Some of you may know I have a personal fascination for the country of Jordan, but may not know the reasons behind it. This is a page where I attempt to describe where that fascination comes from. I wish to stress that this does not mean I favour any other country any less. All things considered, my journey to Islam started in Egypt. The heart of Islam is located in Saudi. I have friends in places all over the globe.
Truth be told, I have been interested to visit Jordan for a long time. One of my favourite childhood adventure movies, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade has scenes filmed in Al-Khazneh (الخزنة), “the treasury” temple located in Petra. Imagine being in the same place as one of my favourite childhood movie heroes…
I have also wanted to visit the Dead Sea on the border between Jordan and Palestine, a place so salty it contains no animal life and floating on its surface is super easy. It is also the lowest place on Earth, 423 meters below sea level. It has a number of interesting reasons, check out this website to know 10 facts about this fascinating place.
More than just the sights…
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that King Abdullah II of Jordan participated in an episode of Star Trek!
He appeared very briefly, no speaking role, but it’s clear that it’s him. Obviously this was before he became king, but I had never heard of a royal monarch doing something like this before (or after)… not only that, he appeared as a simple member of the crew of the starship Voyager, not as a high ranking officer or royal dignitary. A regular medical/science officer. That earned my respect.
On exploring the royal family, I was amazed by things I discovered. Pardon my (then) ignorance, but I was not too familiar with the Hashemite family of Jordan at that time. It surprised me to find that King Abdullah’s mother, Princess Muna al-Hussein, is originally from the United Kingdom, thus making the King half European from an ethnical point of view. More amazement when discovering that his father King Hussein’s last wife, Queen Noor, is an American with Swedish ancestry on her mother’s side. Swedish ancestry!
I later found that there is in fact an actual Swedish person included in the Jordanian royal family by marriage, when I found out about Prince Ra’ad bin Zeid, first cousin of the former Jordanian King Talal, (King Hussein’s father and current King Abdullah’s grandfather). Prince Ra’ad is married to Princess Majda Ra’ad, (birthname Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind)… from Sweden! The Jordanian monarchy only became more and more interesting to me the more I explored.
The discoveries and lineage of the Jordanian monarchy was enough for me to want to deepen my insight into the topic….
…and the country’s history.
The Amman Message
But… what had a rather big impact on me is when I stumbled over something rather special… “The Amman Message”, an attempt to unite the muslim leaders, regardless of spiritual group or direction, to clarify what it truly means to be a muslim. This, as a response to extremism and the fact that Islam every so often continues to end up under an errenaous label, as well as giving guidance to muslims in principles of identifying oneself as a muslim.
In the words of His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan…
“this consensus does not represent the opinion of one man, one ethnic group, one country, or even a group of countries. It does not represent one school of Islamic Jurisprudence or one school of thought in Islam. It represents a unanimous agreement by all Muslims everywhere as represented by their acknowledged most senior religious authorities and political leaders. In one sense this book brings nothing new, and changes nothing. […]
Herein the reader will find no malice, no petty rivalries and no hostility. Its content is a message of unity, mutual respect, and brotherhood. As such it is also a definitive answer to sedition amongst Muslims, and a clear demarcation of True Islam in all its forms.”
On finding this rather historical initiative, my admiration for the King, (which was already pretty high), increased a whole lot more. The message is a very interesting read which I wholeheartedly recommend anyone, (muslim or not), to take a look at.
You can find the English version here.
And the Arabic version here.
You won’t regret reading it. I promise.
My hopes and dreams…
There is a whole lot more that I could say about this country and my fascination for it, but these things give a basic idea at least. For the longest time, in my attempts to learn and understand the Islamic culture and more so, the Islamic language of Arabic which I feel is best learned in a surrounding where it is constantly used, I have wanted to live in an Arabic speaking country in order to gain experience, wisdom, and insight.
Some people, (at least here), would probably scoff at such a thought, “how could anyone want to change their living situation so drastically? And how would anyone be able to live in such a place?”
It is nothing new. There is the British scholar and military officer T.E Lawrence, also known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, a very instrumental figure in the early 1900’s, who helped to liberate Aqaba from the Turks and aimed to liberate the arab people from foreign control, “he lobbied vainly for Arab independence at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 (even appearing in Arab robes) and lobbied vainly against the detachment of Syria and Lebanon from the rest of the Arab countries as a French mandate.” (Brittanica.com). Being who he was, he spent extensive time in the Arab world and was probably, by many people at the time (since he often appeared in Arab robes), even considered as an Arab by his own kind. Which explains how he became known as “Lawrence of Arabia”.
