Title: The Taqwacores
Author: Michael Muhammad Knight
Publication Year: 2004
Source: Purchased from a bookstore in Beirut
From the cover:
Yusef is living in Buffalo, New York with a group of Muslim punks. A pot-smoking mohawked Sufi called Jehangir plays the rooftop call to prayer on his electric guitar, while debates rage downstairs about the Quranic sources for Iggy Pop songs.
With a living-room serving as a mosque by day and hosting punk parties by night, and a hole in the wall marking the direction of Mecca, Yusef’s friends are all dealing with what it means to be young and Muslim in modern-day America.
Amidst all this, Yusef embarks on a fascinating, clumsy journey towards faith and love in this surprising and unsettling read.
I can definitely tell that this book was written to shock people. The copy that I picked up in Beirut actually turns out to be a bit censored, and when I looked up what had been taken out online, it was often (but not always) something completely gratuitous and offensive.
Having said that, the offensive nature of so much that goes on in this book is what makes The Taqwacores so interesting of a cultural narrative. Knight does a great job of showing the reader a very specific possible subculture within the umbrella of Islam, one that I would hazard a guess would not be all that popular of a topic to most mainstream readers. It verges on blasphemy more times than I can count, and when I was reading it, my partner would often look over at me and shake his head without even knowing what I had just read, but could tell that it was inciteful just from the look on my face.
If you’re interesting in reading something edgy that touches on a kind of Islam and a type of Muslim that isn’t at all mainstream, The Taqwacores might be the book for you. But if you’re easily offended, then steer clear, because it definitely isn’t written with the faint-of-heart in mind.
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.