PIETY-CORE

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Through my travels in the internet I read this article on the NYtimes site. It’s an article about a budding sub-culture of American Islamic punk bands, criticizing both American imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism which arose in response to a novel. The novel is Michael Muhammad Knight’s ‘The Taqwacores’. From the blurb for Knight’s forthcoming memoir, via his Wikipedia page:

“Impossible Man follows a boy’s struggle in coming to terms with his father—a paranoid schizophrenic and white supremacist who had threatened to decapitate Michael when he was a baby—and his father’s place in his own identity. It is also the story of a teenager’s troubled path to maturity and the influences that steady him along the way. Knight’s encounter with Malcolm X’s autobiography transforms him from a disturbed teenager engaged in correspondence with Charles Manson to a zealous Muslim convert who travels to Pakistan and studies in a madrassa. Later disillusioned by radical religion, he again faces the crisis of self-definition. For all its extremes, Impossible Man describes a universal journey: a wounded boy in search of a working model of manhood, going to outrageous lengths to find it.”

Here’s an interview with him where he talks about progressive islam, wrestling and the Five Percenters.

Not quite sure what to say about this more than I think it’s interesting to see that there are people out there rebelling against, wrestling with and writing sincerely about the big questions. That kind of passionate engagement seemed like something my generation had lost in the haze of cynicism, non-position taking coolness and infinite consumer choice. As someone else as well who felt that reading Malcolm X’s autobiography was an important event but felt unsure how to respond to it I thought this guy’s response was interesting if a little extreme (move to Pakistan and attend a Madrassa). As a lover of books in general I also love the idea that a novel could generate this kind of response and create this kind of cultural space.


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