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What do you think of Taqwacores?

What do you think of Taqwacores?


What do you think of Taqwacores? or “Punk Islam”?

Salaam alykum,

I’m not a fan of Taqwacores, mostly because I feel like the writer of the novel not only plays into the narrative that makes Muslims “normal” relative to the standards of American society, but I find there is a tremendous disconnect between what are the underlying reasons for this.

Many times there is this perception that Muslims need to integrate themselves into their societies, remove themselves from their shells, and to a certain extent, I somewhat agree.

However, what is difficult with that sentiment (and subsequent narrative) is it highlights one issue and ignores another.

It highlights that all previous groups who have come to America have been subject to prejudice. Italians, Polish, Chinese, etc have all taken their licks, been subject to rather nasty racism, but eventually, have come to be seen as part of American society.

Muslims (who are immigrants) have not. The narrative of African-American Muslims and con/reverts is whole other story, but what is different about Muslims who are immigrants is that we are being subject to some rather terrible things ourselves, and while I can understand that “it’s part of the process,” I also, don’t accept that.

This is why:

The groups before us came to this country before sensitivity training, they came before we had cable news, they came before someone could get fired for saying something racist on TV. We are emerging during a time where there are these things, and yet we do not enjoy any of them.

There is no sensitivity training for Muslims, just random videos that call us “Jihadis;” cable news, whether Foxnews or MSNBC feature racist and prejudiced reporting on Muslims; and if you say something racist/prejudiced against Muslims you are rewarded for “standing up” for some abstract concept of “Freedom of Speech.”

This tension is seldom discussed. It is alluded to, generally through issues featuring the “war on terror,” but it tends to be superficial, and it is boring.

So, when I read something like Taqwacores, or the other pieces that the author writes, or the “related movements,” I see an understanding of Islam that has denied these aforementioned issues, yet has taken on the mantle for speaking for these people. I find this rather unnerving.

I have a problem when I get the sense that Islam is being used as a “prop.” When I read it, when I watch the film, I see a show, an attempt to be accepted so badly, with a simple veneer of Muslim problems, and so it tends to strike me as disingenuous and manufactured.

Finally, I do not like it when I feel Islam is being made into a “tourist attraction,” an oddity, something to differentiate one’s self, and it wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Muslims themselves were allowed to speak for themselves. Instead, we are only represented by those who conform to the narrative, that we want to belong, that we want to be “normal,” and yet the question is never asked: what do we actually want?

I pray this reaches you and your families in the best of health and Iman, insha Allah.

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