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Monday, January 5, 2009

Taqwacore wisdom

All weekend I've continued my obsession with Michael Muhammad Knight's book The Taqwacores, which follows a bunch of young Muslim Punks living in a group house in upstate New York. The setting is often just an excuse to explore the dynamics in Muslim culture, but those dynamics are insightful and often brilliant. In one part, the main characters (all single, all roughly college-age) are arguing over whether or not they're going to raise their children within Muslim tradition:

"I'd just give my kid a Quran," said Fasiq, "and tell him to be on his way. Go find your own truth, you know?"

"I dont' need my kids saying 'Allahu Akbar' when they pray," said Rabeya [who wears full-body burqa and sings Iggy Pop covers]. "That works for me, and I would teach it to them so they know me and who I am and where they're coming from, but if they found something else, cool."

"I wnat my kids to be smart," said Muzammil. I admit it took me a second to remember that homosexuals do raise families. "If I was ever a father I'd take my kid to every kind of temple, real early on. By the time he or she was eight years old they'd have been to a masjid, a church, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple, a Sikh gurudwara, whatever we could find. I want a worldly child. Buy second or third grade my son-slash-daughter will have more appreciation for diversity and the beliefs of others than most adults."

"I believe in teaching my children Islam," I offered. "Just as Pakistan is part of their heritage, so is our religion. You can't separate it. I don't know how strict I'll be; maybe we'll just go to the masjid for Eids and that's it. I doubt we'd pray five times a day, though we wouldn't admit that outside the house. I don't know how I'd be if I had a daughter who wanted to go to the prom...or if my son came home drunk one night. But my own values are constantly changing, so it's hard to say. I honestly have no idea but I have a nice little image in my head of what Islam can be for them.

And, bonus: A startling, impassioned, and sometimes violent Al-Jazeera video segment that profiles the Taqwacore movement:

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