Topics that dominate the representation of Muslims in the British media today are “women” and “extremism”. As Qantara reports, though, Sara Khan, Director of Inspire, and award-winning British Muslim consultancy, claims that “Muslim women feel that these topics are inadequately addressed by Muslims themselves”. Therefore, two British organizations have decided to take action against the ways in which extremists are causing conflict by claiming to speak and act in the name of God.
Sara Khan argues that the word “Jihad” urgently needs to be reclaimed from extremists, as it is “a core principle in Islamic teaching that encourages Muslims to strive and struggle for a just cause”. In partnership with the Global Muslim Women’s Shura Council, Inspire launched the Jihad Against Violence campaign this summer to empower Muslim women “to reclaim the mantle of cultural, intellectual and moral legitimacy as equal citizens and contributors of society”; this can support them in creating cohesive societies and fighting extremism.
According to Qantara, Jihad Against Violence also encourages “women and men to stand up to all forms of violence, to educate and raise awareness, and to challenge those who perversely use Islam to incite or carry out aggression”. As demonstrated at a conference in London in June 2011, Inspire is generally interested in challenging dominant conservative views on gender and strives to provide a more contextualized understanding of women. They will soon be launching other projects as part of Jihad Against Violence, including the provision of detailed resources online, trainings in mosques and awareness-raising campaigns.