Synopses & Reviews
"Born Irish Catholic in upstate New York, Knight converted to Islam as a teenager and wrote an influential underground novel, The Taqwacores, about young Muslim-Americans struggling to integrate their religious beliefs with an affinity for beer and the Sex Pistols. His latest, a stream of consciousness chronicle of his pilgrimage to holy sites in Pakistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, resembles nothing so much as the archetypal American road novel complete with a harrowing episode of cannabis-induced psychosis, a breezy tone ('I spent two months in Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, doing the madrassa thing and considering jihad in Chechnya') and indifference to whether the reader can follow his references (if you aren't acquainted with Muslim history and terminology, you would be well-advised to stay within close reach of Wikipedia). He probes and prods the boundaries of his faith with unabashed emotion and honesty, even questioning, near the end of his journey, whether he really understands anything about Islam. But the book is most engaging when he turns his gaze outward to make pithy observations on the intersection of religion and global capitalist culture (he describes Saudi Arabia as the 'Wal-Mart of Islam')." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In Journey to the End of Islam
, Michael Muhammad Knight whose work has led to him being hailed as both the Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson of American Islam wanders through Muslim countries, navigating between conflicting visions of his religion. Visiting holy sites in Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, and Ethiopia, Knight engages both the puritanical Islam promoted by Saudi globalization and the heretical strands of popular folk Islam: shrines, magic, music, and drugs. The conflict of global” and local” Islam speaks to Knights own experience approaching the Islamic world as a uniquely American Muslim with his own sources: the modern mythologies of the Nation of Islam and Five Percenters, as well as the arguments of Progressive Muslim thinkers for feminism and reform.
Knights travels conclude at Islams 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 Arabias 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.