“Meet the Taqwacores” on MSNBC

A couple of weeks ago, Inside Islam aired a radio show on “The Taqwacores” and we posted a series of blog entries on the punk movement in the US. You can listen to the broadcast and browse all of the posts about Taqwacores on Inside Islam by clicking here.

The following video from NBC Nightly News features our guests from that radio show — author of The Taqwacores Michael Muhammad Knight and drummer for the Kominas Imran Malik. The video highlights other individuals and bands who are also struggling to articulate this new Muslim punk genre of music and what it means to a mainstream audience.

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Michael Muhammad Knight’s “The Taqwacores”

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The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight

Identity and belonging are funny things. They never mean the same thing to everyone. Growing up as a Muslim American, I was exposed to a myriad of experiences, but I definitely cannot say I was exposed to every kind of Muslim or every interpretation of Islam. We are talking about over 1.3 billion people! What I have learned is that there are Muslims everywhere who have grown up claiming more than one identity marker and they are finding numerous ways to think about their faith, question, negotiate, and locate a space within it that they feel as their own.

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The Taqwacores Movement

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A Kominas Poster at SWSC by graphic designer Toufic El Rassi

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about punk Islam in response to the LA Times’Islam, the Koran, and Lots of Questions.” Michael Muhammad Knight’s book about Muslim youth and the American punk music scene, The Taqwacores, as well as a band called The Kominas were mentioned in the last post. Today, I return to these subjects because The Taqwacores will also be the focus of the next Inside Islam radio show, airing this Thursday.

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The Taqwacores and Punk Islam

The Taqwacores, a novel about the Muslim punk scene.

The Taqwacores, a novel about the Muslim punk scene.

A group of Muslim-American youth play punk music and live together in The Taqwacores, by Michael Muhammad Knight. The book has inspired Muslim youth to rethink their faith in terms of their individual experiences, much as the author himself did. According to Guardian UK reporter Brian Whitaker in “Punk Muslims,”  Knight wrote The Taqwacores at the age of 19, after converting to Islam and studying in Pakistan for a year. When he returned to America, he started writing in a local mosque and even stayed through the night so he could be there alone. When the novel was complete, he made xerox copies and sold them out of the trunk of a car. The book caught on and created a community and popular following in the US.

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