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April 28, 2007 9:26 AM   Subscribe

"I felt Islam was so black and white and there were no grey areas. These Muslim kids, who are punks, they are in these grey areas." ~ Michael Muhammed Knight.
Behold Taqwacore: a new movement of Islam-influenced punk rock which has its origins in the pages of a controversial novel.
posted by moonbird (32 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
To be fair, most of the "punks" here are Pakistani. The brand of Islam that has been practiced there in the past thirty years is Maududi, a kissing cousin of Wahhabism. If these kids were ever exposed to something like Sufism (which permits music and singing, and anyone who attends the gatherings gets alot more benefit and release than rocking out like a punk) they wouldn't have to look at the world in terms of secular west vs. Islamic east as this is a false dichotomy of recent innovation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:04 AM on April 28, 2007


Punkistani?
posted by jouke at 10:14 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


fair or not,
[this is good]
posted by Busithoth at 10:23 AM on April 28, 2007


Man, they're just as cool as Christian punks!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, moonbird. I'm a huge fan of Knight's writing. I loved The Taqwacores and I just finished Blue-Eyed Devil. He apparently has a new book on the 5 Percenters coming out very soon.
One more taqwacore band to add to your list: Vote Hezbollah.
posted by NoMich at 10:40 AM on April 28, 2007


The kominas sound pretty good.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2007


How can someone identify with a faith in a deity, and all the arbitrary nonsense that goes with it, and still identify with rebellious music? I mean, if you're going to live your life on your knees, don't pretend like you're fighting anything.
posted by cmonkey at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2007


cmonkey: that's rather glib and unqualified. Look at someone like this.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2007


So this Imam Shamil fought Russians? That's nice. He still got down on his knees regularly and prayed to an authority figure. Which is all fine and well, but it isn't rebellious at all.
posted by cmonkey at 11:44 AM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nice attempt at a troll cmonkey. Next time, try to articulate an actual point instead of perfectly articulating your ignorance.
posted by isopraxis at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2007


That doesn't make much sense. Since when is punk about rejecting the source of existence?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2007


Oh, I'm not trolling. I just don't understand how people can be "punk", a fashion, ideology, and lifestyle that involves rebelling against what other people and groups believe you should be doing, and still follow a religion that tells them how they should behave. It's like being in detention after school and scribbling MR JONES IS SUCH A JERK on the desk.

Since when is punk about rejecting the source of existence?

I've never met a punk who rejects atomic theory and basic principles of cosmology, but I guess some of them might.
posted by cmonkey at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2007


Don't you remember when Husker Du were krishnacore?
posted by breezeway at 12:12 PM on April 28, 2007


What I want to know is: does Michael Muhammad Knight have a cool, futuristic talking car?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:21 PM on April 28, 2007


This post wouldn't be complete without the wrestling match between Michael Muhammad Knight and CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper.
posted by laz-e-boy at 1:01 PM on April 28, 2007


I just wanted to say that "Electronic Intifada" is a great for a punk rock band, regardless of any sort of Islamic connection.
posted by armage at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was about to say - there were an awful lot of hardcore and punk bands that wore the straitjackets of Hare Krishna, National Socialism, Skinhead/Labor, Straightedge, Communist Anarchy, and the like. It's not so out of sorts for a punk band to have a religious or political devotion.

In this particular case, though, it seems that these guys are rebelling as much against neo-fundamentalist Islam as anything else. Good on them.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:26 PM on April 28, 2007


that taqwacore book sounds fantastic from the excerpts.
posted by empath at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2007


What I want to know is: does Michael Muhammad Knight have a cool, futuristic talking car?

You know, there are so many ways to go from this, but I think all of them would be censored in Denmark. I think it's time to bring back the show, freshen it, make it relevant: Michael Muhammad Fucking Knight.

Allahu Akbar, Michael!
posted by geos at 1:40 PM on April 28, 2007


Yeah, I was about to say - there were an awful lot of hardcore and punk bands that wore the straitjackets of Hare Krishna, National Socialism, Skinhead/Labor, Straightedge, Communist Anarchy, and the like. It's not so out of sorts for a punk band to have a religious or political devotion.

