By Jessica Charles ‘17
Many Muslims have been targets of recent hate crimes from ignorant strangers as a result of the latest massacres in California and Paris. Although the NYPD has emphasized their support to Muslims communities, this doesn’t put an end to the constant judgment and criticism Islam is receiving.
With the help of the media and terror groups like ISIS throughout the year, many of us have been tricked into believing the term ‘jihad’ represents something malicious. Since the media continues to fill our heads with harmful lies, let’s take a step back and think for ourselves for just a few minutes.
According to the article Jihad: A Misunderstood Concept from Islam by Shaykh Kabbani and Shaykh Hendricks on islamicsupremecouncil.org, Jihad is an Arabic word that translates to “struggling in the way of God.” It represents a Muslim’s efforts, both internal and external, to be a pure believer and to overcome all the evil that exists in the world. It is an aspect that presents itself in many forms, such as jihad of the heart and jihad of the hand. Jihad of the heart consists of a Muslim’s inner struggle to choose good instead of evil and not lose sight of their faith; this usually includes refraining from lust and anger. Jihad of the hand means doing what is right and taking action against injustice, which includes giving charity to the needy. All of this shows the concept of jihad is not only about a person striving to make life better, but is also about helping others.
Jihad contains all these positive aspects, which ISIS uses to their advantage. This extremist group is constantly carrying out massacres and later whipping up a video justifying their gruesome actions, saying it was jihad and done in the name of Allah. To make matters worse, they even call themselves jihadis. This is definitely not what they represent, however, because jihad is a peaceful aspect and what ISIS does is far from peaceful. ISIS has taken the term and manipulated its definition into the complete opposite of what it is. The major problem is that people take the bait and base their opinion of jihad on what these killers say. Since when were the words of terrorists credible? None of their actions represent what Islam or jihad truly is.
What’s even worse is the way the media quietly encourages people to misconceive the term jihad. Whenever there’s news on the television regarding ISIS, the networks never fail to show the massive guns and bombs that are in their possession or the threatening videos they create. The media fills people’s heads with lots of sensational images, however, they always seem to forget to inform us of the true meaning behind the term jihad. This essentially helps people believe that the term jihad is something dangerous and violent because whenever they think of the word, they associate it with those threatening images. The media has a dark side and can play a major role in misinforming and deceiving people.
Despite all this, however, it all comes down to us. We must learn to question things more and not just believe the information we get from the media. We owe it to ourselves to take our education into our own hands because sometimes that’s the only way of finding out the complete truth. Also, it is important that we confront these misconceptions and not be afraid to correct someone if they say something that’s false about a subject.