Friday, September 7, 2012

"Why are you calling your novel JIHAD COMIX?"

For three reasons. First, because the word "Jihad" has been appropriated by the mainstream US media to mean something far removed from the dimensions the word is supposed to occupy within Islamic practice. If you ask 100 non-Muslims what Jihad means, 95 of them will give an answer that doesn't include the dimension of, say, striving to complete your prayers on time, or striving to complete your fast during Ramadan. Not only that, but the part they offer about violent striving has nothing to do with Islamic rules of war. This warped understanding of Jihad is often the FIRST thing people in America think of when they think of Islam. ("Are you a typical Muslim? I mean, do you believe in killing civilians?" Sigh. No.) 

When we have this kind of systemic and constantly reinforced misunderstanding, I think we are in grave danger of using language as a political weapon against a particular religious minority. Whenever it becomes obvious that the country as a whole is using language that way, it's much better to think of what the mainstream culture is doing to define your religion as a parody of your religion than as the reality. Translation: "If that's what you think Jihad means, you have got to be joking. In fact, let's assume you are joking. Otherwise, this is offensive."

Second, because a lot of people fall into the trap of striving for the wrong thing with the wrong intention. When we do that, and I speak to myself first who needs the advice most, we make a travesty of Islam. Translation: "Your Jihad is on backwards, and you are making God's religion a joke, but the joke is on you."

Third, because I thought it sounded cool.