A month after an ultra conservative group plastered controversial “Defeat Jihad” ads on 10 CTA buses and likened Muslims to “savages,” a local Muslim group countered back with a campaign to “reclaim Islam” and educate the country about the true meaning of the word “Jihad.”
Through CTA bus and train ads and a social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, participants are being asked to express what their Jihad is with the hashtag #MyJihad.
By Friday morning, more than 3,000 users had “liked” the campaign’s Facebook page. And on Twitter, thousands have posted what their “struggle” or Jihad is.
“#myjihad Is to have the serenity to accept things I can’t change. The courage to change the things I can, & the wisdom to know the difference,” a man in Saudi Arabia Tweeted.
Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago, and creator of the campaign, said the goal is to explain the very misunderstood and sometimes seemingly controversial concept of Jihad.
“Jihad in Islam simply means the struggle to a better place,” Rehab said. “Whatever barrier or burdens that you have in your life, you are asked, you are tasked to muster in the inner courage, the inner resolve, the inner determination to overcome those personal barriers, personal issues.”
He said the word has been misconstrued by Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists and it’s time to re-educate the public about Islam and its concepts. Often the term “Jihad” is associated with violence and those waging “holy war.”
“The only two things that God judges you by in the tradition of Islam are the two things that you control, your intentions and your effort,” Rehab said. “Your intention being sincere and your effort being for the best. That effort is Jihad.”
Naperville mom Angie Emara is featured in one of the ads with her children. She said her Jihad is getting over the loss of her son, and also raising another son with special needs.
“For me it’s personal. I don’t want my kids to grow up in an environment where they’re immediately rendered suspect for nothing of their doing,” Emara said. “…My Jihad is an ongoing struggle…My Jihad is to hold back the tears when I see my son live past Adam’s years and do things he never could. My Jihad is to push forward past the grief, past the second guessing.”
CAIR-Chicago’s campaign, in part, was spurred by the anti-Muslim ads that turned up on CTA buses last month. The ads, financed by conservative blogger Pamela Geller and her organization American Freedom Defense Initiative, have caused controversy — and some legal challenges — in Detroit, New York City and Washington D.C.
“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad,” the ad reads.
The #MyJihad effort is staffed by CAIR volunteers, and the group paid for the CTA ads. But part of the campaign is aimed at seeking sponsors. For $500, a group can sponsor a bus. The group’s goal is to have enough sponsors so that the campaign can reach New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Seattle and Houston.