(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/7/17) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on people of all faiths and backgrounds to “push back” against an online smear campaign targeting Linda Sarsour — a nationally-known and respected Muslim community activist — using #IStandWithLinda.
Sarsour, who was an organizer of the post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington, has been targeted by right-wing and Islamophobic extremists in a manufactured “controversy” over remarks referencing “jihad” she made recently at a national Islamic convention in Illinois.
In that speech, Sarsour related the well-known Islamic tradition (hadith) about a person who asked Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, “What is the best form of jihad, or struggle?” Sarsour quoted the Prophet Muhammad, who said the best “jihad” is “a word of truth” to an unjust ruler.
[NOTE: There are actually different versions of the same hadith, including: (1) The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The best (Jihad) is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler.” Sunan of Abu-Dawood (2) The Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What is the best type of Jihad.” He answered: “Speaking truth before a tyrannical ruler.” Riyadh us-Saleheen]
As the Washington Post noted in an article about this manufactured controversy: “Jihad is a central concept in Islam, and the Arabic word literally translates as ”˜struggle’ or ”˜striving.’ While the word is indeed used by some to refer to a physical military struggle to defend Islam, most Muslims use it to refer to a personal, spiritual effort to follow God, live out one’s faith and strive to be a better person.”
In a statement, CAIR Board Chair Roula Allouch said:
“This manufactured ”˜controversy’ targeting Linda Sarsour, one of the American Muslim community’s most respected activists and leaders, demonstrates once again that Islamophobes will use falsehoods and distortions in an attempt to marginalize and delegitimize Muslims who gain national prominence or influence.
“Islamophobes first distort and hijack mainstream Islamic terms such as ”˜jihad,’ then exploit the distortions they have created to target Muslim leaders. These smear campaigns have very real and negative consequences for the safety of those targeted and for the security of our nation, which is harmed by such divisive and un-American tactics.
“We urge Americans of all faiths and backgrounds to push back against this campaign of hate and defamation using #IStandWithLinda.”
The Washington-based civil rights organization recently launched an app to share critical “know your rights” information and simplify the process to report hate crimes and bias incidents. CAIR is urging Muslims to download the app and utilize this resource to stay informed and empowered.
For a quick download of CAIR’s civil rights app, click here: http://www.cair.com/app
Community members may also report bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/report
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, fomentar el diÃ¡logo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensiÃ³n mutua.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org