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“Jihad”, popular culture and philanthropy

August 9, 2010

from Atlas Shrugged

I know that jihad doesn’t really mean “war” or other violent acts, but with the media constantly forcing it down my throat, it’s hard not to have something of a Pavlovian reflex and to think “violence” when I hear the word jihad.

So it was refreshing to come across this article and realize that some people out there are trying to reverse the taboo of “jihad” and create positive impressions of what jihad actually does mean.

Jihad in Arabic language means “to strive.”

Ahh… Well, that makes a world of difference, if you ask me. The above mentioned article highlights the endeavors of indie music artist Salman Ahmad – founder of the immensely popular band Junoon – and how he strives in the music industry to…

Achieve social activism in fighting injustices, bigotry, national animosities, disease, religious misunderstandings, religious radicalism and the list goes on…

Mr. Ahmad is based in Pakistan, so it only makes sense that he aims his musical stylings and message at the South Asian community.   His social awareness and philanthropic endeavors have been recognized by the United Nations and he’s helping raise “eyebrows” at the various ways that one can reach an audience. Music has been used as a medium to convey all kinds of social ails and remedies across the ages and he is clearly part of that tradition.

Do you think he’s successful? In light of the interview I did with Mallika Dutt about her organization, Breakthrough, it seems that popular culture is becoming a larger medium to convey all kinds of messages (good or bad) – including philanthropic ones.

What do you think? Do you like popular culture as a way to promote social awareness and justice or do you think it’s just a trend?  Is this kind of activity just as effective as traditional philanthropy – or more or less so?

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