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Muhammad Knight’s The Taqwacores
Michael Muhammad Knight’s The Taqwacores Arrives In Canada!
This Is Not A Reading Series celebrates Freedom To Read Week with the Canadian premiere of Michael Muhammad Knight’s controversial novel about the Muslim-punk movement, The Taqwacores (Soft Skull Press).
Montreal filmmaker Omar Majeed is currently working on Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, a feature documentary about the real-life bands who were inspired by Knight’s fictional creation. Majeed and Knight will show footage and discuss the politics of the Muslim-punk scene. Knight will then have an extended Q & A session with the audience, to be included in the documentary-in-progress. - A This Is Not A Reading Series Event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Publishers Group Canada, Eyesteel Films, EYE WEEKLY, Gladstone Hotel and Take Five On CIUT.
Gladstone Hotel Melody Bar, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto Tues Feb 24; 7:30pm (Doors 7pm) $5 (Free With Book Purchase)
THE TAQWACORES Set in a Muslim-punk house in Buffalo, New York, Michael Muhammad Knight’s celebrated and controversial novel The Taqwacores features Shi’a skinheads, Indonesian skaters, Sudanese rude boys, gay Muslims, drunk Muslims, and feminists. Their living room hosts parties and prayers, with a hole smashed in the wall to indicate the direction of Mecca. Their life together mixes sex, dope, and religion in roughly equal amounts, expressed in devotion to an Islamo-punk subculture, “taqwacore,” named for taqwa, an Arabic term for consciousness of the divine.
Originally self-published on photocopiers and spiral-bound by hand, The Tawqacores was first picked up for distribution by Alternative Tentacles, the punk record label founded by Jello Biafra. It has since been published in the US by radical press Autonomedia. A UK version is published by Telegram Books. The Italian translation re-titled the novel, Islampunk.
Knight’s novel has come to be read as a manifesto for Muslim punk rockers. It inspired the start of an actual taqwacore scene, including such bands as the Kominas, Vote Hezbollah and Secret Trial Five. Noted scholar Carl Ernst, specialist in Islamic studies at UNC, characterizes The Taqwacores as “a Catcher in the Rye for young Muslims.”
MICHAEL MUHAMMAD KNIGHT’s work has been censored, boycotted, confiscated, and threatened with legal action. He is the author of Blue-Eyed Devil and The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-Hop, and the Gods of New York, and the forthcoming Impossible Man, a memoir, Journey to the End of Islam, an account of international pilgrimage, and his next novel, Osama Van Halen. He is the subject of a forthcoming documentary produced by the Montreal-based film company Eyesteel.
OMAR MAJEED is an award-winning director, editor and producer. He has worked as an editor at the National Film Board, and as a Gemini award-winning producer/director at CTV and CityTV. More recently, Majeed worked with Montreal indie company Eyesteel Film doing post-production on documentaries. He is currently traveling across North America, guerilla-style shooting a documentary about Michael Muhammed Knight, Taqwacore: The Birth Of Punk Islam.