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Saturday, November 26th, 2011

‘THE TAQWACORES’ & ‘TAQWACORE:THE BIRTH OF PUNK ISLAM’

The intro to my Blog says when it comes to movies my
preference is ‘the weirder the better’ and I guess this movie definitely
falls into that category.  It’s title is
an amalgamation of ‘taqwa’ an Islamic word denoting love & fear for Allah,
and ‘core’ for hardcore as in punk music i.e. its about Islamic Punk Rock. Who
even knew there was such a thing?
It all started with
Michael (Mohammed) Knight
a nice American Celtic lad whose life with a
racial separatist father and an abused mother led him to seek enlightenment in
a mosque in Pakistan. On his return to the US he wrote ‘The Taqwacores’ a novel about a fictious group of punk rock
musicians that gained a following among young North American Muslims who felt
stifled by their religion and their heritage. The book spurred more of them to
start their own bands, which in led to Omar
Majeed’s
documentary ‘Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam’.  Majeed filmed Knight accompanying several of these
bands on a bus touring and playing in diverse venues around the US.  Eventually they all ended up in Pakistan
looking to spread the punk message to some very baffled and disconcerted locals
who simply didn’t get it!
And then came the feature film based on Mr. Knight’s
book and directed by first time filmmaker Eyad
Zahra.
  It’s the story of Yusef, a
first generation Pakistani student with overly-keen well-meaning parents, who
discovers the house he is going to room in, is full of Muslim punks.  It’s a rather squalid house with its assorted
group of residents who have some decidedly untraditional ideas about their
faith.  There are prayers during the day
and wild parties at night.
As a way of explanation, one of them tells Yusef that ‘Allah is too big and too open for my Islam
to be small and closed’
. And slowly straight-laced Yusef gets the message
and starts to unwind, and by the time there is one enormous party in the house,
which numerous local Taqwacores are invited to play and stay over, his world
finally explodes.
The Documentary was a great scene setter and gave more
relevance to some of the issues that the Feature Film touched on.  I guess it also opened my eyes to this whole
burgeoning culture that I was totally unaware off, and more importantly it
educated me about the ignorance and reluctance that it encountered within not
just the Islamic community but in a very bigoted society as a whole.
It is no means a perfect film and it was a little too
crude at times, and although occasionally a tad heavy handed with its message, it
was also had some sensitive takes on how these young westernized Moslems deal with issues that are particularly ‘touchy’ for their faith, such as pre-marital sex, homosexuality and the place of women.
I found it thoroughly enlightening, and enormously entertaining
even though I will fess up I am no big punk rock fan, Moslem or otherwise.
The Feature Film is available on DVD, the Novel is also still available, but I thought the Documentary would be tough to track down but evidently its available at Walmart ! Who would have guessed, but they obviously have not watched it themselves !
★★★★★★

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Posted by queerguru  at  15:53

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