We here in the States associate the word "jihad" with images and ideas that are the complete opposite of the actual origin of the word. We associate the word with abhorrent terrorist acts, but in reality, "jihad" has nothing to do with any of that; it is, simply, the very personal struggle a faithful person has with their own internal weaknesses. Indeed, in many ways, Christians are already familiar with the concept of jihad, struggling against the very human weaknesses of greed, gossip, and pettiness. It is this internal struggle that our brilliant guest contributor, Faiza, is explaining, and her ideas cast so broad a net as to be relevant to anyone who strives to be a better person.
When defined correctly, Jihad is a personal and spiritual battle/struggle within oneself. Something a person is working on to better themselves, their way of life, educate others, hopefully maybe even make the world a better place. Growing up, I had many Jihads: «My Jihad is to be fearless when making fashion statements,» «My Jihad is to strut in six-inch heels without falling flat on my you-know-what.» Looking back, they may not have been as admirable as the Jihads I have today, although the former still applies. I know many others whose Jihads range from «My Jihad is to overcome my father’s death without losing my faith» to «My Jihad is to not allow any of my past relationships to affect my future one.» Below is a list of Jihads I believe every woman should have or apply in her everyday life.
1. Get Fit
A Jihad towards staying fit, is one every woman should have not only because it’s good for your physical appearance which in turn makes you more confident, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle that will ensure that you have more energy, strength, and stamina. Your bones will be stronger, you’ll sleep better, and overall enjoy life much more.
2. Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin
The most notable Jihad a woman could have is one that entails her deep sense of appreciation and pride in herself. In being comfortable in who and what she is and stands for. Living your life as the exact person that you are, with no apologies to anyone or strings attached. Remembering who you are and where you come from. This is a daily process for every woman and definitely a Jihad worth adding to your list.
3. Explore the World
This is a Jihad that can change a woman’s life. To see every part of the world as much as you possibly can. Why? Because traveling is not only about seeing new places, it’s about meeting new people. It enhances our understanding of other cultures, ethnicities, and religions. It broadens our horizons to traditions and practices around the world. This increases tolerance because by interacting with people from different cultures, you realize that they’re not so different from you or me.
4. Laughter is Medicine
That’s right, humor is infectious and what better contagion than one that unites people and increases happiness? Making someone’s day a little better simply by getting them to flash those pearly whites can and has been a common denominator amongst every human being in both mind and body. Laughter can change people’s perspective of you, their day, mood, outlook on life or present circumstance–which in turn promotes change whether it be in your life or another’s. A Jihad towards uniting others through laugher–now that’s one that’s definitely worth it.
5. Find True Love
A Jihad for love is one that is at the top of my list. The search to find that one person you can spend forever with. Someone that completes you, makes you happy, supports your dreams and aspirations. A person who accepts you for YOU–no substitutions. But, a Jihad for love does not only have to consist of looking for that special someone to spend forever with, but love is very important in our everyday lives. Because the love we have in every single one of us is the root of the good attitudes that we should reveal to people around us everyday in the hopes of making the world a better, more loving place. Remember ladies, Kumbaya!
6. Feed Your Mind
Increasing your intellect is always a good idea. Now, I’m not only talking about running down to your local library and checking out as many books written by Plato, Hesiod, and Voltaire you can find. Feeding your mind is also about paying attention to the world around you, thinking logically and creatively. Keeping yourself informed of what’s going on in the world outside a Cosmopolitan and Vogue magazine. So ladies, the next time you’re at a magazine stand–don’t avoid buying the latest Bazaar issue, but alongside it, purchase a newspaper and keep that sexy, stiletto-wearing mind of yours up to date on the happenings around you and in the world today.
7. Avoid Drama
Ever heard the saying, «Life’s too short to spend it focusing on that Double D Breasted ditz starting drama over absolutely nothing while carrying a knockoff Prada clutch?» OK… that’s my version of the saying, based on personal experience, but you get my drift. Avoid all the drama in your life that conflicts or affects your present and future. Instead, make a Jihad to focus on the important things like work, school, family, and friends that aren’t toxic or, in my case, when Barney’s is going to have a sale on the Manolo Blahnik Swan Heels in Navy.
Aretha Franklin understood the importance of that seven-letter word that is key to giving and receiving. There’s a tremendous need for respect not only in relationships but also in the workplace, towards other religions, and cultural beliefs and traditions. Also, there’s the respect a women should have for her body and mind. A Jihad towards respecting yourself as well as all those around you is what makes you someone others can communicate openly with and appreciate which in turn generates a reciprocal respect from others.
9. Break Stereotypes
In the fast pace world we live in, for many, stereotypes have become a guide to simplifying and understanding people and groups. However, when this limits your experience and makes you stagnant in your judgment, that’s when it becomes detrimental to human growth and understanding. I’m stereotyped everyday. «She fixes her hair, wears high heels, and puts on makeup–she must be a snooty, dumb Diva,» or «She’s skinny, so she must be anorexic.» Or my all time favorite, «She’s Muslim, so that must mean she’s oppressed.» Now I am far from a snooty, dumb, anorexic oppressed Muslim Diva. I break this stereotype by inviting people to get to know me and not who they think I am. Then they discover that I’m nothing remotely close to what they reduced me down to. A Jihad towards breaking stereotypes of what people may unfairly have of you, your religion, culture or traditions, is one that is definitely worth it.
You’re educating them can start a chain reaction that can have a bigger, more positive impact than you think.
10. Make It Count
We all want to leave this world saying that our lives held some meaning to someone or something. That we didn’t take a day for granted. We did our very best with the life that was given to us and made a change–no matter how small. A Jihad towards making each day count is one that every woman should have. Life is a precious gift. Don’t waste it.
11. Sharing is Caring
Sharing is not only allowing your sister or friends to borrow your only pair of Christian Louboutin black pointed toe pumps. It’s about giving your services, love, money, food, or even your time to those in need. Browse the Internet for some organizations looking for volunteers like Anti-Bullying, Women for Women, volunteer at your local shelter or hospital or you can even do this in the comfort of your own home for your family. Sharing yourself with others in need by cleaning dishes for your mother, visiting a sick friend, listening to a lonely person–shows others what a caring person you are and may inspire them to do the same.
12. Step Away from Your Phone
How many times have you been out with your friends only to find yourselves sitting in a group of four where every single one of you is either updating your Facebook status, posting a pic on Instagram, or texting? Been there, done that more times than I’m proud of. A Jihad to focus on what’s important and right in front of you–and no that does not mean your jewel-encrusted iPhone- is one that is definitely worth adding. So the next time you’re out with the gals, family, or your significant other, keep your phone where it belongs–in your purse–and insist that those with you do the same. Your phone will be there after dinner, the memories made during that time won’t.
Your life can feel that much more fulfilled, meaningful, enjoyable, and most importantly happy simply by adding one, or some, of these Jihads to your to-do list. Maybe you have a Jihad your working towards right now or a Jihad you believe every woman should have. Share it with me.