Muslims and Christians Pray Together in Jordan “Church of Miracles”

cuhrchSALT GOVERNORATE  — Climbing up the 50 yellow stairs in the Salt Governorate leads visitors to a small iron gate that opens to what locals believe to be the church of miracles, known as “Al Khader Church”.

Father Marwan Taamneh, the church’s priest, told The Jordan Times in a recent visit that, despite its modest size, Saint George Church has been life changing for many believers, both Christian and Muslim.

He said that the actual church is located in the cave inside, where the whole story started in a cold winter night.

“As-Salt city is a hill town where people used to rely on shepherding along with other animal farms. One winter night, a shepherd took the town’s sheep to one of the caves for shelter from the heavy rain,” said Father Taamneh.

St George is said to have appeared to the shepherd inside the cave that evening, telling him to inform the villagers of the saint’s wish to build a church at “the exact same spot”. 

At that time, the cave was 1km long, and 1.5m high, according to Father Taameh who added that “sadly, due to modernisation and the establishment of new buildings, the cave almost completely vanished leaving no less than a big opening in the mountain inside the church.” 

“However”, he stressed, “visitors to the church can still see the depth of it from a small opening.”

“This 300-year old church is very special indeed,” Father Taamneh uttered, looking around the church with admiration. 

“Not only because of the story of its existence,” he continued, “or the many miraculous healings of difficult diseases, but because it is probably the only place in Jordan where Christians and Muslims pray together.”



King of Jordan: ‘Maybe there’s a lack of understanding of Islam’ in Washington

AP-trump-presser-02-as-170405_mnKing Abdullah II of Jordan in a new interview said he believes Islam is not fully understood within both the halls of Congress and the walls of the White House when asked about President Trump‘s rhetoric about the religion.

“Whether I’m in Washington in the Congress or with the administration, I think maybe there’s a lack of understanding of Islam,” the Jordanian leader said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

The king defended the religion, saying the foundations of Islam are the same moral virtues seen in other religions such as Christianity and Judaism.

“When we all greet each other as Arabs and Muslims, we say, ‘As-salamu alaykum’ — peace be unto you,” he added, describing the frequently uttered phrase as “the basis of Islam.”


Jordan’s Christians throw weight behind King’s pro-Jerusalem push

1christian-reactionsAMMAN — Christian religious and non-clergy figures on Monday hailed and reaffirmed the messages of church leaders conveyed during a meeting attended by His Majesty King Abdullah at the Baptism Site a day earlier.

They confirmed that the Christians of Jordan and Palestine, look at the King, the Custodian of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem, as the protector of these shrines and the rights of Christians in the occupied city and the guarantor of an “unbreakable unity” between Muslims and Christians. 

His Majesty on Sunday met with Christian religious leaders and figures from Jordan and Jerusalem on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year at the Baptism Site (Bethany beyond the Jordan). 

The meeting, according to a Royal Court statement, also symbolised solidarity with Jerusalem and Jerusalemites — Muslims and Christians — after the churches of the holy city, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jordan decided to turn their seasonal celebrations into an expression of solidarity with Jerusalem, in rejection of the United States’ decision to recognise the city as Israel’s capital.


Where Christians and Muslims Live in Peace

596d53841500006603bfe059Before departing for my recent trip to Jordan in the Middle East, I was repeatedly asked if I feared for my safety. Such questions are not new to me. Since my daughter has lived in Jordan for the past three years, I have repeatedly been asked variations of, “How do you sleep at night when your daughter lives in such an unsafe [usually meant “Muslim”] country?”


These questions, however, sadly misunderstand both Jordan and Islam. The biggest threat to my safety in Jordan’s capital city, as in any big city in which traffic overwhelm roads, was drivers! Although I had some near scrapes, I survived my many dicey encounters with Jordan’s erratic drivers unscathed.

While surrounded by countries in civil upheaval or civil war or just plain war, Jordan itself is a remarkable oasis of peace. When you think of Jordan, you should think of tranquility, beauty, Roman and Greek antiquity (and older), Islam, and Christianity. And—have I made my point?—peace.


Think, instead, of Wadi Rum, Jordan’s severely romantic desert landscape (where Matt Damon’s “The Martian” was filmed).

Think of Petra, the towering and sprawling remains of one of the ancient world’s most amazing cities (and you don’t need to just think of Petra, you saw it in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”).

