The film, directed by Eyad Zahra, is based on a novel by Michael Muhammad Knight about a fictitious Muslim punk scene in the United States. The tale is told through the eyes of Yusef (Bobby Naderi), a preposterously naïve engineering student in Buffalo, whose family is from Pakistan. Yusef moves off campus into a squalid house full of fellow Muslims with some decidedly untraditional ideas about the faith. There are prayers during the day and wild parties at night.
An Islamic punk rock scene is emerging as another dimension of life for Muslims in America.
“In this so-called war of civilizations, we’re giving the finger to both sides,” says the ‘godfather’ of the Muslim punk movement, Michael Muhammad Knight.
“Given punk’s history and values, Muslim punk makes sense,” says the Pakistani-Canadian director of Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam, Omar Majeed.
“Punk tends to gravitate toward marginalized voices,” he says. “So it’s no surprise that there are Afro-punks, Latino punks. It’s about questioning authority. The purpose of it is not to be a jerk, but to talk truth to power.”
By Evan Serpick In late august, a creaking green school bus with red camels stenciled on its side rolled up to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. Seventeen exhausted, beer-reeking punks, with mohawks and dyed hair, walked up to the mosque looking for a place to rest. “I was surprised — they totally let us hang out there,” says Kourosh Poursalehi, 19, frontman for San Antonio’s Vote Hezbollah. “They even wanted CDs and stuff.” Vote Hezbollah (the band’s name is intended as a joke) is one of five Muslim punk bands that recently wrapped up a ten-date tour that took them from Boston to Chicago during August and September. The bands, which hail from Chicago, San Antonio, Boston and Washington, D.C., share left-of-center politics and an antipathy toward the president. And all have used punk as a means to express the anger, confusion and pride in being young and Muslim in post-9/11 America.