blog by S.J. Velasquez • August 25, 2011 @ 9:07am
Ever wondered what a badass burqa looks like? Yeah, me too.
Based on a novel of the same name, “The Taqwacores” is a film about young Muslims living an unorthodox punk life in the U.S., and it’s getting lots of media attention abroad.
The film’s storyline follows one young Pakistani Muslim student’s off-campus housing search. Looking to leave the secular dorm life, Yusef finds a place to crash with other young Muslims—who happen to be punk rockers of Islamic faith. Throughout the film, Yusef’s religious practices are challenged, opening his eyes to a new way of living in accordance—or at odds—with Islam.
Set in Buffalo—but filmed in Cleveland—the movie addresses modern cultural issues often times in contrast with traditional Islamic ethical standards. Yusef’s new roomies include a feminist in a burqa who scribbles out verses of the Quran with which she disagrees, a young gay man with enviable cosmetology skills and a mohawk-donning rocker. The movie, released this month in the UK, made a brief appearance in American theaters last year, having been screened at a limited number of theaters and film festivals.
The book on which the movie was based was written by Michael Muhammad Knight, a Geneva boy raised Irish-Catholic who, at 17, left home to study Islam in Pakistan and was exposed to a diverse Muslim experience, including edgier subcultures.
“So I imagined this fantasy world where Islam didn’t have an absolute definition, and you had the power to define it yourself,” Knight told the Guardian in a recent interview. “I didn’t sign on to this whole checklist of beliefs. I felt that I’d failed as a convert and I was an exile, outside the mosque and on the margins. But punk celebrates that. The punk kids inspired me to not be afraid of who I was.”
Did you get a chance to view the movie during its brief U.S. release? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.