The Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) Chicago chapter has launched a website and ad campaign aimed at convincing Americans that the term jihad only refers to a spiritual struggle and has no violent connotations.
"MyJihad is a public education campaign that seeks to share the proper meaning of Jihad as believed and practiced by the majority of Muslims," the MyJihad website says.
The group says the term has been "widely misrepresented" by the actions of Muslim extremists and by "Islamophobes" who claim that most Muslims are wrong.
"We are taking ownership of our faith and taking it back from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists, which both have hijacked the conversation, one through bloody actions and the other extreme rhetoric," Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago told The Christian Science Monitor.
It's a curious campaign from a group whose officials have established a long history of rationalizing jihadist violence and refusing to condemn jihadist groups such as Hizballah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
CAIR has stood by people convicted of helping jihadist groups abroad, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian and former Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra, though both had documented records of advocating violent jihad. See Damra here and Al-Arian here.
Ignoring this history, the MyJihad website says that "Jihad is more about peace and education than anything else" and says that it involves "confronting our weaknesses, vices and shortcomings."
The site features several videos including one titled "The Savages" Respond: My Jihad Ad Campaign, which depicts several young Muslim men and women wearing hijabs set against title cards saying "My Jihad is a photo shoot" or "My Jihad is a free Syria."
Similar messages appear as advertisements on buses in Chicago.
The site relies heavily on the opinions of Sufis, who stand almost alone in global Islam in rejecting the concept of violent jihad and who comprise 20 percent of the world's Muslims, and pacifist Ahmadiyyas to convey their message.
The Ahmadiyyas stand for the peaceful propagation of Islam and are regarded as heretics or fakes by many Muslims around the world.
Examples of this include a video on the site a lecture by Sufi Imam Habib Ali Al-Jufri discussing jihad as a peaceful struggle. Other articles posted feature an Al-Azhar-endorsed fatwa on terrorism written by Sufi scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and another, "The Spiritual Significance of Jihad," by Sufi scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
There is one article featured, Ahmadiyya Muslim Qasim Rashid's "Muhammad's Rules of War," which clearly criticizes "Hamas rocket attacks and PIJ terrorist attacks." That's something CAIR's leaders have been unwilling to do themselves.