Bad Word: “Jihad”

I sympathize with American Muslims about the misuse of the word “Jihad” by, well, virtually everyone, but I was flabbergasted by the ad campaign launched by the Council on American-Islamic relations in Chicago to redefine the word. The campaign uses real Muslims talking about “My Jihad.”

To quote from the New York Times story:
“’My Jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule,’” says a woman in a head scarf lifting weights…”

Long before September 11th happened, we had been treated to an endless drumbeat of frightening images and angry media reports about Jihadists, Jihadi’s and militants mounting a Jihad against the West. To place ads that use the word in connection with every day “struggles,” such as fitness and bullying just seems ludicrous. Making a dent in this deeply ingrained mis-definition of “jihad” seems like the longest reach imaginable. Of course, there is also an ad campaign to counter “My Jihad,” and it uses negative images and quotes to make all Muslims look dangerous.

So much for good intentions. Also, who came up with this “My Jihad” strategy?  I can’t imagine that it can possibly work. Other techniques to promote dialogue and engagement or to help Americans better understand the growing Muslim community in the U.S. would have been a much better investment.