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Taqwacore is a recent musical genre. The name combines the Arabic taqwá, which may be translated as piety or the quality of being God-fearing, with the music term hardcore.

Its inspiration is a fictional work of 2003 by a white American Islamic convert, Michael Muhammad Knight, which featured a fictitious Muslim punk scene in the US. This led to real-life imitations, with bands rebelling against what they see as the stultifying convention and religious dogma of Islam while maintaining their faith.

It’s variously seem as a backlash against hate and fundamentalism, as a protest against Islamophobia in the US (9/11 is mentioned a lot), as a way to find an identity as a child of immigrants, or as a rebellion against the attitudes of their parents.

The genre has received public attention as the result of a Canadian documentary, Taqwacore, and a feature film, The Taqwacores, screened at the Sundance Festival earlier this year.

There are probably as many definitions of taqwacore as there are people connected to taqwacore, and that is a great thing because to me, it is about an openness. It is somewhat ironic that taqwacore is becoming a label, just by the nature of it being a name assigned to a group of people, but at its essence, it is about removing labels.

Newstex Blogs (USA), 4 Feb. 2010.

Mixing punk sounds and attitude with Hindi lyrics, doses of bhangra and other south Asian beats, the Kominas are part of an emerging musical scene known as Taqwacore.

Guardian, 11 Jun. 2010.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 26 Jun. 2010

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 26 June 2010.