The blending of core, as in American hardcore, a sub-genre of punk rock, with the name of the band Taqwá, from the Islamic concept of "God-consciousness," or higher consciousness, yields "Taqwacore," and "Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam" (USA 2010, 84 minutes) is the title of Omar Majeed's directorial debut documentary, being given a Philadelphia premiere by QFest, the city's LGBT film festival. The film was inspired by the book "Taqwacore," a work of fiction by Irish-American, Catholic-raised and now Islamic author Michael Muhammed Knight, which gave rise to an actual movement-and keep in mind that music, dance, and alcohol are, as they in Arabic, "haram"-forbidden.
An email, on a whim, from one of the real band-to-be Taqwá's members to Knight gets the group and its music started. The story of Taqwá begins to unfold, with the band touring the United States-even getting pulled over and questioned by the New York City Police, in Brooklyn-and attracting a following. In defiance of religious tradition, Taqwá has a lesbian thrash band open for it at an Islamic convention in Chicago.
Nothing is sacred or off-limits for Taqwá, including the American flag. The group, like any punk band, is made up of non-conformists. At a concert in Islamabad, during a tour of Pakistan, a band member, dedicating a song, calls out, "This is for the homosexuals." Taqwá's catchy songs, and their lyrics, are controversial, and include such titles as, "Hey Hey Guantanamo Bay," "Fertilize Me," "Stop the Hate," "Grind It Down," and "I Want to Fuck You During Ramadan."
So, if you can, catch "Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam" and you, too, can go dancing in the streets. QFest screens "Taqwacore" on July 14 at 9:30 p.m. at the Ritz East, 125 South Second Street. The 16th annual QFest continues through July 19. Visit http://www.qfest.com for further information.