Muslim activists are seeking to share the proper meaning of the word “jihad” through a public education campaign in Washington, D.C., where they are posting advertisements depicting the personal struggles held by mainstream Muslims, accompanied by the term “#MyJihad.”
According to the campaign’s website, myjihad.org, the meaning of the word “Jihad” as believed by the majority of Muslims is “a central tenet of the Islamic creed which means ‘struggling in the way of God.'”
“The way of God, being goodness, justice, passion, compassion […] not forcible conversion as wrongly claimed by some,” the website explains.
As the campaign’s organizer Ahmed Rehab, also the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago, told The Washington Post, the purpose of the campaign is to change the narrative around the word jihad.
The advertisements posted Monday, Jan. 28, in five of D.C.’s metro stations attempt to communicate that mainstream Muslims define jihad as a personal religious struggle, and distance the word from its popular ties to terrorism, or what the group says is a mistranslation to mean “holy war.”
The advertisements in D.C. include such images as a woman posing with her family and the caption, “My Jihad is to march on despite losing my son.”
Another ad shows a woman modestly covered in an Islamic headscarf and long-sleeved shirt with the caption “My Jihad: Modesty is not a weakness.”
In addition to the subway ads, which have been previously posted in San Francisco and Chicago, the organization is also forming a Twitter campaign, encouraging those in support of the cause to tweet their personal religious struggle with the tag “#myjihad.”
The #myjihad campaign is facing criticism on Twitter by those who contest the meaning of the word.
One such opponent to the campaign is Pamela Geller, a conservative blogger and executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which sponsored anti-jihad subway advertisements in New York City and San Francisco in September 2012.
Geller’s advertisements decried the word “jihad,” as it is interpreted as meaning “holy war,” and urged viewers to support Israel.”In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad,” read the advertisement.
Geller is now contesting the #myjihad campaign, taking to her Twitter to refer to the campaign as an example of “Islamist Supremacism [sic],” as well as refering to Muslims as “savages.”
The #myjihad campaign will run in Washington D.C. for the next four weeks, and is reportedly seeking to extend the advertisements to more cities in the U.S.