The Taqwacores


The Taqwacores is the debut novel by Michael Muhammad Knight, depicting a fictitious Islamic punk rock scene. The title is a portmanteau of taqwa, an Islamic concept of love and fear for Allah, and Hardcore, the punk rock subgenre. Some of the most popular taqwacore bands are: The Kominas, Al-Thawra, Secret Trial Five, Fedayeen, and the Sagg Taqwacore Syndicate. The novel has also been credited by Asra Nomani as first presenting her the idea for woman-led prayer, leading to a historic woman-led congregation on March 18, 2005 with Amina Wadud acting as imam.

Knight originally self-published The Taqwacores in DIY zine format, giving copies away for free until finding distribution with Alternative Tentacles, the punk record label founded by Jello Biafra. After receiving an endorsement from Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), the novel was published by radical press Autonomedia. A UK version is published by Telegram Books. In its Italian translation, the novel is retitled Islampunk.

The narrator of The Taqwacores, Yusuf Ali, is a Pakistani American engineering student from Syracuse, New York, who lives off campus with a diverse group of Muslims in their house in Buffalo. Besides being their home, the house serves as a place to have punk parties and a place for Muslims not comfortable with the Muslim Student Association or local mosques to have Friday prayer.

The book also inspired a documentary entitled Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, directed by Omar Majeed, which follows author Michael Muhammad Knight and several Taqwacore bands across the United States. It was released in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at the Cinéma du Parc on October 19, 2009.

Soft Skull Press is publishing the revised edition, which became available in December 2008.


Due to the Danish Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, the UK edition of The Taqwacores was partially censored.[1]


A feature film adaptation of The Taqwacores directed by Eyad Zahra premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.[2] also titled The Taqwacores (film)

  1. ^ Taqwacores: The Censored Bits - Autonomedia
  2. ^ "The Taqwacores" page at the Sundance Film Festival website
External links
  • "Noureen DeWulf"
  • Autonomedia's official site for The Taqwacores, now out of print
  • "Muhammad was a Punk Rocker" in Eclectica Magazine Vol. 7, No. 1 January/February, 2003
  • Jum'a with the Punks: An Excerpt from The Taqwacores @ Muslim WakeUp!
  • Whitaker, Brian, "Punk Muslims"
  • Preview the novel at Google Books
  • "Soft Skull Press, publisher of the revised edition, 2009"
  • Maag, Christopher (December 2, 2008). "Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book". New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2009. 
  • Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam web site

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