“If rulers inevitably become tyrants, then the only acceptable course of action is to stop installing rulers” ~ Mu’tazili thought
“Listen to me! Whatever path you take, you must believe it with all your heart. It is no good to simply follow others, do you hear? Do what you think is true!” – Sufi teaching
I identified with anarchy long before I came to a full understanding of the variety of opinion found within various anarchist factions. At first I found it hard to identify with any of them, but ultimately I realised I didn’t have to. Instead now I simply celebrate the diversity of thought found throughout anarchism and see them all as important pieces of the puzzle, each of value to the extent that they free individuals from tyranny and coercion and inspire people to refrain from such acts.
Therefore I celebrate Anarchist Islam for its power to revolutionise and free the Muslim world from the tyranny of rulers and religious elites who monopolise the right to interpret the teachings of that religion and impose their interpretation upon everyone else. Anarchist Islam, like anarchist Christianity bases its philosophy on the belief that one cannot serve God if one serves a fellow human.
Taqwacore, a name for Islamic punk, started life as a 2003 novel by Michael Muhammed Knight but soon inspired a real movement that adopted the name he gave it. Islamic punk existed before the novel, such as the UK punk group Alien Kulture formed in 1979, the novel has inspired a new wave of such bands, including the Komina’s, the Secret Trial Five, Al-Thawra, Diacritical and Sarmurst who feature in the documentary film Taqwacore: the birth of punk Islam. I have yet to see this as its only available for download in the US and Canada, and the DVD is region 1 only. I currently lack a multi-region DVD player.
Over the weekend just past however, Lolita and I did manage to see the film The Taqwacores, an adaptation of the novel. I haven’t read the novel so this was my first real exposure beyond listening to a bit of the music online. I found the film quite inspirational and saw my younger self in some of the characters, although my own struggles to unite anarchism and religion came from my upbringing in the Roman Catholic church rather than Islam. As happens when individuals unite anarchism with religion, the teachings transform from external rules that need to be obeyed, into a form of personal mysticism and at several points I saw this beautifully expressed in the film in ways that can communicate to all those open to mystical path, including to non-muslims such as myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I found it anarchic, mystical and as punk as fuck. Its not afraid to offend, and only the most anarchic individuals will come out of this film not offended by something or other within it. This doesn’t mean that any of the characters have a full grasp of anarchist theory, instead it shows a diverse group of young Muslim outsiders each on their own distinct personal journey and with varying degrees of exploration of anarchist thought, united only by their love of punk music. Each attempts to reconcile that love with their Islamic faith to varying degrees and in their own personal ways.
I recommend watching if you get a chance…
- The Taqwacore Webzine: http://taqwacore.wordpress.com/
- On Becoming a Muslim Anarchist: http://ihsan-net.blogspot.com/2005/06/on-becoming-muslim-anarchist.html