by wjw on December 24, 2008

Two words: punk Muslims.

Five years ago, young Muslims across the United States began reading and passing along a blurry, photocopied novel called “The Taqwacores,” about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo . . .

The novel is “The Catcher in the Rye” for young Muslims, said Carl W. Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Springing from the imagination of Michael Muhammad Knight, it inspired disaffected young Muslims in the United States to form real Muslim punk bands and build their own subculture . . .

“I’m a Muslim and I’m 100-percent American,” Ms. DeWulf said, “so I can criticize my faith and my country. Rebellion? Punk? This is totally American.”

. . . Ms. Zufari said she had listened to punk music growing up in Arkansas and found “The Taqwacores” four years ago.

“Here was someone as frustrated with Islam as me,” she said, “and he expressed it using bands I love, like the Dead Kennedys. It all came together.”

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 . . .

After reading the novel, many Muslims e-mailed Mr. Muhammad Knight, asking for directions to the next Muslim punk show. Told that no such bands existed, some of them created their own, with names like Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five . . .

Can I just say that I find this totally hopeful? All-American Muslim kids rockin’ out and doing stuff that would get them killed back in the Old Country?

And of course the bands all have MySpace pages, with lots of free samples!

The Kominas

Secret Trial Five

Vote Hezbollah

mazianni December 25, 2008 at 4:00 pm

About a month ago I went to see the proto-goth band Sisters of Mercy. The opening band was an outstanding indie-rock band from Iran.


Richard Nash (Soft Skull) January 7, 2009 at 5:56 am

Hey Walter, I’m the publisher of The Taqwacores, would you like a copy?

dubjay January 7, 2009 at 6:46 am

Dude. Absolutely.

I’ll email you offlist.

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