Think of the Dead Sea, in which you can magically float, if not walk, on water. Think of Jordan’s verdant and craggy north, replete with pine trees and hot springs and Roman ruins. Think likewise of rich Roman mosaics preserved for two thousand years under the floors of some of the earliest Christian churches. And think of centuries and thousands of Christians pilgrimaging to the sites of Jesus’s baptism, the beheading of John the Baptist, and the valley where Moses died.


Leading Jordanian Muslim and Christian leaders praise Utah, BYU, LDS Church while spreading message of interfaith peace

1608413PROVO, Utah — A Muslim and a Christian got on a plane together in the Middle East and traveled the 7,000 miles to Utah to deliver a message of peace this week to leaders from around the world.

Before their presentation, the two good-humored friends first visited a mosque in West Valley City, celebrated a Catholic Mass and attended the Sunday morning session of the worldwide LDS general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The actions of the grand mufti and the Melkite Catholic priest matched their message, delivered Tuesday to representatives of 40 nations at Brigham Young University’s 22nd annual International Law and Religion Symposium: That the true nature of Islam calls for tolerance, moderation and the rejection of extremism and terrorism and provides a basis for interfaith unity and peaceful coexistence.

“Our message is that if we as Muslims and Christians in Jordan are able to live amicably and in fraternity, why can’t others do that where they are?” said Father Nabil Haddad, dean of the Saints Peter and Paul Old Cathedral in Amman, Jordan.

The fraternity exhibited by Father Haddad and Maj. Gen. Yahya Al-Btoush, the grand mufti of the Jordanian Armed Forces, is formalized in the Amman Message, a pluralistic 2004 statement by Jordan’s King Abdullah that has become a consensus, landmark document that seeks to counter the roots of terrorism and guide interfaith relations.


‘No One Is a Stranger’ The Jordanian Model for Muslim-Christian Relations

Francis_Jordan_0 (1)A Catholic family from Jordan was one of six households to address Pope Francis at September’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. As an American Catholic who has lived among Christians in the Jordanian capital of Amman, I was eager for their presentation, hoping it might challenge the belief taking root among American Catholics and others that the Middle East is universally a place of Muslim intolerance toward Christianity. I thought that Francis and those in attendance might hear, in spite of the very real dangers currently faced by many Christians in the region, of the generally tolerant environment of Jordan, characterized by peaceful co-existence. Unfortunately, the statement—delivered by a man named Nidal Mussa Sweidan, who was accompanied by his wife and two daughters—played into the notion that Christians are invariably subject to persecution.

The horrors suffered by Christians in certain parts of the Middle East cannot be overlooked. Islamic State fighters have captured hundreds of Christians in Syria in a brutal campaign that includes execution (including crucifixions), torture, rape, and enslavement of female captives. Up to a million other Christians are said to have fled their country. Affiliates in Libya notoriously executed dozens of Christians earlier this year, murders that were recorded and then seen around the world. In Iraq, tens of thousands of Christians have been displaced from the northern city of Mosul since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. In 2013, dozens of churches in Egypt were destroyed in arson attacks.

Sweidan never explicitly said the words “Muslim” or “Islam,” but he didn’t have to. In speaking almost exclusively of “religious persecution” and a “hostile environment,” and in praising the Christian community as the singular source of light and goodness in the region, he appealed to negative assumptions about Muslims and cast Islam as the enemy. This was a lost opportunity. Sweidan could have offered a more hopeful message by noting that the historic coexistence of Islam and Christianity is, despite challenges, still evident in Jordan.


Crowds welcome Pope Francis to Jordan at start of Holy Land trip

140524062904-pope-arrives-amman-jordan-00014714-story-tablet(CNN) — After a joyous welcome from the gathered faithful, Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday at a stadium in Jordan on the first leg of a Holy Land trip intended to promote a message of unity.

His trip has been billed as a “pilgrimage for prayer,” with its roots in faith, not politics.

But in a region where religion and politics are so closely intertwined, his every remark will take on an added significance.

The Holy Land trip, also taking in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, is the first for Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and just the fourth for any pontiff in the modern era.

Everything to know about Pope Francis

Thousands of believers packed the International Stadium in Amman for the Mass in what is a majority Muslim nation with a significant Christian community. Many cheered and waved as the Pope arrived.

Crowds Welcome Pope Francis in Jordan