Aiming to “reclaim jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike,” Muslim activists this week announced that their “#My jihad” ad campaign began running Monday in D.C. metro stations. The ads have previously appeared on buses in San Francisco and Chicago.
With a four-week ad buy in the Shaw, Waterfront, Rockville and Dunn Loring Metro stations, organizer Ahmed Rehab, who is also executive director of the Chicago branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says that he is hoping to change the narrative around the word jihad.
“We kind of got tired sitting there watching people tell us what we believe or what we don’t believe.”
The posters feature photos of Muslims sharing their religious struggles, and uses lines like “my jihad is to build bridges through friendship” and “my jihad: modesty is not a weakness.”
Rehab’s Web site, myjihad.org notes, “for Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists (who ironically are on perfect agreement), jihad is synonymous with terrorism, blowing up things, and spilling innocent blood.” The site adds “For many others, including members of the media and academia and even some Western dictionaries, jihad is often mistranslated simply as ‘holy war.’”
Instead, read a statement on the campaign, activists hope to highlight the concept as it is lived by ordinary Muslims: “Jihad is a central tenet of the Islamic creed which means struggling uphill in order to get to a better place.”
Rehab also is inviting Muslims to tweet using the hashtag #myjihad to explain how jihad shapes their lived spirituality. As if to prove his point, the hashtag has been flooded with tweets from anti-Muslim activists pointing to accounts of violence perpetrated by violent Islamic extremists.
The additional three ads being run in dioramas, the back-lit displays in Washington areas Metro stations, are below.