Social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with the anti-extremism campaign MyJihad: Reclaiming Islam. On Twitter the trending hashtag #MyJihad has been quite lively as the reclamation of this very central theological term and concept has been met with a warm welcome from audiences, specifically Muslims who have long felt misrepresented by the misappropriation and manipulation of the term “Jihad” in the public conscience (due in large part to the actions of extremists such as Bin Laden and their counterparts, the self-described “counter-Jihad” extremists like Anders Behring Breivik, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.)
According to the MyJihad website the campaign officially kicked off on Tuesday, December 11. We first got wind of the campaign back in September when it unofficially launched on Facebook and twitter. Back then, Garibaldi wrote about the campaign,
It is clearly an attempt to reclaim the meaning of Jihad from the extremists and absolutists in both the “West” and the “East,” who feed off of each others hate.
Garibaldi’s article focused on a Twitter exchange between the founder of the MyJihad campaign Ahmed Rehab and JihadWatch director Robert Spencer in which Spencer inadvertently admitted that Jihad means more than “warfare” or as he likes to paint it “terrorism” against innocents, which proves the campaign’s purpose:
The campaign is now displaying ads on buses that essentially have Muslims explaining how they relate to Jihad in their daily lives, a reality that has long gone missing from the overall discussion which tends to take the side of the extremists and the sensational.
Jihad in the face of personal loss:
Jihad has to do with making friendship across the isle:
A Muslim man with prayer beads and a Jewish man with Hebrew/English on his shirt that reads “If not now, when?” (famous statement by Hilel the Elder) building friendships:
This Jihad has to do with the challenge of wearing a veil and judging those who “cover”:
These advertisements challenge the prevailing idea about Jihad being foremost about “Holy War,” a view which is most enthusiastically propagated by the hate group AFDI/SIOA and their founders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (whose Ad campaigns this past year have sent an opposite message of hate and racism.)
In response to the bus ads Islamophobes are going berserk, which is understandable as they have pegged their careers and lives on demonizing Islam and Muslims. The question I would ask is: If Muslims are telling you that they don’t believe in the “Jihad” of Bin Laden why tell them they have their religion wrong? What interest does it serve Geller and Spencer to propagate the Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad? That seems to be the height of absurd Islamophobia.
Of course Geller and Spencer are resorting to conspiracy theory, pushing the idea that this is all “Taqiyya,” and that the non-Muslims who are involved are a bunch of “dhimmi” half-wits. It seems that in response they want to reproduce their own Ad which essentially copy the MyJihad campaign but emphasize the voices that MyJihad is pushing against:
It is apt, here, to highlight what MyJihad founder Ahmed Rehab has said about his motivations in initiating this campaign. He remarked in a tweet that he was inspired by the words of a South Side Chicago Imam who said that,
“When you have a glass of dirty water on the side of the road all you have to do is put a clean glass of water next to it and let the people decide which one to choose.”