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American Muslims re-appropriate the word “Jihad” #myjihad

American Muslims re-appropriate the word “Jihad” #myjihad


The campaign site explains:

MyJihad is a public education campaign that seeks to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims.

Jihad is a central tenet of the Islamic creed which means “struggling in the way of God“. The way of God, being goodness, justice, passion, compassion, etc (not forcible conversion as wrongly claimed by some).

As Muslims, we are taught to put forth a concerted and noble effort against injustice, hate, misunderstanding, war, violence, poverty, hunger, abuse or whatever challenge big or small we face in daily life, with the purpose of getting to a better place.

While the struggle for justice may be physical (as a last resort, and even then it ought to be a just struggle that goes above and beyond observing the universal code of conduct and rules of engagement), the greatest Jihad is that of the self, a fact often ignored by, or unknown to, many.  In more than one sense, Jihad is more about peace and education than anything else. The highest form of scholarly pursuit (the complex, tiring but important scholarly work of Muslims to decipher their faith and its relation to the world around them) is referred to in Islam as ijtehad which by no coincidence is derived from the same root word as Jihad (jahada meaning “to exert effort.”)

Jihad is a personal commitment to service, patience, determination, and taking the higher road, as such, it tasks us with confronting our own weaknesses, vices, and shortcomings; it is about taking personal responsibility.


The campaign launched last month with transit ads in Chicago and San Francisco, and is now in Washington DC. The campaign has generated lots of user-submitted ads, as well as uptake of the #myjihad hashtag on Twitter.

However, rather predictably, the viral element of the campaign has attracted the attention of anti-Islam activists (and a few old-fashioned racists) who occasionally attempt to flood the conversation with negative Tweets. Since these automatically appear on the My Jihad site, it would seem at first sight as a “hashtag fail”. But you could also look at it as an essential part of the campaign, countering islamophobia with positivity and pride.


My Jihad
Washington Post

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more