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The Taqwacores


The Taqwacores, by Eyad Zahra, is a movie that was filmed in 2010 while adapting an earlier novel, The Taqwacores that was authored by Michael Muhammad Knight. It is based on an imagination of an Islamic punk rock that is presented by use of characters that share a punk house. The movie presents diverse subcultures through the characters and a show of different extent of religious faith. This review seeks to show the ideas and beliefs that the movie actors believed in.

Key words: subcultures, religious faith, Islamic punk rock


The Taqwacores Movie Review

The Taqwacores by Eyad Zahra is a feature-film that adapts the theme that was represented in an earlier cult novel by Michael Muhammad Knight. The movie reflects a powerful story of the United State’s punk Islam and how one can discover himself amidst religious limitations. It reflects diverse subcultures. The subcultures presented include straight and gay, traditional and radical and hedonistic and abstemious. It is about the living conditions that a Pakistani-American engineering student called Yusef encounters after going off campus in the company of a Muslim Punks group. The first generation engineering student moves to Buffalo, New York in the company of his housemates (Zahra, 2010). When he is in the new company, Yusef is introduced to Taqwacores. With time, the roommates are influenced by Taqwacores and the living conditions reflect the diversity of the friends’ beliefs. During the day, the living room is used as a mosque but after nightfall the room hosts punk shows. The lifestyle slowly presents an ideological battle within Yusef and ends up challenging his faith.

At the start of the movie, Yusef, whose official name is Bobby Naderi, arrives. Yusef’s parents are glad that their son has succeeded in housing in an all-Muslim group house. They hope that living with Muslim friends will help Yusef safeguard his religious faith and lead an upright life. However, it turns out that the housemates, living in a highly graffitied building, are not as upright as Yusef’s parents imagined. They are the exact opposite of the newcomer who is upright and innocent. Yusef lives with Volkan Eryaman, commonly known as Ayyub. Ayyub often walks shirtless. Other roommates are Jehangir who has a red-mohawk hairstyle and the gay Muzzamil. Another roommate is Rabeya, formally called Noureen DeWulf. Rabeya believes in feminism and he is strongly outspoken (Zahra, 2010).

There are several in-house conflicts that result from the fact that the roommates have diverse beliefs. Some of the roommates show value for morality while others are involved in gross immorality. For example, an incident occurs when Ayyub is caught having sex during a wild party. He is evicted from the group by Umar who values morality and expects Ayyub to display moral acts. Fasiq gives a sermon on the virtues given by Allah during prayers held on a Friday night. As the sermons are on, Yusef is obsessed by his attraction to Lynn. Lynn is a semi-convert who gets disappointed by the realization that Yusef wants to abstain until marriage.

The movie shows how the roommates deviate from the norms of their religious faith. They share the Muslim faith but show varied levels of loyalty to the norms of the faith. It is through the roommates’ lifestyle that their religious inclination and level of faith is portrayed. Looking at them as representatives of Islam, as a religious faith, one is tempted to believe that Islam tolerates misfits. This happens because some of the roommates are deeply into drinking and taking drugs. In some cases, they rip pages off the Koran when they fail to agree with the doctrine. All of them welcomed punk rock and listened to it. Basically, the lifestyle led by Yesuf and his roommates depict the pressure of peer groups and how it can impact one’s virtues.

After Yesuf learns that he is meant to share a room with badass Muslim punks who are opposed to the traditional religion, he shows mixed reactions. To some extent, he is scared by the ideologies of his housemates while he is also excited about them (Zahra, 2010). The housemates like partying and enjoying loud music. They are more into taking weed. On one occasion, Yesuf gets amazed to witness a Muslim Punk putting on his back a Star of David. When he shows concern about the act, he is comforted by one of his housemates who tell him that this act is similar to a situation where Sid Vicious happens to wear swastika. The argument convinces Yesuf and he feels that the act is acceptable. From this event, it seems as if the punks are not rebellious against Judeophobia.

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The Taqwacores, as was first written by Knight, depicted the concept of Muslim punk as a fantasy. From the time when the book was released to the public sphere, the scenes presented in the book have developed in the country. The night based bands in the novel are found in the film. They are presented in a sequence that makes the housemates to host rowdy Taqwacore shows. Some of the shows turn out to be extremely rowdy to the point that they become divisive. The films reflection of outrageous elements appears jarring because the movie is not acted for farce.


In conclusion, the movie appears clumsy in its development. However, it is though provoking as it advocates for universal acceptability. The writer and the movie director give an indication of the manner in which religious sects can lead to criticisms based on their little beliefs. Differences in religious beliefs and the moral standards attached to it are communicated using the characters that have diverse subcultures. Some of the characters’ lifestyles are straight as the writer also gives an insight to gay through the character Muzzamil. The movie also displays traditional, radical, hedonistic and abstemious sub cultures. From its plot, the movie is intended to interest and to shock its audience. It also transports viewers to a world that is half exotic and half realistic of a situation unruly adolescents stay together.

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