Following the lead of the always reliable Daily Mail, Jezebel recently published a post declaring how awful it is to call your child “Jihad,” suggesting that this is tantamount to naming a child “Hitler.”
Cassie Murdoch starts by drawing a parallel to the story of a New Jersey couple that named two of their children Adolf Hitler Campbell and JoceLynn Aryan National Campbell. Murdoch links this case and with a Daily Mail story about a woman who named her baby Jihad, a word that Murdoch defines as a “religious war all followers are to wage against non-believers.” Murdoch’s quick-fire definition is not only inaccurate, it reeks of ignorance, and let’s face it: it’s just plain lazy.
Jihad is a word that many Muslims have wrestled with over the past ten years. It’s been misinterpreted, twisted, re-adjusted and scrutinised, and sometimes I get sicker of looking at those five letters than I am of the word hijab. Let us take a step back and regurgitate the first lesson from Not-All-Muslims-Are-Terrorists-101: jihad means struggle and not really the carnal holy war fantasy that keeps Pamela Geller aroused and awake at night. That isn’t to say that it cannot be used to describe something violent, but that it is complex and contested, much like any other religious word or figure. If you would like to beat a dead horse on the definition of jihad, please click here, or I don’t know: research any conversation about Islam in the past ten years.
While I believe that it is important to be critical of Islam and any other religious institution, scrutiny through the lens of stereotypes is not a very good start, and I am disappointed to see a website that I held in such high regard perpetuate such stereotypes. Put down the Islamophobic sippy cups, Jezebel; a slow news day is never an excuse for pointless sensationalism.