All British Muslims engage with jihad every single day.
But not in the way you might think…
The meaning of jihad has been lost in translation
If you do a Google image search for ‘jihad’ you will be presented with thousands of pictures of bazukas, bullets and bombs. Young men travelling to fight with ISIS are referred to a jihadis.
As a result even well educated British people think that jihad is synonymous with extremism.
But jihad is an Arabic word which literally means ‘to struggle against sin’.
So for me forcing myself to pray after a long day at work is jihad. Turning down a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summers day is jihad. Trying not to stare at an attractive woman in the street is jihad.
But holy war is jihad
I’m sure people will tell me that there are different types of jihad, and that some of them involve violence but we have better words to describe them:
- Don’t use the term to describe acts of terrorism – the proper term is murder.
- Don’t use the term to describe holy war – the proper term is war.
By describing heinous acts as jihad it makes them appear to be Islamic, when they would be more better described as the crimes that they are.
This would have the effect of distancing ordinary Muslims from criminal acts apparently carried out in their name.
Words can change their meanings
Just think of wicked, sick and gay
As Muslims the best thing we can do is not to stop using the word (it is already too widely-used for people to stop) but to use it for things that really are jihad.
A good way to start is to use #myjihad and #reclaimjihad on social media to tell people what jihad means to you.