversation in a way that Kamala is likely to return to him for advice in the future.
From Ms. Marvel #6, by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, & Ian Herring.
I loved this whole interaction. In so many stories, especially stories about teens with powers, wacky hijinks are forced to ensue with the teens not telling the adults the truth of what’s going on, and the adults getting in the way and not understanding.
And I get that, I mean Adults Do Not Get What Kids Today Go Through is not so much symbolism as it is text. However it’s also been done a billion times. With good reason, yes, but done.
There is also the flip side - the adult who is the Wise Mentor who is already in the know, and can dispense sage advice until such time as the plot requires them to die. Again, not bad in and of itself, but done.
Throw in the aspect of the adult being a religious figure and the odds of them being either Wise Elder or Plot Required Obstacle are even higher. And even more done.
But instead, what was done with Kamala and Sheikh Abdullah was show that there can be another way. Kamala doesn’t give away her secret identity, but she tries telling as much of the truth as she can. It’s not an either/or of lies vs full confession.
In turn, Sheikh Abdullah shows respect for what Kamala tells him and replies to her in kind. He can’t give full advice without knowing the entire situation, but he gives what advice he can given the information he has. He trusts that she’s telling the truth about helping people, and gives her guidance to help her find her way as she figures things out for herself.
It’s a wonderful bit of personal, human interaction and it’s not an emotional beat you often get in stories like these.
In a way it reminds me of one of the (many) things I liked about Captain Marvel’s first run, in that it showed friendships between generations.