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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 03:50 PM

Can “jihad” be rebranded?

It's an uphill fight, but Muslim activists are trying to reclaim a holy word that's become synonymous with terror

By Alex Seitz-Wald

MyJihad.org bus ad featuring two volunteers, an American-Muslim and an Israeli-Jew. (Credit: MyJihad.org)

So you want to rebrand a word. It’s hard to think of a more difficult rebranding project than “jihad.”

Since Sept. 11, the term has become synonymous with terrorism and villainy — but now a group of Muslims is trying to reclaim the word from the extremists, and redefine “jihad” to mean something normal and peaceful and good. They realize this won’t be easy.

The campaign hinges on the idea that “jihad” has two commonly accepted usages. One is the violent, physical struggle most of us are familiar with. The other, which many Muslims and Islamic scholars consider the more correct definition, refers to the inner struggle to do good and follow God’s teaching; Muslims strive to attain this every day. This is the “proper meaning” being promoted by My Jihad, a public education campaign recently launched on billboards and on buses in Chicago.

One would think that My Jihad is exactly the kind of moderate Muslim voice that Geller — who claims to be so threatened by Muslim “extremists” — would want to promote. But in reality, “the extremists on both sides need each other for validation. And we’re a threat to both,” Rehab said

Rehab and his compatriots realize it will be difficult to change the meaning of “jihad,” but he’s hoping the campaign will at least “start a conversation” about a concept that is critical to the practice of Islam, yet completely misunderstood. The same could be said about Islam more generally in the West. The religion, omnipresent in pop culture and foreign policy debates, is still mysterious to so many Americans and its popular image too often dictated by the extremists, and not its everyday adherents. If nothing else, the fact that Geller feels threatened shows they’re doing something right.


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Reply Can “jihad” be rebranded? (Original post)
Douglas Carpenter Jan 2013 OP
patrice Jan 2013 #1
onehandle Jan 2013 #2

Response to Douglas Carpenter (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 03:54 PM

1. I think that's a very useful effort, but I can't think of another word that conveys the sense

of it: reality check? self evaluation? examination of conscience? . . . ??

I like Paulo Freire's use of the term "praxis", but, like jihad, that's too specialized.

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Response to Douglas Carpenter (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:00 PM

2. Possibly, because most people probably have no idea what a jihad is. nt

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