Tiny Jordan’s outsize role fostering interfaith understanding

HM-King-WIHA-(7)Every month, Christians and Muslims from Milan to Mecca, Kansas to Kuala Lumpur find common ground in an unusual place: a desert country the size of Maine surrounded by war zones.

In Jordan, a royal family recognized as descendants of the prophet Muhammad, and a citizenry of Christians and Muslims who have lived side by side for centuries, have been playing an outsized role in fostering dialogue and common understanding among the world’s faiths.

Participants and observers say Jordan’s interfaith drive is not political expediency or a PR stunt; rather it is the continuation of a unique homegrown tradition of celebrating faiths’ common bonds and values that the kingdom has taken to the world stage as an answer to growing polarization and sectarianism.

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Jordan’s first call to action was in the wake of 9/11 and the sectarian violence and terrorism triggered by the Iraq War next door.

King Abdullah crafted and promoted a response – the Amman Message, a document clarifying the central tenets of Islam, rejecting terrorism, extremism, and violence, and denouncing the practice of declaring other Muslims as “apostates.”

Jordan’s decade and a half of interfaith activism is being recognized: Last month King Abdullah was awarded the 2018 Templeton Prize for the country’s interfaith work, becoming only the second Muslim recipient of an award previously granted to the Dalai Llama and Mother Theresa.



Jordan celebrates Christian-Muslim solidarity as churches rejoice Christmas at the gates

King-5AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah, accompanied by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah II, on Tuesday attended a celebration at Al Hussein Cultural Centre in downtown Amman, held by churches in Jordan on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, church leaders from Jordan and Jerusalem and representatives of the Jerusalem awqaf, attended the celebration, organised by the Council of Church Leaders in Jordan.

King Abdullah extended his best wishes to Jordanians, Palestinians and all Arab Christians on this occasion.

 During the ceremony, representatives of the Jerusalem churches and awqaf delivered remarks that highlighted Christmas as an occasion to celebrate peace and love, and an opportunity to promote the importance of living in harmony.

 They reiterated that Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty, will remain steadfast in defending Jerusalem and its holy sites, stressing the importance of the Hashemite Custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem as a continuation of the Pact of Omar.

 They stressed that there is no alternative to the two-state solution to achieve peace, in which East Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine.

 They expressed appreciation for the King’s donation of a large part of the Templeton Prize, received by His Majesty last month, for the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The speakers also commended the King’s efforts that resulted in a set of UNESCO resolutions supporting the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to Al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem.

 The celebration, which is held under the theme “Jordan Land of Faith and Fellowship”, continues through December 19 at Al Hussein Cultural Centre and includes performances by the Fountain of Love Choir, the National Music Conservatory Orchestra and a number of performers.

 Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, Adviser to His Majesty and Director of the Office of His Majesty Manar Dabbas, Chief Islamic Justice Abdul Karim Khasawneh, Grand Mufti Mohammad Khalaileh and a number of senior officials and Christian and Muslim leaders in Jordan and Palestine attended Tuesday’s celebration.


Islam is religion of holistic vision, not cherry-picking to suit political agenda — Jordanian King

‘Greater jihad’ is personal, internal struggle to defeat ego, share a world of peace, harmony, love — King

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah said that Islam is a religion of holistic vision, “not news_HM-king-Templeton-Prize-(8)the cherry-picking of verses to suit a political agenda”, stressing that all 1.8 billion Muslims around the world are working to defend Islam against the “malignant sub-minority who abuse our religion”.

In his speech at a ceremony in Washington, DC, as he accepted the 2018 Templeton Prize on Wednesday, His Majesty underlined Jordan’s historic privilege as the land of prophets and its role in maintaining and defending their message of peace and goodness, according to a Royal Court statement.

His Majesty said that he accepts the award on behalf of all Jordanians, because all he is being honoured for “simply carries onward what Jordanians have always done”, and that is to live in mutual kindness, harmony and brotherhood.


We are fighting terrorism in defence of true Islam

HM king-Templeton Prize (3)AMMAN – His Majesty King Abdullah has said that the fight against terrorism and extremism Jordan is spearheading is aimed not to please anyone but rather to defend orthodox, true Islam.

