Jacob's Reviews > The Taqwacores

The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight
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May 09, 12

bookshelves: 2012, fiction-and-literature, i-own
Read from March 23 to 28, 2012

March 2012

"A Muslim punk house in Buffalo, New York, inhabited by burqa-wearing riot grrrls, mohawked Sufis, straightedge Sunnis, Shi'a skinheads, Indonesian skaters, Sudanese rude boys, gay Muslims, drunk Muslims, and feminists. Their living room hosts parties and prayers, with a hole smashed in the wall to indicate the direction of Mecca. Their life together mixes sex, dope, and religion in roughly equal amounts, expressed in devotion to an Islamo-punk subculture, 'taqwacore,' named for taqwa, an Arabic term for consciousness of the divine."
Godless country bumpkin from Wisconsin reads about Muslim punks in New York. Goodreads really doesn't get any better than this.

If you were expecting more than that, sorry, I don't have the words. I know very little about Islam and even less about punk culture, so anything I have to say will either be hopelessly ignorant, incredibly stupid, possibly offensive, or a combination of the three. Check out Imogen Binnie's review instead. Then read this book. Because honestly, after reading that cover summary above, how could you not?
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Reading Progress

03/23/2012 page 16
6.0% "Saw this on someone's shelves somewhere (the Goodreads method of finding good books), thought it looked interesting, reading it. Quite a lot of Arabic to deal with. If only I had a dictionary handy. Oh, hello Internet!"
03/23/2012 page 46
18.0% "I am waaayyyy too not-punk for this."
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Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

My good pal and brilliant author Goodloe Byron did the cover for this.


Jacob It's a pretty awesome cover. And that name looks familiar. Probably because *checking* yep, I've seen some of his books around this site. Haven't read any yet.


Jacob I haven't heard of Soft Skull before. Wikipedia says they were sold to Counterpoint Press, whose website is undergoing changes, so I can't look up more of their stuff...


message 4: by JK (new)

JK That is a catching cover.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Jacob wrote: "I haven't heard of Soft Skull before. Wikipedia says they were sold to Counterpoint Press, whose website is undergoing changes, so I can't look up more of their stuff..."

Softskull used to (and still does) kick arse! Never published me (the cunts) but they were (are) where it's at. I think they got absorbed by a subsidiary of an even bigger magnate thing. sigh. Dzanc will be next, is the rumor.


Jacob JK wrote: "That is a catching cover."

Yeah, that's what caught my eye. Cover, title, summary. "A Muslim punk house in Buffalo, New York, inhabited by burqa-wearing riot girls, mohawked Sufis, straightedge Sunnis, Shi’a skinheads, Indonesian skaters, Sudanese rude boys, gay Muslims, drunk Muslims, and feminists." Say no more! This godless country bumpkin from Wisconsin is intrigued!


Jacob KUBOA/Pocketful of Scoundrel wrote: "I think they got absorbed by a subsidiary of an even bigger magnate thing. sigh. Dzanc will be next, is the rumor."

Argh! Too many awesome small publishers, not enough time!


message 8: by JK (new)

JK The summary was pretty interesting to when I checked it out... almost interesting enough to want to read it. I just don't want to read about a bunch of punks though. Maybe if it gets the Jacob Seal of Approval I'll think about throwing it into my never ending TBR list.


... you didn't know you had a Seal of Approval, did you? It's a limited time offer, for this book only.


message 9: by Ali (last edited Mar 28, 2012 09:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali This is the best ever. My experience with Muslims is all depressing, opressive, women-beatin', gay-hatin', child-punchin', show a centimetre of ankle flesh and be grounded for sixteen years, at least if yer one of them womens, and it's nice to see other facets of the Muslim experience. Intellectually, I know stuff like that exists, but on a purely emotional level, to me, because I grew up in an environment where that sort of shit would get you disowned instantly, it would be equivalent to waking up one morning and finding my cat drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. It just doesn't make sense.


message 10: by Jacob (last edited Mar 28, 2012 09:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacob It really is the best ever, I think. Mostly because I never imagined that "Muslim punk culture" was an actual thing...although my experience with Muslims here in rural Wisconsin so far has been nil.

The funny thing is, apparently Muslim punk culture didn't exist before this book, but the author thought it was a cool idea, and his depiction of a subculture-that-didn't-exist actually gave birth to Taqwacore. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.

Also, just to warn you, there is a LOT of Arabic sprinkled throughout the book. I hope your e-reader doesn't have any trouble with it.


