A British Muslim women's group has launched a "jihad against violence", in a bid to reclaim the term jihad from extremists.
The campaign, launched by Inspire at City Hall in central London on Sunday, aims to combat all forms of violence but with an emphasis on crimes, including terrorism, domestic abuse and female genital mutilation, that some perpetrators attempt to justify in the name ofIslam.
Although jihad means a struggle in the way of God, it has been hijacked by extremists, who have attempted to use it to justify holy war, the group says.
"People think 'jihad against violence' is a contradictory statement but our jihad is for peace," said Inspire's director, Sara Khan. "Islam has become synonymous with all things violent and the repression of women. We thought we couldn't sit back and stay silent while our religion is being used to carry out acts of violence." Khan has previously advised the government on tackling radicalisation and was critical of the government's Prevent programme for combating extremism for not including enough input from women.
Inspire intends to make information refuting the arguments of those who purport to use the Qur'an to justify terrorism and domestic violence against women and children more widely available – information it says is lacking in many Islamic bookshops. It also wants to put pressure on Muslim leaders to confront what Khan says are currently "taboo" subjects and is encouraging organisations and individuals to sign up to the declaration of jihad against violence on its website.