Taqwacores: The Censored Bits

Background: In 2004, Autonomedia published the second edition of The Taqwacores; the first edition had been photocopied and spiral-bound at Kinko's, and distributed by hand, zine-style. The Autonomedia edition was essentially the same manuscript, redesigned and with a few minor typographical changes.

In 2006, Telegram acquired the rights to publish a UK edition of the novel. At the 11th hour, after the book had been announced in their catalog, it was determined that certain of the passages were too blasphemous, and thus too risky to publish in the hypersensitive cultural environment of post-Danish cartoon Europe. After some negotiation with the author, a compromise was reached — the story wouldn't be changed, but "offending" sections would be removed, and replaced with asterisks.

As a service to readers of the British edition, then, and in the interest of the right of an author to publish without compromise, we present the passages missing from the UK edition. All page numbers refer to the British edition, and all text is from the US edition. The censored passages appear in [brackets].

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Page 9: This was the girl who jumped in front of the microphone at last night’s party decked out in full purdah to cover the Stooges’ “Nazi Girlfriend” through her niqab singing slow and spooky like Iggy Pop’s withered Old Man Mortality voice—“I want to fuck her on the floor, among my books of ancient lore”—the same girl who stood in front of our baseball-bat-through-the-wall-mihrab on Fridays to give khutbah and circulated handwritten rants on the sexism of both hemispheres in her self-published zine [Ayesha’s Hymen].

Page 41: “You got all these poor kids who think they’re inferior because they don’t get their two Fajr in, their four Zuhr, four Asr, three Maghrib, four Isha, their [fuckin’] Sunna, their Witr, their Nafl, they don’t wear leather socks and they don’t brush their teeth with twigs, they don’t have beards, they don’t wear hejab, maybe they went to their fuckin’ high school proms and the only masjid around was regular horseshit-horseshit-takbir-masjid and they had to pretend like they were doing everything right, wiping their asses the way Bukhari tells you to and making the proper du’a—well I say fuck that and this whole house says fuck that—even Umar, you think Umar can go in a regular masjid with all his stupid tattoos and dumb straightedge bands? Even Umar, bro, as much as he tries to Wahabbi-hard-ass his way around here, he’s still one of us. He’s still fuckin’ taqwacore—”

page 43 (long passage): “Yeah,” I replied, wondering if my confession of Islam having stupid shit made me an apostate as well. “But it sounds like you have tawhid down, that’s the important thing.”
[“I guess.”
“What about Muhammad, do you believe in Muhammad?”
“That’s the thing,” she said with a sudden alertness. “What’s the deal with Muhammad? If they don’t make him out to be the Muslim Christ, then why is belief in him so vital?”
“Well, it’s not so much belief in Muhammad, as—”
“Besides even that, what am I supposed to believe about a guy who married a six-year-old?”
“Yes, but—”
“He did marry a six-year-old,” she said.
“But he did not consummate until she was—”
“Nine, I know. That makes it all okay. It’s okay Rasullullah, she’s nine, she had her period so throw it in’er. What am I supposed to do with that, Yusef?”
“I don’t know, Lynn.”]

“I’m a spiritual person,” she said.

page 52: “It’s in the hadiths,” said Ayyub.
[“Fuckin’ everything’s in the hadiths!” yelled Fasiq. “You can find hadiths saying Muhammad used pinecones for dildos.”
“There weren’t pine trees in Arabia,” said Ayyub.]

“Fuck off,” said Fasiq.

page 68: He answered that with some [fucked up] hadiths about how on the Day of Judgment I’d be resurrected with pregnant hands.

page 74 (long passage): Rabeya moved slightly in her seat.
[“You know what’s interesting,” she interjected. “Muhammad gave more explicit accounts of the houris and so forth when he was only living with Khadija. After she died and Rasul started piling up all those wives and slave-girls he calmed down a little.”
“Really?” I asked.
“He was in his fifties having sex like, what—eleven times a night? With wives often giving up their turns so he could go again with his favorite, the nine-year-old? I would hope that was enough ass for him.”
“Wow,” I remarked. Umar left the kitchen.
“He didn’t need to think about houris,” Rabeya added, “once he became a rock star.”]

“Yo,” said Amazing Ayyub. “You know what? In Jinnah, every orgasm lasts six hundred years.”

page 81: But little Ayesha, thirteen years old in seventh-century Arabia, did it right in Muhammad’s face. Al-hamdulilahi Rabbil’Alameen.”
[“Ayesha was a bitch though,” whispered Amazing Ayyub on my immediate right. “She fuckin’ had arrows shot at Hasan’s coffin, what about that?” I ignored him and looked down where my forehead would soon go in sudjah.]
Rabeya recited Quran beautifully, often getting me on the verge of tears;

