Originally self-published on photocopiers and spiralbound by hand, The Taqwacores has now come to be read as a manifesto for Muslim punk rockers and a “Catcher in the Rye for young Muslims.”
There are three different cover colors; red, white, and blue.
Knight—an acclaimed writer who has explored his own evolving religious beliefs in a range of novels, memoirs and essays—uses this mislabeling as yet another opportunity to engage those corners of Islamic tradition that others might dismiss as absurd or dangerous.
Why I am Salafi examines problems of interpretation, practice, and community, illustrating why terms like orthodox or progressive, Sufi or Salafi often fail to convey the reality of Muslim experience. Knight’s analysis includes examination of his own complex religious journey, having converted to Islam at sixteen, studying at a madrassa in Pakistan at seventeen, to
Magic in Islam offers a look at magical and occult technologies throughout Muslim history, starting with Islam's earliest and most canonical sources. In addition to providing a highly accessible introduction to magic as it is defined, practiced, condemned, and defended within Muslim traditions, Magic in Islam challenges common assumptions about organized religion.
Michael Muhammad Knight's deeply original book fills a gap within existing literature on the place of magic in Islamic traditions and opens a new window on Islam for general readers and students of religion alike. In doing so, the book counters and complicates widespread perceptions of Islam, as well as of magic as it is practiced outside of European contexts.
Magic in Islam also challenges our view of "organized religions" as clearly defined systems that can be reduced to checklists of key doctrines, texts, and rules. As a result, Magic in Islam throws a monkey wrench into the conventions of the "intro to Islam" genre, threatening to flip popular notions of a religion's "center" and "margins."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Misrepresented in the media as a black parallel to the Hell's Angels, portrayed as everything from a vicious street gang to quasi- Islamic revolutionaries, The Five Percenters are a movement that began as a breakaway sect from the Nation of Islam (NOI) in 1960s Harlem and went on to impact the formation of hip-hop. References to Five Percent language and ideas are found in the lyrics of wide-ranging artists, such as Nas, Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, and even Jay-Z.
The Five Percenters are denounced by white America as racists, and orthodox Islam as heretics, for teaching that the black man is Allah. Michael Muhammad Knight ("the Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature" -The Guardian) has engaged this culture as both white and Muslim; and over the course of his relationship with The Five Percenters, his personal position changed from that of an outsider to an accepted participant with his own initiatory name (Azreal Wisdom). This has given him an intimate perch from which to understand and examine the controversial doctrines of this influential movement. In Why I Am a Five Percenter, Knight strips away years of sensationalism to offer a serious encounter with Five Percenter thought.
Encoded within Five Percent culture is a profound critique of organized religion, from which the movement derives its name: Only Five Percent can act as "poor righteous teachers" against the evil Ten Percent, the power structure which uses religion to deceive the Eighty- Five Percent, the "deaf, dumb, and blind" masses. Questioning his own relationship to the Five Percent, Knight directly confronts the community's most difficult teachings. In Why I Am a Five Percenter, Knight not only illuminates a thought system that must appear bizarre to outsiders, but he also brilliantly dissects the very issues of"insiders" and "outsiders," territory and ownership, as they relate to religion and privilege, and to our conditioned ideas about race.
Impossible Man follows a boy’s struggle in coming to terms with his father—a paranoid schizophrenic and white supremacist who had threatened to decapitate Michael when he was a baby—and his father’s place in his own identity. It is also the story of a teenager’s troubled path to maturity and the influences that steady him along the way. Knight’s encounter with Malcolm X’s autobiography transforms him from a disturbed teenager engaged in correspondence with Charles Manson to a zealous Muslim convert who travels to Pakistan and studies in a madrassa. Later disillusioned by radical religion, he again faces the crisis of self-definition.
For all its extremes, Impossible Man describes a universal journey: a wounded boy in search of a working model of manhood, going to outrageous lengths to find it.
Though essential for readers interested in Islam or the growing popularity of ayahuasca, this book is truly about neither Islam nor ayahuasca. Tripping with Allah provides an accessible look into the construction of religion, the often artificial borders dividing these constructions, and the ways in which religion might change in an increasingly globalized world.
Finally, Tripping with Allah not only explores Islam and drugs, but also Knight’s own process of creativity and discovery.
Knight’s travels conclude at Islam’s spiritual center, the holy city of Mecca, where he performs the hajj required of every Muslim. During the rites of pilgrimage, he watches as all variations of Islam converge in one place, under the supervision of Saudi Arabia’s religious police. What results is a struggle to separate the spiritual from the political, Knight searching for a personal relationship to Islam in the context of how it's defined by the external world.
Meanwhile, Ayyub embarks on a mission to rid the taqwacore scene of a Muslim pop-punk band called Shah 79. Along the way, he makes himself invisible, escapes punk-eating zombies in a mosque off the desert highway, and runs into some psychobilly jinns. Things turn existential when Ayyub finds himself face-to-face with his creator—no, not Allah, but the author.
This riotous journey of enlightenment reads like a religious service for teenagers on Halloween. But it isn't all raucous fun; written into his own novel, the author finds he is at the mercy of his creation.