by Rick Love
I sat down for a meal with Imam Karim and announced, “I am here to partner with you in your jihad against Islamophobia!” A big smile flashed across his face as he reached out to shake my hand across the table.
But this conversation wasn’t just about my jihad against Islamophobia.
As I explained to Imam Karim, I am on a jihad against all forms of religious discrimination and oppression.
The very same ethical concerns I have for Muslims to experience freedom of worship here in the United States also compels me to speak out against religious discrimination in Muslim majority countries. Jesus’s teaching about “love of neighbor” and the golden rule (“Do to others as you would have them do to you”) constrains me to promote and protect religious freedom for everyone.
I am not a scholar of the Qur’an or the Hadith. But it seems to me that the following verses should motivate Muslims to promote and protect religious freedom for everyone as well:
“There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256)
“Your Islam is not complete until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself” (AlBukhari, Kitab Al-Iman, Hadith no 13)
Some of my Christian readers may not like my use of the word “jihad” to describe my convictions. But I use the word purposely because I want to help Christians better understand Islam. Jihad can refer to a personal spiritual struggle against our evil inclinations, a campaign, or a war (depending on context). But in its most basic sense jihad means to strive against something.
My jihad against Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination is best summarized in the Seven Resolutions Against Prejudice, Hatred and Discrimination: “We stand against all forms of religious persecution against Jews, Christians, Muslims, or anyone else. God desires all people to choose and practice their faith based on conscience and conviction rather than any form of coercion or violence” (Point #5).
I am happy to say that my friends in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) are also engaging in what I call a double-edged jihad. Their “Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign” addresses Islamophobia in the U.S., while their groundbreaking campaign on “Citizenship and the Rights of Minorities in Muslim-Majority Countries” speaks to oppression of other religions.
So where do evangelical Christians stand on this double-edged jihad? The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has an excellent statement on religious freedom. The Grace and Truth Project provides yet another example from a more international perspective.
Far too many Christians and Muslims prefer a “single edged jihad” – one that only focuses on their own community. Christians boldly speak out against persecution of Christians, but few speak out against Islamophobia. Muslims speak out against Islamophobia, but few speak out against persecution of Christians in Muslim countries.
This single-edged jihad is understandable. But it lacks ethical consistency and integrity.
Christians and Muslims, those of other religions, and those with no religion: will you join me in a “double-edged” jihad – one that defends the rights of one’s own community as well as the rights of all communities? This is a peace jihad!