On Islam: 'My Jihad' to Canada to defeat Islamophobes

CAIRO – Breaking barriers and borders, an American Muslim campaign has crossed into Canada to introduce the true meaning of Jihad and help dispel fears promoted by Islamophobes about Muslims and their faith.

“These negative feelings toward Islam often come from ignorant viewpoints,” Bayan Khatib, a Toronto settlement worker and Syrian Revolution activist, told Vancouver Observer.

“I find that people with a well-rounded education are less likely to foster hostile feelings towards others who are different from them.

“Also, contributing to Islamophobia is the media’s negative representation of Islam and it’s constant connection to terrorism.”

The #MyJihad campaign was first launched by the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) in December.

It aims to explain the true and proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims.

Along with the official MyJihad website, the campaign includes putting up public ads on buses and trains, as well as a social media component on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, where users are asked to tweet what their Jihad (struggle) is using the #MyJihad hashtag.

The idea of the campaign, which is championed by Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, has quickly gained a following of people of all denominations.

Khatib believes that the campaign will help dispel fears promoted by Islamophobes in Canada.

“Canada is generally a multi-cultural country with people of various religions and cultures living together peacefully, and so Islamophobia is not a huge problem,” she said.

“However, it does exist.”

Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north-American country.

A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.

Online Jihad

The campaign to explain the true meaning of Jihad has gone viral on the internet social networks.

“Until now, we were silent and they had free reign. But we never bother to dignify their lies with direct responses,” Angie Emara, #MyJihad Campaign Volunteer and the mother featured on the bus ad, said.

“We simply keep presenting the facts and truth and let people choose between us and hate.”

The campaign has a Facebook following of more than 6,000 and a feverish Twitter campaign that is seemingly non-stop.

Twitter users are also using the hashtag #MyJihad to express their personal struggles, facts about Islam and Muslims, favorite quotes and personal goals and dreams.

Yet, the hashtag has been also flooded with opposition.

“The increased hate means we are doing something right,” Emara said.

Moving further, the campaign started its YouTube channel, MyJihadTv, where the latest video has gone viral.

The video entitled, “#MyJihad: This Video Will Renew Your Faith in Humanity,” features an Imam in Egypt offering a moving speech at an Egyptian church on Christmas.

Jihad is often stereotyped by Western media as meaning “holy war”.

But Muslim scholars have repeatedly affirmed that the word Jihad, which is mentioned in the Noble Qur’an, means “struggle” to do good and to remove injustice, oppression and evil from society.

Karen Armstrong, the prominent and prolific British writer on all three monotheistic religions, has criticized stereotyping the Arabic word “jihad” as merely meaning holy war.