Active at the same time was the British female explorer Gertrude Bell, often considered as Lawrence’s female equal. “As part of her post-war role, she would prove instrumental in shaping the modern-day country of Iraq, initiating borders as well as installing the future leader, King Faisal in 1922.” She would then also have been instrumental in shaping the border between Iraq and Jordan, thus contributing to how the country’s borders look today. “Her dedication to the region continued as she was keen to preserve Iraq’s rich cultural heritage and for the rest of her time dedicated herself to such a task. The new leader, King Faisal, even named Gertrude Bell as the director of antiquities at the new National Museum of Iraq housed in Baghdad. The museum opened in 1923 owing much of its creation, collections and cataloguing to Bell.” (www.historic-uk.com).
(For those not in the know, King Faisal mentioned here above, was the brother of the first king of Jordan, Abdullah I, King Hussein’s grandfather… making the monarchies of Jordan and Iraq closely related.) So, Gertrude Bell, a western woman with extensive time in the Arab world…. also known as “Queen of the desert”.
But we don’t need to go back in history to find examples because as mentioned, the Jordanian monarchy as it stands today, has a few westerners as members.
I also recently stumbled over the case of a man from China, who came to live in Jordan. This man was interviewed in Jordanian television, so those who understand fluent arabic can watch the interview here.
What do most of these mentioned examples have in common? The trouble adapting is not perhaps so much based on surroundings… yes, that may provide challenges, but failure to adapt is related to faith. Someone who lack faith and only hold to something for their own personal satisfaction will soon face trouble. A belief is a strong foundation. In truth, it is about someone WILLING to adapt in order to receive the reward such a change would give.
The most important thing in life, especially as muslims, is to ask.. why are we here? What do we hope to accomplish? What do we live for?
سورة التوبة ٣٨
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَا لَكُمْ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمُ انفِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ اثَّاقَلْتُمْ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ ۚ أَرَضِيتُم بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مِنَ الْآخِرَةِ ۚ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ
Surah At-Tawba 9:38
O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.
It is wrong to assume that success or failure in any given situation depend on our own ability or inability to handle that situation. Why do people say “ya rab” if it really means nothing to them? In all things, it is our Creator who grants abilities to help us face each day, including living situations… through success or failure…
سورة الحديد ٢٢
مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
سورة الروم ٥٤
اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن ضَعْفٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ ضَعْفٍ قُوَّةً ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِن بَعْدِ قُوَّةٍ ضَعْفًا وَشَيْبَةً ۚ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْقَدِيرُ
Surah Al-Hadid 57:22
No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: That is truly easy for Allah:
Surah Ar-Room 30:54
It is Allah Who created you in a state of (helpless) weakness, then gave (you) strength after weakness, then, after strength, gave (you weakness and a hoary head: He creates as He wills, and it is He Who has all knowledge and power.
It is also wrong to assume that we have a personal choice in such life altering matters. It may seem so to us, but there is more to it than meets the eye, قدر … the sixth article of faith. Whatever my life has in store for the future, it comes through guidance given to my heart…
سورة الشورى ٥١
وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا
سورة الانسان ٣
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
Surah Ash-Shura 42:51
It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration
Surah Al-Insaan 76:3
We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).
Personally, I believe my fate has more in store than what my own society can offer. I believe that the reward for such an undertaking is worth every effort of such a journey. Wisdom is one of the greatest rewards we are given in this life. There is nothing to be gained from the path we already know, yet that is the path most people lean on because it holds no unpleasant surprises… a way of comfort. It brings us a feeling of safety. But what is the gain?
سورة النساء ٩٥
لَّا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً ۚ وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
Surah An-Nisaa 4:95
Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-
At the end of the day, life is a journey where we grow, not just physically, but also mentally and characteristically based on the experiences that shapes us… experience is the best teacher.
سورة البقرة ٢٦٩
يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيراً وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ
Surah Al-Baqara 2:269
He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding.
This is one of the reasons I now say… with great respect, and by the grace of Allah… through my research, and in my dealings with people, I have gained a great respect for Jordan. It is a place where my heart points and has pointed for a time… a place I hope I will have the privilege to see and grow as a muslim in both speech and intellect, inshallah. This feeling has, ever since it came to me and regardless of what has happened in my life, remained steadfast… and as such, I feel it is more than just a simple fantasy… In the end, the greatest of changes can bring the greatest of opportunities… we just need to believe in it…
سورة البقرة ١٤٨
وَلِكُلٍّ وِجْهَةٌ هُوَ مُوَلِّيهَا ۖ فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ۚ أَيْنَ مَا تَكُونُوا يَأْتِ بِكُمُ اللَّهُ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Surah Al-Baqara 2:148
To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you Together. For Allah Hath power over all things.
Sources, (accessed on February the 22nd 2021):