JANUARY 4, 2013 BY DENNIS TEALL-FLEMING
My Jihad is a great attempt at taking this central concept of Islam back from the violent nutjobs.
From me to the Pope to our own Pentagon, everyone’s been trying to get our society to really understand what jihad really means (which is a jihad in itself). My Jihad is trying to help with this as well. I like what this org has to say right outta the gate on its “About” page:
“Jihad is a term that has unfortunately been widely misrepresented due to: a) first and foremost, the actions of Muslim extremists; b) attempts at public indoctrination by Islamophobes who claim that the extremists are right and the rest of us are wrong; c) a selective media that understandably focuses on the sensational.”
It’s an acknowledgement here by Muslim neighbors that the first thing that needs to be addressed is that fellow Muslims misuse this concept, one that is at the heart of all Muslims’ religious, spiritual, and moral lives, in order to achieve their own goals.
My Jihad is a great attempt at putting out there a more authentic understanding of every Muslim’s struggle to live their faith and take this central concept of Islam back from the violent nutjobs. “Struggle,” by the way, is the literal meaning of this word in Arabic. There’s nothing implicit in jihad that means anything close to “holy war” (a Christian concept) or anything like wholesale, unfettered, Daisy Cutter-drone missile violence against opponents (a tried and true American military tactic for 250 years).
The fault of non-Muslims, then, lies in letting the non-Muslim nutjobs take this misunderstanding of jihad and make it the meaning for every other Muslim in the world. Orgs like Jihad Watch and “scholars” like Robert Spencer do this all too well, make a lot of money doing so, and wreak social havoc wherever they go talking about it. (Witness what’s been going on in my own hometown over this, as so-called “experts” on Islam are invited into Mansfield to speak on jihad, instead of simply asking people that actually live in Mansfield to teach their own neighbors about it.)
Compare this to perceiving all Christians to be like, well, let’s use one of the most egregious Christian examples, Westboro Baptist Church (hey Rev. Phelps, if God hates fags, She also hates shrimp!). Wow, if that’s Christianity, then I’m certainly not Christian.
The analogy holds up: if all Muslims need to live jihad the way al-Qaeda and President Ahmadinejad understand it — the way Jihad Watch and Mr. Spencer claim jihad should be understood — well then, about 1.5 billion of the assumed 1.57 billion people out there that call themselves Muslim aren’t really, either.
While there are great academic takes on the real meaning of jihad, which describe how — when Jihad becomes necessary as far as violence permitted against others is a legitimate response and a morally permissible act — it has a lot of similarity to the “Just War” theories we find in all other religious traditions. (One of my new favorite takes online is a site one of my USCU students found last semester, QuranAndWar.com.).
My Jihad makes it much more simple for ya: it just asks for people to post what jihad means for them in their daily lives. I just love scrolling through the tweets My Jihad has generated. Just be ready to hold your nose (and your lunch) through some of the trollish tweets that have nothing to do with actually trying to live authentic, daily jihad! Here are some that just rock:
Okay new intentions. #MyJihad for this month is to study harder and keep my prayers on time. Starting tomorrow.
#MyJihad is to follow the moderate middle course amidst the preachers of extremism.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something & #MyJihad is to do that something as best as I can!
#MyJihad is to speak louder than the hate, to drown it out.
Oh yeah! That last one especially rocks, and he’s not even Muslim (although one response he got from his tweet is “your [sic] a good person”). OK, that was my tweet (@teallfleming).
My Jihad does in 25 tweets what I’ve been trying to do for 25 years: “struggle” to understand what will be the largest world religion by the end of this century, as it’s being and becoming understood by those that live it.
I know that Allah (the Arabic word for “God,” which all Muslims and Christians and anyone else who speaks Arabic, call God) is smiling on their … our … efforts. I hope you can join us in them.
So, wait a minute, how do you? Make sure to tweet that #myjihad, when you get a chance!
Published in In Good Faith