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Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing
     

Tripping with Allah: Islam, Drugs, and Writing

by Michael Knight
 

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If Tripping with Allah is a road book, it’s a road book in the tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey, rather than On the Road. Amazonian shamanism meets Christianity meets West African religion meets Islam in this work of reflection and inward adventure. Knight, the “Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature” seeks

Overview

If Tripping with Allah is a road book, it’s a road book in the tradition of 2001: A Space Odyssey, rather than On the Road. Amazonian shamanism meets Christianity meets West African religion meets Islam in this work of reflection and inward adventure. Knight, the “Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature” seeks reconciliation between his Muslim identity and his drinking of ayahuasca, a psychedelic tea that has been used in the Amazon for centuries. His experience becomes an opportunity to investigate complex issues of drugs, religion, and modernity.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
There are few, if any, Muslim writers like Knight (Why I Am A Five Percenter), who has been called the Hunter S. Thompson of Islamic literature. This memoir of his time with the spiritual group Santo Daime and ayahuasca, the psychedelic drug community members ingest to get closer to the divine, cements Knight's status as Islam's gonzo experimentalist. The book references 1980s wrestling and cartoons, graphic descriptions of Knight's eating disorder while he was living out of his car, and his sexual dysfunction before he ingests ayahuasca. When he finally takes the drug, it is a fascinating, odd trip, but one that transforms him for the better and seems to make him understand women with a humanity that eluded him during his misogynistic past. Knight has a gift for humor and honesty, though it's not always clear where, or if, his trip will end. Chapters about coffee, cannabis, and other drugs seem off-topic, but Knight's storytelling allows for a memorable arrival at the destination.
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Kirkus Reviews
A personal quest into the intersection of Islam and mind-altering drugs. "I am a Muslim with plans with tripping with Allah, if Allah so wills, making me simultaneously a participant in two religions of high discomfort in our present America." A sentence like that, which comes early in the pages of Knight's (Osama Van Halen, 2009, etc.) memoir, isn't going to win its author points with Homeland Security or the Salafi mullahs. It is thoroughly revealing of Knight's program, however, which started off as a scholarly inquiry: He wanted to consider the effects of drug use on a modern Islamic practitioner--a "chemically enhanced Sufism," as a friend puts it--in much the same way an anthropologist might look at a drug-induced spirit journey among an Amazonian people. The author is cautiously academic in some respects; he worries, for example, that his discipline is painting with too wide a brush by applying the rubric "shamanism"--once specific to the peoples of northern Siberia--to such spirit journeys around the world. But Knight is also exuberant, sometimes to the point of channeling, directly or indirectly, the menacing drug dealer in the movie Withnail & I (1987): "I've put substances into my body that are so fuckin' condemned by society that I wouldn't even name them to you. So, from that experience, I'd say to go for it." Does Knight succeed in melding ayahuasca and Islam? It's most certainly worth reading this intelligent book to find out, for it has, beg pardon, a higher purpose than its surface gonzoism might suggest at first, with its smart meditations on consciousness and the passage of time. William James, suffice it to say, would probably be appalled at first, and then fascinated.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593764999
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
401 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Muhammad Knight is a novelist, essayist, and journalist. He converted to Islam at 16, after reading Autobiography of Malcom X, and traveled to Islamabad at age 17 to study at a madrassa. He is the author of The Taqwacores, Impossible Man, Osama Van Halen, Journey to the End of Islam, and William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur’an. Knight lives in New York and North Carolina.

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