Jacob And--while I know almost nothing about Islam, I know even less about being punk. So I was doubly out of place while reading this book, and it was still awesome.


message 12: by Ali (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali My copy was scanned by volunteers, as opposed to being submitted directly from a publisher, so they probably put the transliterated forms of the Arabic words, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Apparently Knight appeals to a lot of young Muslims, especially those living in America or exposed to American culture, because they are breaking away from all that conservative Orthodox Islam, and they want to reconcile their faith with their lifestyles, and they want someone to tell them that it's okay to be Muslim and gay or punk, that you don't have to conform to a very specific sect of Islam that is, frankly, rapidly going out of style in most civilised places inhabited by thinking people, to be a true Muslim.


Jacob JK wrote: "Maybe if it gets the Jacob Seal of Approval I'll think about throwing it into my never ending TBR list. "

Oops, didn't see your comment there, JK. But it does get the Jacob Seal of Approval.


Jacob Ali wrote: "Apparently Knight appeals to a lot of young Muslims, especially those living in America or exposed to American culture, because they are breaking away from all that conservative Orthodox Islam..."

Yeah, that's addressed a lot in the book, and Knight talks about it better than I can, and with more authority. As an atheist who used to be a lukewarm Methodist, I can't even speak about Christianity with any authority, but I'm aware that the whole reconciling-faith-with-lifestyle issue is going on in that corner as well, to certain degrees.

But one issue Knight brings up is that the United States is never going to change to fully accommodate Islam (as in, Sharia law isn't going to happen, no matter what the Tea Party says), so Islam, American Islam at least, is going to have to adapt to live in the US, just like it's adapted to every other nation and culture where Islam has taken hold, and that will involve people questioning what Islam means to them and how it fits their lifestyles, et cetera, and I can't seem to find the right passage.

But it makes sense to me. I've never worried at all about Teh Ebul Mooslims taking over. It's them scary Christians I'm worried about.


message 15: by Ali (last edited Mar 29, 2012 08:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ali I agree. Of the three major religious groups I've dealt with throughout my lifetime, I put Muslim's squarely in the middle in terms of tollerability and dickbaggery, if only because, sure, a lot of them are assholes, but a lot of them aren't, and they've adapted their faith to the culture in which they live, and even the assholes don't force their religions on everyone the same way Christians do. I'm thinking of one in particular who is about as liberal as they come, maybe even as liberal as me, which is quite a feat. Jews are by far the best, and the most open to critical thinking and tollerence, and Christians are the worst. I've met many Christians who are great people, and they cause me to think optimistically about the state of religion. Then I hear about the latest antics from Fred Phelps, or remember that bill the House of Representatives tried to pass a while back, HR358, I think it was, which would have given doctors the ability to let pregnant women die under emergency circumstances rather than give them a life saving abortion if the doctors had religious concerns about abortions, or look up the #TCOT hash tag on Twitter, which stands for "top conservatives on Twitter", and I go back to my usual pessimism. What I'm saying is that I've never seen any American Muslims try to pass a law like that, or even rally around those who would the way Christians and Catholics do. It could be validly argued that people like Fred Phelps, and the people who try to pass horrible bills like HR358 because of religion aren't real Christians, but I'm sure Phelps would be happy to tell us that you aren't a real Christian unless you're persecuting homosexuals all the time, and the Bible does give the death sentence for, among a startling number of other petty, trivial things, being gay, at least if you believe all the badly translated English versions, so he may have a point. And though some Christians say the Old Testament and its laws were invalidated by the arival of Jesus, those same Christians are also perfectly happy to nitpick the parts they like and think could pass, and try to restrict the lives of others based on laws in the supposedly invalid Old Testament. Who's right? Who isn't? Who knows? ... The fact that we don't have an original copy of the Bible (we don't even have copies of the copies of the copies of the original Bible) fucks with things even more, so for all we know, the original is a lot more peaceful about this sort of thing, and it's just been corrupted by people and their personal prejudices over time during the rewritings. As I recall, one historian said, in reference to the number of manuscripts of the new Testament gathered over time, that there are more variations among the manuscripts, many of which directly contradict each other, than there are words in the entire new Testament, which runs to just over 200,000 words.


Jacob I'm trying to form a response to that, but I think you said it all. The only thing I can think to add is, that's what we get for having (mostly) Christians in public office. If the people in local, state, or federal government were primarily Jews or Muslims instead of Christians, we'd probably be suffering from whatever dickish legislation they came up with. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon.


message 17: by Tuck (new)

Tuck Jacob wrote: "It really is the best ever, I think. Mostly because I never imagined that "Muslim punk culture" was an actual thing...although my experience with Muslims here in rural Wisconsin so far has been ni..."
there is punk out there, check out

De Niro's Game
Londonstani


Jacob Tuck wrote: "there is punk out there, check out

De Niro's Game
Londonstani "


Hey, thanks! I did look around for books similar to this one, but I didn't look very hard. Appreciate the recs.


message 19: by Alan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alan sounds like one for me


message 20: by Alan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alan am reading and enjoying, after having to check every other word in the glossary. Btw in the UK we have a different cover:
taqwacores


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