12.2.08

The Taqwacores


So a white punk (Micheal Muhammad Knight) in the US becomes Muslim and for some reason goes to learn about Islam in an Islamabadi madrassa in Pakistan. He gets the chance, but for some reason doesn't go on a 'field trip' to Chechnya and returns home.

He writes the Taqwacores as what he thought would be his parting broadside to a religion he loved, but ends up sticking with it mA. The book centres on a houseload of punk muslims who apparently represent several trends present in Muslim life.

Only its all so bluddy extreme and decadent. Iranian guy with tatoos everywhere, evil woman cloaking her evil ways in a patched up niqab, indonesian chap called imam fasiq who sits on the roof smoking blunts reading the quran and a charismatic punk genius who gets killed in the most messed up finale that a Muslim mind could ever conjure up. Interestingly the narrative is presented from the point of view of the ubiquitous pakistani engineering student. This is probably his intended audience though nobody has ever intelligently interviewed the man. One character I really laughed at the patheticness of was the wannabe-bohemian Bangladeshi art student girl. Eurgh.

He is no Rushdie, he knows he's crossing Our unwritten redlines, but isn't being hateful. You can tell this by the scene when they all go chillout and pray in a mosque. In real life he has been used, seen through and publically discredited the naff 'Muslim Wakeup!' proregressive thing in the US. He has even had some legal problems with the hoity toity 'Muslims for Bush' girl. One of my elder bhaiya's told me once that 'Fugstar, you need to know that they (the taqwacore lot) are completely nuts', but I still hold a candle for his kind because they produce stuff that seems to have some meaning to it. Some of the scars they bear I guess I share.

There are a lot of lessons in the spaces he has moved through and the things that he writes about (the complementary flavours of islamic identity, practice, real Muslim life, Ummah, innovation and cultural schitzophrenia/synthesis). But reading his stuff is pretty painful, even if you aren't Muslim. Part of me wants everyone to have read it so I can ask them who's fault Jehengirs death was... but the other part of me wants to cringe and whince at the prospect of putting someone dear to me through the traumatic experience of reading it.

It has been said that many have misunderstood the book, especially the bunch of yaars who used it as a motivation to setup a band called 'The Kominas'. But others have come up with something half decent and there should be no mistake in identifying Sean Muttaqi as the firestarter of all of this. One cute sidenote is how the british version was a little censored because it was brought here after the cartoon mayhem. It is still very sick and needlessly crass though, it's hard to imagine what critera they used to remove certain passages, but the fact they bothered deserves some kudos.

In an age where innocent civilians are stumbling upon 'Ed's' pile of bum and drawing conclusions about The Millet, I reckon 'The Taqwacores' is good for a laugh, if not just to be put back in touch with one's more Victorian values. Other books for interesting adventures around the Ummah are Ziauddin Sardar's 'Desperately Seeking Paradise' and Akbar S Ahmed's 'Journey Into Islam'. Ahmed's one oozes finesse and a real love and regard for Islamic historical trends, Muslim people and the journeys they take, while Sardar's is a little more erm ... 'self centric' (its semi autobiographical after all), playful and fiesty. Both are written by people, from my point of view, of far greater oversight, substance and knowledge.

8 comments:

some random bloke said...

ha ha...

liked the comment about Ed Husain. The guy speaks like Tony Blair and is just nauseating. anyway, i downloaded his book through filesharing.

The book is amusing. He says in the book that Omar Bakri gave cannibalism a thumbs up, when Muslims are in a state of war! He obvioualy meant it metaphorically.

He says all islamist groups are one in creed with wahabis, but later contradicts himself when he says HT were considered deviant in creed by the very same wahabis. He then claims that wahabis consider most Muslims mushriks because of their literalism in theology, which is wrong.

he makes a dubious claim that wahabis pray only behind MB and their own like, which is wrong, let alone the claim that MB and wahabis are the one and the same.

God, the book is such junk...awful...awful.

In an interview with Riz Khan (on al-jazeera) Ed stated that 'Islamist' is the chosen label used by political Islam groups. He then speaks in Arabic a bit, saying that these words i.e. islamiyya, as in dawla islamiyya, means they are calling themselves islamist! Islamiyya or islami, all derive from islam. You get books in Fiqh that are called Al-Fiqh Al-Islami, or usul al-fiqh al-islami, meaning islamic fiqh etc.! It does not mean Islamist! the term the arabic media use is 'islamiyeen', which roughly translated as islamists, but political islam groups don't go out of the way to define themselves as 'islamiyeen', as if there is some fixation, as Ed claims.

He claims Qutbian belief (what?!) is to kill non-islamist muslims(what?)...

I can go on and on...If you visit Quilliam's website he claims:

"Ed was a highly effective strategist and campus recruiter who laid the ideological seeds for much of contemporary Islamism's manifestations in Britain."

Is this guy for real!

p.s. the guy has a major status anxiety problem...

some random bloke said...

consider most Muslims mushriks because of their literalism in theology

sorry, meant

consider most Muslims mushriks because they dont agree to the Wahabis literalism in theology

fug said...

dude, this post was on the taqwacores... im postquilliam now

some random bloke said...

fair enough matey. Being on topic:

Muhammad Knight, the bloke whose diaries inspired these bands, is kinda bonkers. But he is honest, unlike Ed/Ayaan and Manji. He also doesn't seem to have an agenda either, just being rebellious and a bit anarchic -- to annoy the maximum amount of people he can. Unlike Ed, Hamza Yousef and the flying sufi masters (while lying for what he actually stands for) will not save his spiritual ass anytime soon...

fug said...

bonkers i can appreciate.

id go easy on shayk hamza. doesnt hold answers to everything, but i think he adds value.

and on the MB 'wahabi thing'. if you are say shia.... the equivalence, imagined or not, is easier to see. (both dont exactly protect your honour)

some random bloke said...

'id go easy on shayk hamza'

bad communication and construction of sentence on my part. I meant:

Unlike Ed (while lying for what he [Ed] actually stands for in relation to the flying Sufi masters), Hamza Yousef and the flying sufi masters will not save Knight's spiritual ass anytime soon...

I personally, as if it matters one jot, like Hamza. He does have something to contribute. Above all he is informed and knows what he is talking about.

some random bloke said...

if you are say shia.... the equivalence, imagined or not, is easier to see. (both dont exactly protect your honour)

Of course they cross, but musn't be conflated. MB are a diverse bunch of people...

fug said...

but id prefer if they jumped off of my particular cloud.