Taqwacore [tok-wah-kor] is a genre of punk music dealing with Islam and its culture, originally conceived in Michael Muhammad Knight’s 2003 novel, ‘The Taqwacores.’ The name is a portmanteau of hardcore and the Arabic word Taqwa, which is usually translated as ‘piety’ or the quality of being ‘God-fearing,’ and thus roughly denotes fear and love of the divine. The scene is composed mainly of young Muslim artists living in the US and other western countries, many of whom openly reject traditionalist interpretations of Islam.

Although Muslim punk music dates at least to the 1979 founding of British band Alien Kulture, and in the 90’s, Nation Records act Fun-Da-Mental and Asian Dub Foundation, this is the first example of US Muslim generated punk. Knight’s novel was instrumental in encouraging the growth of a contemporary North American Muslim punk movement. There is not a definitive ‘taqwacore sound,’ and the scene is much more diverse now than the fictional one portrayed in Knight’s novel, with artists incorporating various styles, ranging from punk to hip-hop, and musical traditions from the Muslim world; the Kominas describe their sound as ‘Bollywood punk,’ Sagg Taqwacore Syndicate is rap and techno inspired, and Al-Thawra uses the term ‘raicore,’ based on Arabic Raï music.

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