Welcome, and peace be with you! You are in the right place. Thank you for exploring our Tales of Khayaal project - an ongoing creative journey into spiritual imagination. I invite you to join us on this path of discovery and take a moment to read about our intention, process, and approach. With all praise to the One.
It was in a reverie that Tales of Khayaal first began – a profound musing on the vast capacities of the power and gift of imagination as a gateway to our spiritual growth. This compulsion to explore and capture the potential of imagination became a pillar in constructing the vast and fantastical universe of Tales of Khayaal. We asked many questions about the nature of imagination, or ‘khayaal’, and sought out both creative and theological answers – a bold balance between creating what resembles truths about our reality, but also what resembles everything we love about fantasy.
These questions drove our writers and artists to develop the rules, characters, and lore of the world, but it also steered the team to seek the excellent guidance of experts like Dr Samir Mahmoud and Dr Harith Ramle, as we were resolved on creating a world of diverse representations, where all audiences could globally connect with the universe, Muslims and others alike.
Developing Tales of Khayaal into the immense sci-fi fantasy world that it has become is an ongoing expedition and a great challenge as we tread carefully to avoid contention while continually adhering to theological axioms and spiritual truths. In Dr Samir's words, Khayaal is described as “the capacity of the heart to give forms to spiritual realities that don’t have any form, and to spiritualise material realities that do have form”. The concept of Khayaal had deep roots that we wanted to maneuver gracefully.
To that end, we created ‘Kha’, a homage to ‘Khayaal’, and a realm of spiritual imagination that allows our characters to unlock internal powers which activate in an overlapping reality. These abilities adhere to a hierarchical structure, deepening in their manifestation as the characters journey on to become their true selves. Different personalities manifest their powers in different categories of abilities, unlocking their individual potential to master themselves and bring balance to the world around them.
Our initial thinking was to develop a unique creative world with universal themes and timeless values inspired by Islam that resonate with all audiences. The broader language expressing these implicit spiritual themes does not exclude different faiths, but still allows Muslim audiences to identify them. The intention is for the subtlety to keep the stories more intellectually engaging, while inviting all audiences to explore these concepts at their own pace.
These themes are embedded within the individual and collective journeys that shape our story, and are intentionally more mature and sophisticated than children’s media: stories that teenagers and young adults could see themselves in, be inspired by, and invite them to think about faith and spirituality from different perspectives in our increasingly digital future. The stories are meant to project the futures of today’s intersection of technology and spirituality in order to question our interactions with the devices around us. In an age where distraction is at our fingertips, seldom are we left to our own imaginations, and often forget its power.
That is not to vilify technology, but to address some of the known pitfalls of too much reliance on it, and to invite people to consider how they use it in their lives and if there is room for improvement in their relationship with it. With the theme of distraction leaning into the frames of our modern times, we reflected on the overwhelming amount of digital content that we’re faced with today. People and Muslims around the world consume so much media, entertainment, and content, yet, very little of it really encourages us to think directly about spirituality – let alone Islamic concepts.
We also did not want to vilify our antagonists, and avoided having villains set out to destroy the world. Instead, we were focused on more nuanced, understandable antagonists with goals and philosophies stemming from familiar sentiments that do not align with those of the heroes. While the antagonists can be extreme and act villainously, they are not diabolical, ultimately creating characters that are much more real and relatable.
The stories are set in an alternate future, one close enough to have familiar elements to us, but far enough for potentially seismic socio-economic changes to have taken place. We extrapolated some of the current developments, issues, and conversations of today, and built a world that is intended to feel futuristic and believable simultaneously.
To share a little of the lore in this alternate future, our characters navigate three different realities in Tales of Khayaal. The Material World is the physical, natural world where there are many factions with intertwined interests, some yearning for tradition, while others yearning for progress. An unexpected calamity drove governments to dissolve, shifting influence to three mega-corporations that disputedly became the backbone of society. Through advanced technology and global infrastructure, this Trifecta provides a world free from famine, disease, poverty, and war. Yet, the Trifecta’s fixation on optimisation made the world hyperconnected and hyperactive; people tend to engage in their conveniences and distractions.
These distractions come mainly from the Metaverse, a noisy and chaotic virtual world where people can create their own avatars, spaces, and content for social and even professional gatherings. This reality has its own Cyber Police that enforces strict laws around asset theft and ruining another’s experience. In this reality, many have forgotten how to look within and discover their own spiritual paths
Yet, there are those who have the mindfulness to find peace, and enter Kha, a realm manifested from their own spiritual imagination. Kha is a personal, surreal realm that is unique to every individual, manifesting based on their passions and aspirations, as well as their fears and flaws. While everyone has their own Kha, it takes Himmah to enter it. Only those with a deep inner perception can become aware and enter their Kha. By harnessing the power of their Kha, our heroes develop different abilities that help them overcome their personal challenges and conquer the shadows that manifest in that realm.
In Kha, one would be in their Regent form connected to a divine creative energy called Source that powers their abilities. Source is gifted by the Original Source, and resonates with a person’s Himmah and intentions. If the intentions are chaotic, Source can be corrupted and become visible in their Untruths, allowing for the development of creatures such as Waswas that strain a person’s connection to Source.
The vision for Tales of Khayaal became increasingly clear the more we delved into the project. We began sharing our stories through comics, and have many tales yet to tell, but we have also been exploring other avenues. We developed several basic game prototypes, but as a next step, shifted our efforts to more currently accessible ambitions. We want to share our wondrous stories with you, so we are focusing on the comics and the potential for developing novels and animated series.
We would also love to see people taking inspiration from the comics by imagining the future and the kinds of technologies that may appear, as well as thinking about the role of faith and spirituality within those scenarios. These conversations are vitally important – even more so with the rate of technological development – and we truly believe that Muslims around the world should be at the forefront of these discussions, debates, and explorations.
Tales of Khayaal is an original, in-house project being developed by Gould Studio. We have worked with many globally recognised brands and developed successful products in the past two decades, including games and toys that have been sold in 30+ countries.
Through the hard work, creativity, and passion of our team of illustrators, writers, and designers, we believe we have created something special in Tales of Khayaal and we hope to share that with you.
Creative Director: Peter Gould
Lead Writer and Project Manager: Nicolas Sayegh
Lead Illustrator and Designer: Asya Leztizia
Social Media and Content Manager: Zahina Maghrabi
Web and Game Development Lead: Gilang Guitarana
Additional Creative Support: Nick Farncomb, Neil King, Kais Al Kaissi, Diana Ghazal, Amin Dada, Fadilah Arief, Amanda Siswojo, Eka Hardiningtyas, Bowow Nomura, Rio Purba, Prima Bardin, and Dinda Gayathri