17 December 2009

Punk On A Prayer Mat

Australian/Indonesian. Vegan. Muslim. Left-Wing. Punk. Hijabi. These words seem so disjointed when you isolate them but collectively these words describe, basically, who I am. Strange, huh? It wasn't long ago when I'd look at these words and feel a great sense of loneliness in my gut.

A little over a year ago, I Googled the words "Muslim Punk" and found a couple of Myspace pages, including The Muslim Punk Foundation and The Kominas music page. I had a look around and a listen but for some strange reason, I didn't feel any kind of connection with it. To be quite honest, it all seemed pretty dead to me. For a whole year, I ignored what could have saved me from feeling like an outsider every single day of my life.

It wasn't until around June this year that I decided to re-visit Google and type in the exact same words. This time around, however, I decided to do a bit more than to look around two pages because something told me that there had to be more people out there like me.
I found a beautiful girl from the UK named Tabzy whose blog made me feel like I had found my fucking twin. The title of her blog is "Ramblings of a Not-Very-Hardcore Muslim Punk" and her blurb pretty much described everything I wanted to say to the world in regards to my identity.
I discovered an awesome band from Chicago named Al-Thawra ("The Revolution" in Arabic) when I never would have imagined a blend of crust-punk and traditional Middle Eastern music actually working and sounding brutally awesome.
And it was back to The Kominas for me that very day too, four punks who decided it was okay to question religion and not necessarily reject it.
Also, I found Eyad Zahra, a Muslim director based in California who is working on the motion picture inspired by the novel The Taqwacores - a book written by Michael Mohammed Knight that brought these punks together and gave them a name that embodied their ideas without having to be defined by anybody on the outside looking in.
It wasn't even the idea of Taqwacore that got me. It was the fact that I had found a diverse array of people - each and every one of them with a different idea about what Islam and punk meant to them. The thing is I probably don't even share the same lifestyle and/or life philosophy as these people but it doesn't matter because essentially, we share Islam and punk as the basis of our beliefs and through these people, I have cyber-met a dozen other wonderful people.

I hadn't read the The Taqwacores until a few days ago when my friend Luke texted me saying "Bring $23, we have The Taqwacores!" whilst on my way to Jura Books. I had no cash on me so I had to borrow the money but that didn't matter - I had to get my hands on this book no matter what. So I read it on the train ride home, before I went to bed that night, in between waiting for my slow-arse laptop to load pages, during commercial breaks and on every bus and every train.
It's a strange thing reading the book after finding the scene rather than the other way around, I think. Even though the book is not precisely how everything works in real life, it still gave me a little bit more objectivity when thinking about real-life Taqwacore. Before reading the book, I had the idea that everything was perfect and everybody loved each other. But that may not necessarily be the case and I don't know because I'm kilometres away from where it all began. I'm still new to it all so I think that objectivity helps.

I hope that I get to meet all these people in the near future and I fucking pray that I'll get to even play some shows with them. I don't usually say things like this because I don't like to impose religion onto anyone but I feel it's appropriate: maybe Allah decided it was time I found someone to relate to.


14 December 2009


"No, I'm vegan now," you replied
but you saw me frown and continued
"But I can teach you how to make vegan pancakes."
I jumped out of bed, tripped over
some clothes and bongs
and before you could crawl out from under the blanket,
I was in the kitchen pulling out utensils.
You came in stumbling after me, hair lopsided
and there we were, ready to take on the world.