Movie review: Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Looking for a movie that will piss off your grandma this weekend? How about a documentary about Islamic punk rock? Yep, that ought to do it.

Grandmas be damned, "Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam" is a pretty fascinating look at a "minority within a minority," a subsection of young Muslim misfits with whom punk resonates.

The term "taqwacore" - a mix of the Islamic concept of "higher consciousness" and the American punk genre suffix of choice - comes from a book by American convert Michael Muhammad Knight. Knight wrote a novel set in the world of "burqa-wearing riot grrls and Indonesian skater boys."

Knight is featured, along with bands like The Kominas, a Pakistani punk band from Boston whose idea of higher consciousness involves not just prayer, but hash and beer. How punk is that?

"Taqwacore" is as much a testament to the fact that young, angry kids of all stripes find solace in punk as it is a portrait of an Islamic subculture.

Young, angry Muslims can be pretty scary to American audiences, but if punk is about anything, it's about throwing middle fingers in all directions. These kids throw theirs in both directions, though sometimes the politics sometimes seem like punk posturing.

Plus, how often does your grandma get a chance to see an all-girl punk band fronted by a Pakistani lesbian from Vancouver?

Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam

Opens Friday at the Gateway

3 stars out of 4