“Let’s do jihad — my people will call your people”

So much about the rhetoric of murderously radical Islamists strikes me, incongruously, as comical. They say goofy things. They remind me of a Doonesbury strip from the 70s in which the personable Viet Cong terrorist Phred is called back up to duty, and when he asks why, gets a response loaded with Leninist jargon about “running dogs” or some such, and he thinks to himself, “I forgot that we talked like that.” (Or something. I’ll try to find the actual strip and post it.)

There was a particularly goofy one in the WSJ today, in the “What’s News” briefing. It went like this:

A Taliban spokesman said insurgents are ready “to do jihad” as U.S. and Afghan forces planned a major offensive in southern Afghanistan. A17

I found myself wondering whether that was an accurate translation. Do Islamists really say “do jihad,” the way Yuppies in the 80s said, “Let’s do lunch?”

Unfortunately, the phrase didn’t actually appear in the story on A17 that the briefing item referred to, so I can’t give you the context… In the original language it’s probably not as odd-sounding. But apparently the phrase is frequently translated that way, such as here and here and here.

9 thoughts on ““Let’s do jihad — my people will call your people”

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I’m still shaking my head over the sentence in a The State features article this week that ended “Mardi Gras, which will be celebrated on Tuesday this year.”

    Not sure if there was a a comma or not.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    Uh, I b’lieve you were once a heathen prod, and indeed were one during your formal educational process….

    In fact, that’s what you get when you cut copy-editing staff….it’s well known that most journalists cannot actually write comprehensible copy on their own…at least it’s well known in my family…many amusing dinner time tales….

  3. David

    I’m still shaking my head over the sentence in a The State features article this week that ended “Mardi Gras, which will be celebrated on Tuesday this year.”


    And I wonder upon what day of the week Good Friday falls this year.

  4. Herb B.

    Jihad literally means “striving,” and there are at least 3 different interpretations of what that means, actually more than that. It’s not far off of the common word I hear thrown around today, “I have a passion for . . . .” Everybody has a passion, it seems. A bit overstated, but Wafa Sultan has some good explanations in her new book of what is going on in the radical, fanatic mind that interprets that “striving” as having to hurt others.

    Of course, I don’t agree with her ultimate premise, that we created God to meet our own needs. She understands why people can strive for an evil ogre God and hate people, but she doesn’t really understand where we get the ideals for beauty and love. Or I think she really ignores that question.

  5. zzazzeefrazzee

    Jihad جهاد meaning “struggle” in Arabic, is used as a loan word in both Dari and Pashto. All such loan words are modified with a native verb to form what is called a “Complex Verb”. The same is also true of loan words in Turkic languages. In this case, the native verb is invariable “to do”. So it is a very literal translation of these statements, but does sound odd in English. If I were the translator, I would use the verb “commit” instead, but this is pretty low down my list of complaints with Western government and media’s inability to get a few basic words right after nearly a decade.

    “Iraq” Pronounced “eeRAAQ”

    not “I rack”

    “Iran” pronounced “eeRAAN”

    Not “I ran”.

    al-Qa’ida pronounced “al QAA-ehdah”
    not “al Kayda”

  6. zzazzeefrazzee

    Herb, I’m not sure that “passion” is a good translation, as other words are used for that. The root verb really does mean very broadly “to struggle”, i.e. “I have to struggle to find a new job.”

    In that very specific respect, there are a lot of American “jihadis” right now, N’est pas?

    Just don’t tell the smearcasters|http://smearcasting.com/

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