This is something that very much interests me lately- the equating of all beliefs and reference to any viewpoint as "like religion". Suggesting that political stances are the same as religion doesn't just paint an inaccurate picture of political beliefs, it makes political discussion essentially the same as religious discussion- in which all principles must be the result of faith and any change is viewpoint or stance isn't just changing one's mind but is a conversion. The idea that all beliefs are essentially religious beliefs is Not Good for humanity.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


change in viewpoint, dammit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:43 PM on April 28, 2007


this is genius. There is significant conceptual overlap between Islam and anarchism, and imagining an Islam that embraces the acephalic ideal and rejects sexism is a very interesting idea indeed.
posted by mwhybark at 3:21 PM on April 28, 2007


Pope Guilty, I think that's an excellent point. In practice, however, Utopian political ideologies rely on the same irrefutable articles of faith, terms of art, shibboleths, slogans, infallible and unchanging texts and doctrines, veneration of famous dead thinkers, and panacea promises of a World to Come, as major religions do. I've not yet met a self-professed Communist Anarchist, or Neo-conservative, whose methodologies were less like a Hare Krishna than like a scientist.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:25 PM on April 28, 2007


Oh, and I have a pal who emigrated from Pakistan in the 1990s and took to West-Coast punkitivism like a fish to water.

[insert crazed tkchrist-style anecdote here involving late nights, women on stilts, abandonded buildiings, and human skulls.]

The only aspect of his Pakistani cultural heritage that didn't translate was a distinct homophobia which couldn't have been that bad, since he chose to live in Seattle's gay neighborhood. I still see him now and again with his wife and kid.
posted by mwhybark at 3:26 PM on April 28, 2007


Good call, Pope Guilty.


And wow, this looks totally awesome. Brilliant, even. Punk rock culture has this amazing way of fighting with things, fists flying, until it strips away everything that could possibly be there only by convention and (hopefully) only leaves the important stuff behind. (Or, you know, a life destroyed with drugs, poverty, and ennui, but hey). As such, it seems like a "growing experience" for this or that movement to have some cadre of punks struggling with it.
posted by gignomai at 3:31 PM on April 28, 2007


Great post! And in answer to the seemingly inherent paradox of "Islamic punk," most of the folks intimately involved in the Taqwacore scene are anything but fundamentalist Muslims. I'd also strongly recommend the writings of Basim Usmani, who beat Jouke to the punch with the "punkistani" pun and fronted an equally paradoxical gothic funk band called Malice in Leatherland before founding The Kominas.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:15 PM on April 28, 2007


Burhanistan: "To be fair, most of the "punks" here are Pakistani. The brand of Islam that has been practiced there in the past thirty years is Maududi, a kissing cousin of Wahhabism. If these kids were ever exposed to something like Sufism (which permits music and singing, and anyone who attends the gatherings gets alot more benefit and release than rocking out like a punk) they wouldn't have to look at the world in terms of secular west vs. Islamic east as this is a false dichotomy of recent innovation."

You're right, I bet Oum Kalthoum can say something about it. I was raised in Morocco and we don't know that kind of islam that don't let you take a breath.

Music was and always be part of Islam.
posted by zouhair at 7:33 PM on April 28, 2007


Some moroccan dhikr in the UK
posted by zouhair at 7:35 PM on April 28, 2007


How can someone identify with a faith in a deity, and all the arbitrary nonsense that goes with it, and still identify with rebellious music? I mean, if you're going to live your life on your knees, don't pretend like you're fighting anything.

Oh cmonkey (and Pope Guilty), you're just forgetting that _punk rock_ is completely different from "punk rock," which just gave everyone something to buy.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:16 AM on April 29, 2007


kinda reminds me of another book, but instead of punk rock, it's for kids who like comic books and SF (so there's no way of turning it into a 'movement' :)

There is significant conceptual overlap between Islam and anarchism, and imagining an Islam that embraces the acephalic ideal and rejects sexism is a very interesting idea indeed.

it seems hakim bey and jello biafra made the connection! but then so did bill & ted...

[had to look up "acephalic" (without a head); might i also coin "aphallic?" (also without a head!)]

btw "Dell business model ‘not a religion’ " ;P
posted by kliuless at 5:19 AM on April 29, 2007


Pope Guilty's first post wins!

I know the similarity kid ichorous is talking about. Yes modern utopian philosophies are dangerous too. However, Religion is still infinitely more dangerous since it's much more resistant to reality.

How easy is it to bend viewpoint of some given idealist by exposing difficulties? Two words: abortion debate.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:21 AM on April 30, 2007


Dude, we're talking about Muslim punks, not abortion. Most muslims don't give a crap about abortion.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:27 AM on April 30, 2007


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