Words matter in the battle against radical Islam. As Raymond Ibrahim explains, "In the war on terror, to acquire accurate knowledge — which is pivotal to victory — we need to begin with accurate language." And nowhere is accuracy more wanting than in discussions of jihad.
While the term does translate to "struggle," Ibrahim notes that each school of Islamic jurisprudence emphasizes the military aspect of struggling in the path of Allah (i.e., jihad as holy war). Yet PC-addled "experts" continue to insist that jihad is a purely benign endeavor, more spiritual self-improvement than al-Qaeda-style self-immolation (and infidel-immolation). Below are three recently highlighted examples that fail the giggle test.
First, a September 28 article in the Buffalo News recounts a women-only meeting held by a local Muslim group, wherein moderator Shanaz Butt lamented the many "misconceptions about Islam," including jihad. According to Butt:
A student trying to pass an exam is a jihadist. A mother raising her children is a jihadist. The people in the seminar are all jihadists because we are striving.
Second, Diana West dug up a three-year-old story about Omer Bajwa, Yale University's "coordinator of Muslim life," who made a scene during a recent campus appearance by Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, famous for his "explosive" caricature of Muhammad. As the Cornell Chronicle reported on February 28, 2006, regarding a talk by Bajwa:
"I can say definitively for you today that jihad does not mean holy war," Bajwa said. Literally translated, it means "exertion" or "struggle," and, according to Bajwa, could just as easily be used to describe studying for a difficult exam or an inner spiritual struggle as struggling for justice.
Third, Cambridge University has published Contextualising Islam in Britain, a report by more than two dozen "Muslim scholars, academics, and activists" exploring "the philosophical and theological perspectives on what it means to be a Muslim in Britain today." From start to finish, the document is a whitewash of all things Islamic, as demonstrated by this passage on page 14:
Jihad in its true sense is a key part of active citizenship. It means a positive ethical struggle: for example, striving for social justice, fighting against poverty, or making efforts to reform oneself.
There you have it: jihad is nothing more than a student laboring to pass algebra, a mom driving her kids to soccer practice, or, in the words of the Cambridge study, a civic-minded person engaged in "lobbying, activism, and writing" — a community organizer of sorts.
Why Islamists peddle such specious definitions should be clear. More baffling and disturbing is why they gain traction among so many Westerners.