If you’re struggling to protect yourself and others- that’s jihad. I’m struggling to help my son with his life-long condition. That’s my jihad. No one can claim it isn’t. Not the extremist and not the Islamaphobe. Starting a war is not jihad; it’s war. Inflicting harm on others is not jihad. The way Islamophobia has used the word jihad is inaccurate. There is nothing to “defeat” in jihad. Jihad is a struggle to overcome adversity. Jihad is an honorable thing. It’s something that causes one to become better- to reach a more elevated state- in whatever one is struggling with. My jihad is to push through the loss of my son to care for my other son with the same disease and simultaneously care for my other children.
My jihad was to make the decision for how to handle the diagnosis when we first found out our boys had Hunter’s Syndrome. Our options were so slim. At the time, my boys were 9 months and 3 years old. We were informed by neurologists and doctors who specialized in this rare disease that if we did nothing, the disease would progress and we would witness the slow deterioration and loss of all skills and health in our boys, and ultimately their brains would shut down and die by age 9 or 10.
My jihad was to stay strong while watching my boys suffer through transplant- the difficult choice we finally made. My jihad was to keep hope and faith they would survive it. My jihad was, and still is, to accept the outcomes of their transplant- to accept the loss of my son Adam, who passed away just one month shy of his 5th birthday, and to move forward with my other kids.
My jihad is an ongoing struggle- harder a lot of days to stay positive yet hopeful of the unknowns. While our youngest thankfully survived transplant, he now lives on with special needs in school and home. My jihad is to do my best to tend to his needs with the hope that he will live on and grow, but with the uncertainty of the effectiveness of his transplant. My really difficult jihad is seeing his beautiful face each day and being reminded of my Adam that I lost. My jihad is to hold back the tears when I see my youngest live past Adam’s age and do things that Adam never could. My jihad is to push forward- past the grief, past the second guessing if we did the right thing and past the worry of what’s to come.
So I’ll be darned if someone is going to come along and take my struggles, my children’s struggles- our collective jihad- and turn it into something negative or offensive. Or try to deny that our struggles are not true jihad. Or use an English dictionary to define to me what MY jihad is. My jihad is to march on despite losing my son and no one can “defeat”, deny or argue that as my reality.