Haider Mithani walked up to a passerby at Bandra station who was rushing to catch the Borivli fast and asked him if he knew what jihad really meant.
The 21-year-old engineering student decided to take out time from his books to volunteer for a campaign aimed at clearing the misconceptions about Islam after the November 26 terror attacks in the city. He has a pamphlet that says Indian Muslims condemn the blast, and has a picture of the burning Taj in the background.
After the 26/11 attacks, several Muslim organisations have started campaigns to dispel myths about Islam and show that the attacks had nothing to do with jihad. And they have got enough volunteers to support the cause. “Initially people were taken aback with the question. But once I started talking to them about the true meaning of jihad, they actually stopped to listen. Several even ask us for the books that we have on display,” said Mithani.
Mithani is part of a 15-day campaign that will involve interactive sessions at stations, hoardings at bus shelters and posters in trains. “Jihad means to defend and not attack. The word has been misinterpreted. In our pamphlets, we have explained all the verses of the Quran that condemn killing innocent people and suicide attacks,” said Imran Rasool, trustee, World Islamic Organisation at Dongri, which has organised the campaign at a budget of Rs 6 lakh.
Many organisations are working within their areas to counter misconceptions. Anjuman-e-Khadim-e-Hussain trust has printed T-shirts that say the Prophet condemns terrorism. “There is awareness and people have already segregated terrorism from Islam but such drives reinforce the message,” said trustee Ajaz Virani.
Sahyog Cultural Society, a think tank, will hold an inter-faith seminar next month with a message that all Muslims are not terrorists. “There will be representatives from all religions and an effort will be made to eradicate misconceptions about every religion and not only Islam,” said Sami Bubere from the society.