Can a Song Change the Meaning of ‘Jihad’?

DJ Squeak E. Clean and KRS-One have teamed up for a ballsy video to show the world that ‘jihad’ can mean love. Look out, Pam Geller!
Famed music producer and DJ Sam Spiegel might just be facing his greatest challenge ever. Sure, he has been able to coax such big names as Kanye West, David Byrne, Chuck D, and Tom Waits, to name just a few, into taking part in his projects.  He has also collaborated with a litany of musical acts from Maroon 5 to Iggy Pop and worked with his brother, director Spike Jonze, on short films and commercials.But now Spiegel is attempting his greatest feat ever: trying to define Islam and Muslims in an accurate light. How does he plan to do that? Well, by way of the song “Jihad Love Squad,” released last week by his band N.A.S.A., which features the rapper KRS-One.

In class we talked about the changing meaning of words throughout time. Meaning changes and it’s influenced by our historical context. Today in the West the word ‘JIhad”has a negative connotation, can this be changed though the power of art? What do you think about the music video? 

9 responses to “Can a Song Change the Meaning of ‘Jihad’?

  1. I am a native Arabic speaker, and i just want to explain for you the real meaning of Jihad (جهاد) means striving and struggling. And back in the days when Prophet Mohammad was alive the word Jihad was used for the ones that work hard to spread Islam, and Jihad also means to be a good believer. In Islamic religion killing children, woman or elder people or any innocent is prohibited or as they say in Arabic Haram and will go straight to hell, plus if you arrest any intruder he has to be treated very good (give him food water and never harm him by any mean orally or physically).
    For this video that i just watched the concept is pretty nice especially that they are trying to show that not all Muslims are terrorists, and in another explaining Jihad as spreading Love and Happiness; which is one of the many meanings of Jihad to work on making whoever around you feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment Jamal. Indeed, the meaning of Jihad has been reduced to violence in the West, when in fact, as you mentioned, it originally referred to this internal spiritual struggle to become a better Muslim. This is why religious literacy is so important for media commentators and consumers alike.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Quran has 164 verses of the word Jihad and each has a meaning, as we know that the Quran rather than it being a religious it is a philosophy of its own. Only few of those verses are linked to war and under certain circumstances, non of these circumstances can happen nowadays.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you said this becuase yeah it is so easy for individuals to just assume and stereotype. Most of what one thinks when it comes to general explanations is based off of stereotypes and that is a negative and ignorant perspective of judging. It is important to learn from the origin because interpretation can get extremely messy. The fact that this video gives a different perspective is awesome, and though it may not be a big thing now art travels and one small step will eventually amount to change.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is where hermeneutics helps us to better interact and understand sacred scripture. These are great observations for when we talk about sacred scripture.


  2. Jamal, I agree with a lot of what you said about Jihad meaning to strive, struggle, and persevere. However, if the radical Muslims have an agenda to take over the world to spread their religion and call it Jihad themselves, it is not the West changing the meaning. It is Islam itself. The West has not called for a Holy War, radical Islam has. And no song can change their minds.


    • It is good that you distinguish between “Islam,” a very heterogeneous religion, and “radical Islam,” which like any other extreme ideology can be dangerous. Changing the minds of members of these extreme groups can be nearly imposible, but can artists, communicators and students strive to battle islamophobia in the West by expanding the meaning of certain religious concepts such as “Jihad”? (we will talk about the history and use of this word in class).


    • I respect what you said but you have to go and search for the origins of these people and who is supporting them and giving them medication inside israel and where they got there weapons from, and all they did in the middle east nowadays is under the English French agenda in the 1900s Sykes-Picot and Balfor agreement to split the middle east weaken the the countries to take over them, and now they used created ISIS and it went out of control!!


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