Taqwacore – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

New York Times: defines “Taqwacore”:

Taqwacore – Schott’s Vocab Blog –

Islamic punk – a portmanteau of “taqwa” (Arabic for “piety”) and “core” (as in “hardcore” punk).

Writing in Time, Carla Power reported on a new documentary that showcases the bands at the forefront of North America’s Islamic punk scene:

These young punks are taking on every establishment going: Muslim, American and Muslim American. “In this so-called war of civilizations, we’re giving the finger to both sides,” says the godfather of the Muslim punk movement, Michael Muhammad Knight, in Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a new documentary by Pakistani-Canadian director Omar Majeed. As a mashup of piety and politics, hard-core music and anarchy, the Muslim punk movement makes the Sex Pistols look like Fleetwood Mac.

According to Power, Knight coined taqwacore in his 2002 novel, “The Taqwacores”:

He then received an e-mail from a 16-year-old Texan Muslim, Kourosh Poursalehi, who was in a band called Vote Hezbollah, asking how he could get in touch with the mohawked Sufis, skater punks, burqa-wearing riot grrrls and skinhead Shi’ites in the book. When Knight told him it was fiction, Poursalehi responded, “Well, then I’ll make it real.”

The taqwacore scene has since spawned a variety of bands (including The Kominas and Secret Trial Five), as well as two films: Majeed’s documentary and an upcoming feature.

Not surprisingly, Knight has come in for a good deal of criticism since writing his novel. As Lydia Crafts reported for NPR in July 2009:

The man who helped start all of this — Michael Muhammad Knight — has himself been singled out by Muslims and non-Muslims for his views on Islam.

“I’ve gotten that from all kinds of people,” Knight says. “I’ve gotten that from neo-conservative people on their blogs who say, ‘Oh this is awesome, this guy’s challenging Islam. This guy’s hating Islam — he’s trying to tear down all that.’ And I’m not trying to tear down Islam. I’m trying to make Islam possible in my life.”

[Some sources translate taqwa as “higher consciousness” or “God consciousness.”)