Taqwacores: A Punk Subculture Inspired By A Book
In 2003 filmmaker and activist James Spooner’s film “Afro-Punk” was released and challenged society’s perception of black identity and the traditionally white punk scene. Also in 2003, Michael Muhammad Knight self published “The Taqwacores“, a book created to mend the rift between his being an observant Muslim and an angry American youth.
Like “Afro-Punk”, Knight’s book continues to inspire young people who are searching for ways to validate their own experiences and defy social norms and the New York Times reports that there will be an independent film version of the book released next year.
Behind The Book
Knight was born an Irish Catholic in upstate New York and converted to Islam as a teenager. He studied at a mosque in Pakistan but became disillusioned with Islam after learning about the sectarian battles after the death of Muhammad.
Five years ago he wrote “The Taqwacores”, inspired by the like of Muhammad, who instructed people to ignore their leaders, destroy their petty deities and follow only Allah.
At first it was handed around in xeroxed versions like a Soviet era Samizdat. Then young Muslims began contacting Michael asking where they could see Muslim punk bands. He told them he just made it up and he didn’t know of any such bands. He told them he just made it up and he didn’t know of any such bands.
The novel’s Muslim characters include Rabeya, a riot girl who plays guitar onstage wearing a burqa and leads a group of men and women in prayer. There is also Fasiq, a pot-smoking skater, and Jehangir, a drunk. Such acts — playing Western music, women leading prayer, men and women praying together, drinking, smoking — are considered haram, or forbidden, by millions of Muslims. (more…)