Less than two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo attacks — and the subsequent demands that followed for Muslims to denounce violence — it's got to be a tough time to produce a light-hearted podcast called "Good Muslim/Bad Muslim." But that's not what hosts Taz Ahmed and Zahra Noorbakhsh think.
The two women argue it's actually a great time to show the lighter side of the Muslim community. And it's not like non-Muslims are short of questions.
"When people hear I drink and eat pork but still call myself Muslim, they saw me as someone who is quote un-quote 'assimilated' and referred to me as a 'good Muslim,'" Noorbakhsh says. "I thought that was hilarious, because both those things make me technically a 'bad Muslim.'"
Noorbakhsh's definitions of a "good" Muslim is pretty standard: someone who prays five times a day, fasts and observes Muslim holidays instead of discovering them through Twitter hashtags.
It wasn't that clear for Ahmed. She never drank or got involved with drugs as a kid, but she loved going to punk shows. "In my parents' eyes, that made me a terrible Muslim daughter," she says, "and I think that's kind of the contradiction: All my friends considered me the good kid in school and at home I was considered the bad kid."
The two women play up that ridiculousness in their podcast. For instance, Noorbakhsh's husband is an atheist, but he doesn't drink or eat meat “In a lot of ways, he’s more Muslim than I am,” Noorbakhsh says.
The other big goal for the podcast is to challenge American ideas about Muslim women. Ahmed and Noorbakhsh hope to create some positive change in the Muslim community — or at least provide space for a community that didn't exist when they were in their teens.
“We’ve been having these conversations on our own,” Ahmed. says “Others who are around us just laugh along with us, and we're hoping we can bring a lot more people along with us.”