Monique Parsons, Huffington Post, Feb.3
Angie Emara’s son, Adam, was just 4 years old when he died from complications of Hunter’s Syndrome in 2009. Every day since, Emara, 35, of Naperville, Ill., has struggled with a painful and private grief.
In December, she took her heartbreak public — to the side of a city bus, to be exact. Cuddling with her three grinning children, her youngest clutching a photograph of little Adam, the ad reads: “#MyJihad is to march on despite losing my son. What’s yours?”
It is one of five that appeared on the side of 25 Chicago Transit Authority buses last December and debuted in Washington, D.C., subway stations on Jan. 28.
Emara and her moving story are part of a Chicago-based campaign known as #MyJihad, an effort to insert a broader, and more nuanced, definition of “jihad” into the public discourse. The Arabic term, often mistranslated as “holy war” or narrowly defined as religiously justified warfare, is at its root actually a synonym for “struggle” or “striving.”
“When confronted with the easy path and the right path, it’s choosing the right path over the easy path,” said campaign founder Ahmed Rehab of Chicago. “It’s a very positive term, one that I want to embrace and not run away from. I believe it means a struggle to get to a better place. It does not mean for me, nor for those whose practice is like mine daily, to pick up a gun and shoot someone.”
Rehab, the Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, conceived of the idea last fall after hearing that controversial advertisements using the term “jihad” were slated for New York and Washington, D.C. subways, and Chicago city buses and transit stations.
Rehab said he was startled by how many people, Muslims and non-Muslims, accepted that “jihad” was an inherently violent term. He bristled at the fact that Islamic extremists, as well as those who denounce Islam, both claim to define the term for the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.