A Muslim activist is under attack because her critics don't know what "jihad" actually means

Jihad means "to struggle," but conservatives didn't recognize that when they expressed outrage over Sarsour's speec

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 7, 2017 2:23PM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams, File)
(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams, File)

Conservatives are lashing out at Muslim activist Linda Sarsour because they don't understand what the word "jihad" means.

In a speech before the Islamic Society of North America last weekend, Sarsour discussed standing up to President Donald Trump as a form of "jihad." according to Time. "Jihad" means "to struggle," not to declare war on.

After quoting Mohammad as saying that "a word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad," Sarsour went on to argue, "I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad."

She then added that socially conscious Muslims "are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or the other side of the world, but here in the United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House."

As a result of this speech, Sarsour has been attacked for promoting violence by publications like Conservative Review and Breitbart. In the latter, an article acknowledged that "the context of Sarsour’s remarks indicate that she meant a jihad using words" before drawing attention to how Islamist terrorists have used it with a more violent connotation.

Not surprisingly, Sarsour has taken to Twitter to speak out against the unfair characterization of her speech.

Sarsour made headlines earlier this year for criticizing Zionists. Her argument was that you cannot be both a Zionist and a feminist.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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