page 103 (long passage): He caught my pass and held onto the ball. [“And the Quran, bro, it wasn’t even a book in Muhammad’s own lifetime. It had to be collected off stones and leaves and animal ribs, revised in Uthman’s khalifah… with suras shortened, parts lost or switched around, subject to faulty human memory, opposing versions destroyed, and a thousand variant readings. There’s a lot of human-ness in that divine text. After all is said and done it’s a tiny little book for tiny little men, and Allah is BIG. You want to be Muslim? I’m so Muslim I can take a shit on Bukhari and wipe my ass with the Muwatta. I can say that Muhammad ate a fat dick and it doesn’t even matter because he’s dead and Allah’s alive.”
“How can you—”
“Because la ilaha illa Allah, that’s how. I’m so Muslim, fuck Islam.” He did not speak in a mean or cynical way—to the contrary, fuck Islam danced out his lips with the same romanticism as his deep drunken spiels. “I’m so Muslim, fiqh is worthless. No madrassa of imperfect human beings can claim ownership of my deen. Allah’s not entrusting the alims with shit. Let them give their jerk-off fatwas about how long a man’s beard should be, fuck all of ‘em.”
“So what are you,” I asked, “an agnostic?”
“No, I’m a Muslim. But if anything, agnosticism is the real Islam; because you’re waiting for answers from Allah Herself, not Imam Siraj Dickhead.”]

“What the hell are you doing with Islam right now?”
“I don’t know. Insha’Allah Subhana wa Ta’Ala, I think I’ll put on a punk show.”

page 126: “I see.” I flipped it over and read some song titles on the back. “Shaykh Omar Bakri Can Suck My Cock.” “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” “Houri Gash.” “Fuck the Umma.” [“Our Holy Prophet Fingered His Six-Year-Old Bride In Her Dirty Asshole.”] “Where Mullahs Fear To Tread.” [“Allah’s Name Was Found In A Honeycomb.” “I Twirled The Kaaba On The Tip Of My Dick.”]
“A lot of taqwacore is just to throw shit out there and really piss people off,” he explained, noting the reaction on my face. “People are so uptight and emotional about religion and take it so seriously, sometimes you need a punk to say ‘fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, fuck everything you stand for, you’re full of shit and there’s sperm in your hair.’ Nobody needs to be on a high horse about themselves.”
“How are these guys Muslims, though? Totally disrespecting the Prophet and everything—”
“I don’t know but they are. [You can say Muhammadu rasullullah and then still own up to the fact that he was a pedophile, right? The guy was human and capable of evil and sickness as much as anyone. Nothing special. His shit smelled just as bad as yours. In fact, Muhammad being a sicko is totally punk rawk. Tears down any chance of him being a Christ or sacred cow. You don’t need to condone his hanker for that itty-bitty-titty. And forget about Qurayza. Don’t come off like a mealy-mouthed fundamentalist weirdo for trying to defend that shit. Just accept that Muhammad had his darkness. He had demons, temptations, compromises; look at the shaping of Islam as he rose to power.]
“Anyway, the Ghilmans… they’re as generous with what they have as the fuckin’ Tabligh Jamaat. They have the talent to be big but instead they commit commercial suicide by playing taqwacore.

page 129: Finally I said, fuck it. [If I believe it’s wrong for a man to beat his wife, and the Quran disagrees with me, then fuck that verse.] I don’t need to stretch and squeeze it for a weak alternative reading, I don’t need to excuse it with historical context, and I sure as hell don’t need to just accept it and go sign up for a good ol’ fashioned bitch-slapping. So I crossed it out. Now I feel a whole lot better about that Quran.”

page 157/158: “Shit, shit, I know a guy who doesn’t even defecate anymore and he’s prayed with the same wudhu for ten years. I guess he doesn’t sleep either. Me, I sleep. And I fart. I eat Taco Bell which wrecks me and I fart [out zikrs]. Thirty-three al-hamdulilahs, thirty-three subhana’Allahs, thirty-four Allahu Akbars. [Phbbbbbbbbt! Phbbbbbbbbbbbt!] You know what I said just there? La ilaha illa Huwal’Hayyul Qayyum!” I went upstairs and flopped out on my bed.

page 173: “And you got fuckin’ cathedrals that started out as masjids and nobody knows it. All these Catholics going in on Sunday to eat their wafers and there’s [fuckin’] Quran all over the walls.”

page 174: “The al-Zariyats. The [fuckin’]… Winds that Scatter.

page 181: It’s about people. I do zikrs counting your names on my knuckles: Yusef, Amazing Ayyub, Umar, Rabeya, all of you. We’re the Nur[, and Ghazali can eat a dick].

page 184:i love allah,
[and muhammad
is a dead bird on the sidewalk
but i mean that
in a beautiful way,
in the tawhid way.
so knowing that,]

i love muhammad too.

page 219: “The night before the Tragedy,” a wasted Ayyub explained, “Rasullullah appeared to his widow in a dream. He was all weeping and pale with grief [n’ shit]. She asked Rasullullah what made him so sad and he [fuckin’] said, ‘I have been digging the graves of Husain and his companions.’”

page 225: “And think about how that [fuckin’] baby turned out.”

page 231: You have to stop trying to make sense of Punk—what it’s for, what it’s against. It’s against everything. [The singer from Vote Hezbollah pissed on a Quran.] Everyone loved it. Then he picked up the kitab, shook some drips off, carefully turned the frail wet pages and recited Ya Sin with absolute sincerity. Somehow the whole thing made sense.