In Islamic traditions, jihad, an Arabic word meaning “struggle,” means struggling against one’s lesser instincts to try and be a good person. In some instances, it can refer to an armed struggle against oppression.
Defining the term jihad as “holy war,” especially without explanation, is inaccurate.
Ali Asani is Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures and Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University. A scholar of Islam in South Asia, Prof Asani's research focuses on Shia and Sufi devotional traditions in the region. In addition, he is interested in popular or folk forms of Muslim devotional life, Muslim communities in the West and the role of the arts in promoting religious literacy.
Jocelyn Cesari is Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University and directs the Islam in the West Program at Harvard University. She is the founder of Islamopedia Online, which maps the global field of Islam and Governance and of euro-islam.info which is the clearing house for resources on Muslims and Islam in Europe and North America. Her most recent books are "The Awakening of Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity and the State and "Why the West Fears Islam: Exploration of Muslim in Liberal Democracies."
Carl W. Ernst is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a specialist in Islamic studies, with a focus on West and South Asia. His published research, based on the study of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, has been mainly devoted to the study of three areas: general and critical issues of Islamic studies, pre-modern and contemporary Sufism, and Indo-Muslim culture.
Wardah Khalid is the author of the “Young American Muslim” blog on the Houston Chronicle and is a blogger for the Huffington Post. She is heavily involved in civic outreach, youth and interfaith work and has offered workshops on Islam, social media and Islamophobia to local and national audiences. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University.
The daughter of African immigrants to the American Midwest, Hind has long been interested in understanding the impact of migration, race, religion on shaping the development of Western Muslim consciousness. She blogs at Hindtrospectives on Patheos, and is the founder of Side Entrance, a tumblr which showcases the women’s sections of mosques around the world; according to the blog’s description, they showcase “the beautiful, the adequate and the pathetic.”
Haroon Moghul is a Senior Correspondent at Religion Dispatches and Senior Editor at The Islamic Monthly. He is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, focusing on 'Allama Muhammad Iqbal's concept of reconstruction; his research more broadly includes Islam in India and Islamic networks across the greater Indian Ocean and West Asian regions. Moghul is also the author of two novels – "My First Police State" and "The Order of Light."
Hussein Rashid is currently a faculty member at Hofstra University and Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches. He is the convener of islamicate and a contributor to Talk Islam and AltMuslimah. He received an MA and PhD from Harvard’s Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. His dissertation focused on the role of music as a means of integration amongst South Asian immigrants to the US and the UK. His larger research interest is the representation and self-representation of Muslims in America. He is currently expanding his research to include graphic novels and the Muslim-American blogistan.
Omid Safi is an Iranian-American Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he specializes in Islamic mysticism (Sufism), contemporary Islamic thought and medieval Islamic history. He has served on the board of the Pluralism project at Harvard University and is the co-chair for the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. He is also the author of Progressive Muslims, which contains a diverse collection of essays by and about Muslims committed to social justice and pluralism.