Jihad is a term of great and positive significance in Islam. It is commonly defined as striving or struggle, and can mean an internal or external struggle for faith. But that’s not how they see it as in the West.
As a society they have warped the meaning of the term away from its Qur’anic roots, accepting a definition of the practice put forth by the terror groups they seek to combat. Instead of resisting the extremist ideology, they have embraced it. And by ignoring the complexities and the obligations of jihad — and, by extension, Islam — they are doing nothing more than validating a perverted religious interpretation, echoing it throughout their society, and accepting it as the truth.

It concludes with the formulation of a society that has institutionalized Islamophobia in its culture and politics, normalizing hate crimes such as the 2010 destruction of a Nashville mosque, which took place in the wake of a startling local news broadcast that indicated without any real evidence that the Muslim community of Dover, Tennessee was a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda.

How exactly does their misuse of the word ‘jihad’ validate terrorist ideology and lead to hate crimes?

The term “jihad,” which translates to “strive” or “struggle,” is used in the Qur’an 41 times. For the most part, these verses call on Muslims to engage in what is known as the “greater jihad,” a constant inner struggle to better oneself and live in the manner prescribed by the Almighty.

Jihad has an external element as well. This is the where fear-mongering pundits like to define jihad in its entirety. Either way, their message is clear — Islam is out to get you, Westerners, so you better watch out.

In the Qur’an proscription against aggression is repeated throughout, sanctioning self-defense but stopping way short of condoning any sort of antagonistic behavior. Therefore, we see a jihad that requires a defense of Islam but emphatically forbids belligerence of any kind.

Of course, this is not the interpretation that everyone chooses to accept. The Qur’an can be interpreted in radically different ways and manipulated to suit the preordained desires of the reader.

Despite this, the image of both Islam and jihad that is transmitted to the Western public focuses exclusively on the most extreme interpretations of the religion. It ignores complexities and encourages  ignorance and paranoia. It comes as no surprise then that shoe companies would produce shoes with the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) engraved upon them or that New York City subways would advertise ads that connected Jihad to violence and terror.
Across the world Muslims have to “reclaim Islam” from the grips of the terrorists who have hijacked the Western public’s perception of the religion.

The consequences of such misinterpretations are dire. Not only has the media legitimized these extremist ideas as accurate interpretations of the Qur’an, it has associated Al-Qaeda with jihad and the Taliban with Islam. In other words, through this distortion Americans have come to see the “enemy” as Islam just as much as they see it as any specific terrorist organization, creating a culture of Islamophobia that harms Muslims in the West and threatens Western values at their very core. They must know that Al Qaeda and its allies are not jihadists but renegades.

Rectifying this is essential. A positive image of Islam is not somehow going soft on terrorism. Nor is it overblown political correctness. For most who practice the religion, it is simply the truth. It’s time to awaken the Sleeping Beauties in the Western leaderships and media and make them see the truth which to them will be inevitable since it presents their self-made foe as a friend.


By: Fatima Arshad


  1. @fresh I don’t understand what is your point? we don’t need america or america does not need us….this is not the point…….point is including america everybody needs to face the reality……that is it

  2. @sammy it is not being russian or american, islamist or secular, liberal or conservative one need to bring truth to the masses so that the ready-made mis-perceptions designed by evil agenda of evil powers

    • I beg to differ too. America is indeed the WORST example of humanity and justice (if those words even exist in the vocabulary of ur nation’s leaders). I would like to see where u showed humanity or justice outside ur state.
      When ur soldiers filled Osama Bin Laden’s body with a hundred bullets with each soldier firing “several rounds” as they themselves stated? Was that in the name of humanity and justice?
      When American soldiers are at the top of the ladder in shooting civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? In the name of justice and humanity?
      When Americans show intolerance towards Islam and constantly track Muslims within it and allow shoes with the name of the most noble personality in Islam to be sold? Is that for the sake of humanity and justice?
      When America is the most racist country? In the name of justice and humanity I presume.

      Would you care to answer a question?
      What exactly are your definitions of the words “justice” and “humanity”?

