Jihad. It's a Loaded word, full of negative connotations and—to most of us—pretty scary. But is jihad a holy war undertaken by Muslims against infidels? For some, unfortunately, this deviant definition is accurate. But for most Muslims, the word jihad means to strive, to make a great and tenacious effort (see Al-Mawrid: A Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, ed. Rohi Baalbaki, P. 409).
The confusion between the actual meaning of the word jihad and what we hear constantly through various media regarding this word can best describe the pitfalls that sometimes affect our view of what the historian Samuel Huntington famously called "the clash of civilizations." Tragically, religious warfare is a reality for many parts of the Middle East today.
However, as a resident of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1991, I heartily disagree with the myopic, negative tone of most of the OP-ED media commentators who claim that the influence of the good Samaritan has been drowned out in the din of recent events in this troubled area of the world. Let me illustrate. As a classroom teacher working exclusively with 18-year-old Saudi males, I estimate that I've touched the lives of more than 5,000 students over the last 15 years. And being a student of Christian Science, I often use direct quotations from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, to help illustrate a moral point to my students. A few months ago such a situation arose, and the Bible Lesson (outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly) for that week had the perfect inspiration for an essay that my students were writing about Prejudice.
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