Muslim Countries of the World: Jordan

Mosque Jordan
Photo 43802173 © Ahmad.a Atwah | Dreamstime.com

Jordan is a swathe of land between Palestine and Saudi Arabia. In addition, it borders Syria to the north and Iraq to the east. Jordan was one of the first to be converted to Islam. The Levant region (Palestine, Syria, Jordan) was at that time possessed by Byzantium. The conquest of the Levant began by Khalid Ibn al-Walid and Amr Ibn al-As during the Prophet’s lifetime. Immediately after his death, the First Rightly Guided Caliph Abu Bakr began a military expedition to the Levant. The conquest of Jordan (which the Byzantines called the Second Palestine) was entrusted to Shurahbil Ibn Hasan. At the head of the 7,000 strong army, Shurahbil Ibn Hasan invaded Jordan and by 634 subdued all the local tribes to the rule of the Caliphate.

The Caliphate lost the lands of Jordan for 200 years as a result of the invasion of the Crusaders and the formation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in Palestine (1099-1268). Through the efforts of the Egyptian Sultan Saladin, the crusaders were expelled from Palestine. Jordan became part of first Ayyubid, and then Mamluk Egypt. In 1516, the Mamluks were replaced by the Sublime Port – the Ottoman Empire. After World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, first France and then Great Britain received the mandate to govern Jordan. In 1946, the independence of Jordan was declared and the creation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which it is to this day. The Hashemites are a clan of the Arab tribe of the Quraysh, from which the Prophet descended. The name ‘Hashemite’ means special nobleness and significance of the governing dynasty of rulers who descended from Hashim Ibn Abd Manaf (great-grandfather of the Prophet). The Hashemites from the 10th century onwards were the amirs of Mecca, the caliphs of the Hejaz (the western part of the Caliphate on the shores of the Red Sea with Mecca and Medina), the Maliks of Iraq and Syria. The current King of Jordan Abdullah II of the Hashemite dynasty is a direct descendant of the Prophet.

In Jordan, Sunni Islam of the Hanafi madhhab is widespread (a legacy of four hundred years of the Ottoman Empire’s domination, where this madhhab is the main one). The main distinguishing feature of Jordanian Islam is its liberalism and pluralism. For all the Jordanians’ commitment to Islam, one can note the absence of strict state control over the observance of Muslim norms of life. Until the 1980s, this was reflected in the uneven spread of Muslim piety, from strict adherence to rules to the prevalence of secular life over religious life. In addition, ‘quasi-Islamic’ beliefs in spirits, saints, amulets to protect against jinn and so on were widespread in the countryside. With the beginning of the Muslim revival in the 1980s, a significant influence of Islamic piety has been noted in society, the desire to strictly adhere to the norms and prescriptions of the Muslim faith.

The current queen, Rania al-Abdullah, plays a special role in the liberalization of Islam. She is an example of a Muslim woman with an active life position, advocates the promotion and empowerment of Muslim women in society. She dresses elegantly, leads an active social life, takes pride in the fact that the women of Jordan are not forced to be compliant. ‘You don’t have to wear a hijab,’ the queen says. ‘It’s a matter of your beliefs.’ In an environment of free choice, Jordanian women voluntarily take on the responsibility of wearing the hijab.

The head of religious affairs in Jordan is the Ministry of Awqaf Islamic Affairs and Holy Places. The head of the Muslims is the Great Mufti of Jordan, who is appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers and the High Islamic Judge of the Kingdom. The current Supreme Mufti of Jordan is Mohammed Khalaileh (since 2017).