      • Dear Fatima,
        America, possibly since its inception has been carrying on a very oppressive jihad against the various peoples of this globe and within America too… Her methods are cold, brutal and unforgiving. Now with globalization all other nations are coerced into this brutality and other nations are forced to play cops-and-robbers just like America and sacrifice their national soul just like America has…merely to survive. Pakistan as a country was just another bit player on this stage and now the challenge is to wake up as individual and connected human beings..to the greater “forces” holding the world together…ie: our common need to humanize the world economy and model nonviolence and growth and give all of our children a better chance than we had. We need to reach out and find one another as human beings any way we can.We can find our own power to make a better life for now and our children. As ordinary people we can discover what gives power to us all. Maybe the old concept of jihad is on its way out because the new jihad can include us all, and will have nothing to do with being defensive but everything to do with forgetting what the rich and powerful think we should want and instead concentrating on taking care of ourselves and each other and all the struggling life in this stressed-out world. We just have to trust that we are the real thing and these “forces” that seem so out of our control…maybe shouldn’t have the last word. If we know we must give ourselves the power that we seem to have given over to the ultra-divisive maneuver called “separating-ourselves-out-from-the rest”, then we have a chance of finding a way out of this. The attack-and retaliate mentality has to morph into something that transcends into something more real, something that includes us all. Something like a deep exploration into the forces that conspire to blind us to our intra-dependent humanity and world. Its time to wake up and move on! It’s time to become a world of human beings who know how fragile this planet is and how threatened is survival for all when sectarianism and cultural schizophrenia prevail. We have to remember that if it’s global “power” we end up all being sacrificed to, then none of us will have a better world to aspire to and nothing more to say about healing the terrifying wounds in our present one. It will be too late.

    • Carpet bombing Iraq to kill Saddam’s army who had shelter under the bankers and killing thousands of innocent people is called humanity??!!!!! I will request the Ox-ward dictionary to change the meaning of Humanity.
      Your country is responsible for officially training and arming all the terrorist elements in the world and then blaming others for it, & in the name of regime change massacring the innocent civilians who have nothing to do with your dirty politics. OPEN YOUR EYES AND SEE WITH YOUR BRAINS.

  3. U’ve hit the nail! srsly join the foreign services of pakistan and i’m sure that once u do so no one will be more able to look america in the eye better thn u!!
    God bless u sister!

  4. yes Fatima you are absolutely right jihad has been hijacked but have you ever tried to discover the main reason why this happened.when people attack on mosque,church, imambargah and schools and the group behind all this call themselves muslims and jihadis, then what kind of message will go to western people although behind all this western leadership stands ,so first of all we have to condemned them as a nation and have to portray real picture of islam and this can not be done until unless leaders of muslim world refuse to take dictation from western leader.when we become true muslim then automatically islam phobia factor eliminate from western people. Fatima keep it up when people like you come out to a forum for defend and portray the real face of islam and jihad it will help out western people to come out from islam phobia.

    • When someone does not want to accept the truth, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many facts you shove in front of their faces, they will not accept it. It’s them being blinded. A thought, a belief it is that’s been infected in their very existence. Only a handful will accept the truth.

  5. To Isabella Ahmed:
    u have no right 2 say that! We Americans r proud for who we are! And as to the bloggist who wrote this……I hope Americans find her and punish her for portryaing so inhumane!

    • @Dorothy, my country has numerous flaws, our leaders make decisions that we feel ashamed of yet when it comes to facing the truth we do so happily. Maybe you should try that too. I am not portraying America as inhumane, I don’t steep so low. I am merely stating facts. Can you deny anything I’ve written?

      I do not say that all Americans are bad, every community has its dark sides. Though the American “extremist” community has taken it a step too far. It’s not just America that does so though, it’s other countries in the West too.

      Dear Americans, take a leaf out of our book and talk only with facts.
      To change the ugly truth you shall first confront it.

  6. Excellent article!!
    As a side note, common people in west are definitely intoxicated by the media. But folks running the media as well as political leadership is well aware of the facts stated in the article. They wouldn’t want to pay political price by confessing or confronting the propaganda in the media.

    It all starts from our own home (country) where we need to bring the socioeconomic change driven by the divine ideology.

  7. Fatima is wonderful and courageous writer. She has touched a very sensitive topic. It is time to speak up and invite world to understand Islam and its teaching in true spirit.Keep moving with sense of responsibility

  8. just like the way they changed the meaning of the word Jihad, the american community has also done similar actions with other Islamic terms thus creating an atmosphere of “Islamophobia” just like you mentioned. Good Job! 😀

  9. I think this is the real problem that we don’t portray the true spirit and meanings of Jihad and our enemies exploit this and create misconception for the global masses using modern media tolls