a jihad against jihad...
Using Billboards to Stake Claim Over ‘Jihad’
By STEVEN YACCINO and POH SI TENG
CHICAGO — There is an advertising war being fought here — not over soda or car brands but over the true meaning of the word “jihad.”
Backing a continuing effort that has featured billboards on the sides of Chicago buses, the local chapter of a national Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has been promoting a nonviolent meaning of the word — “to struggle” — that applies to everyday life.
Supporters say jihad is a spiritual concept that has been misused by extremists and inaccurately linked to terrorism, and they are determined to reclaim that definition with the ad campaign, called My Jihad.
“My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule,” says a woman in a head scarf lifting weights in an ad that started running on buses in December. “What’s yours?”
But last month another set of ads, with a far different message, started appearing on buses here.
Mimicking the My Jihad ads, they feature photos and quotations from figures like Osama bin Laden and Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in 2010. “Killing Jews is worship that draws us closer to Allah,” says one ad, attributing the quotation to a Hamas television station. They end with the statement: “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”
As a battle of billboards looms to redefine the word "Jihad" amongst the Muslim in America with softer and/or harder meanings, Gus suggests that the world Jihad should take a massive leap backward in Islamic belief. The idea of "struggle" (Jihad) is too prominent. It is a concept of oppression, of suffering, of aggression and of submission. It is a tool that is used with the effect of suppressing the joy of life, whether intended or not.
The problem of translation has always been one of cultural structures... Words in one culture rarely have a perfect equivalent in another. There can be errors of understanding concept due to these differences. My analysis may suffer from this displacement here, but the possibility of misunderstanding is unavoidable at the interface of cultures...
So should we discuss the "Jihad"? We should despite the pitfalls of translations.
The writing is weird: in the image above, I believe I wrote the word "Jihad"... The second line should read "Love Thy Neighbour"... The third writing is that of "Love"...
According to most Muslims, "Jihad" means "struggle". But "struggle" can mean a lot of things and it is in its association with other ideas that the meaning is refined... Struggling with oneself, struggling with other people, war... It can have also various strength and focus in males and females. Female might see Jihad as a struggle of their submissive selves, in a world ruled by men, while men could see Jihad as a struggle against an enemy, usually "infidels". Jihad (struggle) is thus more associated with pain than contentment...
It's the struggle of one being rejected, of one being tempted, of one being belittled, of one being in a difficult situation in which one does not have the upper hand and one has to fight or do something... I could be wrong (I am wrong) but it appears that with "Jihad" being so prominent in the culture, pain becomes a greater feature in the Islamic philosophy than contentment and/or happiness. Or happiness becomes a sense of retribution as part of inflicting an eye-for-an-eye pain, as part of justice.
In Jihad, pain becomes the reference point of life rather than the joy of living. It tends to foster a victim mentality or that of a ultimate aggressor... which is then complemented with "Insha'Allah"... leaving the outcome to the gods... In some way, there is a parallel acceptance of "woe is me" poetry in this deferment.
Let it be known that everyone has a "struggle"... Even in the western philosophy, some people go and see a psychiatrist to deal with their "problems". Some deal with it by lifting weights...
In the past the catholic church had a similar painful view on the purpose of life — still has to a lesser degree... The struggle for catholics is "thy cross to bear" and/or foinding ways to erase the original sin, a "mistake" that has nothing to do with our present life but only is transmitted and implanted by the memory of the culture. The "struggle" in the catholic church has been mitigated by redemption, confession... and "love" — god's love and "love one another" has been a feature where the "struggle' takes second seat... except with the "guilt".
In "jihad", we struggle on the first line in a philosophical war, and there is a hidden sense of permanent battle between good and evil within the self — god and the devil battle it out in our daily life...
Should I have another cream bun?... God will tell us it's gluttony to have seconds and the devil will tempt us because it's nice. In fact, it's our arteries we should be worried about.
Same with most of what we do... We dismiss nature but nature rules the roost.
In most religious format, this battle is deemed to only be resolved by the death of someone and the ensuing glorification of one's life should one had been "good" and straight on the tally board of the rule book in which "jihad" and its interpretations feature prominently.
In reality we can live our life well and full of goodness, without the "struggle" nor the "guilt" by having ethics that make us aware and responsible of the well-being of others. It is not a struggle against one self or others, it is a hand that helps us and others together.
The struggle only exists because we let it be. We let it take over our lives because we don't know better, because we don't want to know better or we are not allowed to know better.
We reinforce the "struggle" with artificial values that are arcane, are dogmatically erroneous and/or contrary to nature. It weigh us down.
The "struggle" keeps us busy though — as we could believe, should we were not in pain, we may not know that we exist... The "struggle" is a familiar stone in our shoe. But it does not have to be there.
WE can love thy neighbour, without the religious struggle nor the dogma... Seriously.
Some don't find life to be a struggle but something to be cherished no matter what. And this is where humanism comes in.
Too often, the struggle needs something to be blamed, or an enemy... Someone to blame for whatever — whether in the past, the present and the future...
We need to ease up. Muslims need to ease up... and replace their symbol of Jihad (at top) with that of love (below it).