A campus newspaper is reporting that Muslim Brotherhood supporter John Esposito of Georgetown University gave a presentation at Stanford University in which he “gave his perspective on terrorism and current misconceptions of the word ‘Jihad.'” According to the report, Dr. Esposito’s talk, the second installment in the Islamic Awareness Series “Jihad to Reform.”, was sponsored by the Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN) and the Islamic Society of Stanford University (ISSU), along with the Office of Religious Life. Esposito comments on Jihad were reported as follows:
“Jihad has multiple meanings,” Esposito said.” The most primary meaning is ‘struggle for God.’” He reminded the audience, however, that Jihad can be interpreted in many ways. To some, Jihad is the struggle to remain devout and obedient to Islamic ethics. To others, it is a validation for warfare and to struggle against an oppressive force. The term has gone through many transformations in use. Since the late 1980s, the growing trend of global Jihad has taken root. Some modern Islamic governments have no qualms calling on religion to motivate their interests and movements, whether positive or negative. Yet, he said, the same word can be applied to a Muslim activist group’s efforts to create change for the betterment of its community’s social and economic development. “That kind of global jihad — we have to realize that there’s both the good side and the bad side to that term,” he said.
The position that Jihad has been misunderstood by the West and unfairly associated with violence is a standard position taken by global Muslim Brotherhood groups, noticeably the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in the U.S.
Dr. Esposito also reportedly attempted to disassociate Islam from violence such as suicide bombings by blaming ” political and economic grievances”, also a standard position of Brotherhood groups such as MPAC:
He also worried that the American public does not spend enough time critically questioning the motivations that prompt suicide bombings. “People like the quick fix,” he said, “People like to say it’s not only the Muslim extremists, but it’s Islam itself.” He further argued that America runs the risk of blaming a situation solely on religion, and such simplification does not give a full picture of the complex circumstances in the Middle East. He blamed political and economic grievances as the main source of agitation that spurs the Muslim extremist faction. “The general American population, though educated, still [has]this misconception that Islam advocates the use of violence against civilians,” said Sameena Usman, government relations representative for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in San Francisco, who attended the talk. “I think it’s really important for speakers like Esposito to explain the important economic and political issues.”
Dr. Esposito has served on the advisory board of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-linked organizations such as the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K., enjoyed a close relationship with the United Association for Studies and Research in the U.S, and has defended global Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Youssef Qaradawi. Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito.