Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Tacqwacores

I love the way people make their own lives out the materials available to them. Despite the complaint that in our world everything is prepackaged by corporate media giants, people express themselves by picking and choosing their interests and combining them in novel ways. A few years ago there was a little culture of people who expressed their disdain for the moderate mainstream by being into opera and punk rock. Now, as Christopher Maag reports for the NY Times, there is a developing sub-culture of punk rock among American Muslims, who mix themes of teenage rebellion, alienation, anti-capitalism, jihad, and the search for a religion that makes sense to them. It started with an unpublished book, The Tacqwacores, by Michael Muhammad Knight:

He said he wrote “The Taqwacores” to mend the rift between his being an observant Muslim and an angry American youth. He found validation in the life of Muhammad, who instructed people to ignore their leaders, destroy their petty deities and follow only Allah.

After reading the novel, many Muslims e-mailed Mr. Muhammad Knight, asking for directions to the next Muslim punk show. Told that no such bands existed, some of them created their own, with names like Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five.

One band, the Kominas, wrote a song called “Suicide Bomb the Gap,” which became Muslim punk rock’s first anthem.

“As Muslims, we’re not being honest if we criticize the United States without first criticizing ourselves,” said Mr. Kamel, 23, who grew up in a Syrian family in Chicago. He is lead singer of the band al-Thawra, “the Revolution” in Arabic.

For many young American Muslims, the merger of Islam and rebellion resonated.

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