In his speech at a ceremony in Washington DC as he accepted 2018 Templeton Prize on Wednesday, His Majesty underlined Jordan’s historic privilege as the land of prophets and its role in maintaining and defending their message of peace and goodness.

Following is the full text of the speech:

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

Thank you, all.

But I must begin today with a word about those who are highest in my mind today, the Jordanian families who are suffering and grieving in the aftermath of horrific flash flooding in my country.

There are no words strong enough to express my sorrow, the sorrow of all Jordanians, for the human loss caused by the double natural disasters, just weeks apart. And I want to commend to the world the Jordanians who raced to respond, the neighbours and medical teams and rescue units.

Truly, in facing tragedy—whether the deadly floods that struck Jordan or the deadly wildfires that struck California—we are, all of us, bound together in brotherhood. For the victims and their families, in Jordan and in California, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence.

Dean Hollerith, thank you for your warm welcome to the Washington National Cathedral.

Shaykh Hamza, and Professor Volf, and, my dear friend, Secretary General, thank you for your very, very generous words.

And a heartfelt thanks to Heather Templeton Dill, and the entire Templeton family and Foundation. May God reward the late Sir John for his tremendous legacy in affirming life’s spiritual dimension and upholding positive values worldwide. I truly wish I had met Sir John in person, but meeting his family, who are carrying on his work, is meeting the best of what he stood for.


Jordanian military supports pilgrimage to Christian holy places

RTX219GE-870Dr. Feras Haddad is a physician in the Jordanian military. He and his family were chosen to participate in a three-day pilgrimage tour with other Jordanian Christian military officials to Christian holy places in Palestine and Israel. So far, this newly implemented idea seems to be a one-time initiative by the Jordanian army.

“It is a great move and it was an amazing experience to see the Christian sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth,” Haddad told Al-Monitor.

Haddad, who visited Palestine before as part of military missions to Gaza and Ramallah, said the experience of visiting the religious sites was very special. “I have been to the Vatican, Brussels, Iraq’s Najav, but these visits dwarf in comparison with seeing the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,” the doctor said.

The trip to Palestine coincided with the annual Muslim hajj, in which hundreds of Jordanian military personnel are chosen annually to partake in the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. “The importance of this move,” Haddad said of the Christian sites tour, was that it provides for “equal opportunity” to all members of the Jordanian army.

According to a report by the Amman-based Catholic website Aboun.org, the pilgrimage of the Christian Jordanian officers took place Aug. 13 and included 24 Jordanian military officers and their families. Maj. Areej Hadaddin, a female officer, told the website that the trip, paid for by the Jordanian army, reflects in full the path of the country’s leadership. “This is the kind of activity that helps create the community spirit within the army for people from different backgrounds.”


King of Jordan wins Templeton Prize for fostering Muslim cooperation


(RNS) — King Abdullah II of Jordan has won the 2018 Templeton Prize for promoting dialogue and cooperation between Muslims of differing traditions.

Abdullah, king of Jordan since 1999, “has led a reclamation of Islam’s moderate theological narrative from the distortions of radicalism,” the John Templeton Foundation said Wednesday (June 27). The annual prize honors “a person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works,” the foundation said in a statement.

Among Abdullah’s contributions to religious understanding is his 2004 “Amman Message,” which “articulated a clear understanding of the central elements of Islam, and affirmed that terrorism and violence have no place in the religion,” said the foundation.

That message, developed when the Iraq War worsened relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, was expanded the next year when the king invited 200 Islamic scholars from 50 countries to Jordan. From those consultations emerged “Three Points of the Amman Message,” which recognized the validity of all eight of Islam’s legal schools and explicitly forbade declarations of apostasy, the foundation said.

Abdullah has also been a strong supporter of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, in Amman. The institute, established by Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, promotes scholarship with the aim of fostering understanding and cooperation among Muslims.


Jordan’s Muslims and Christians unite to celebrate Virgin Mary

A13AMMAN – In a call for peace, love and harmony among religions, known as the Amman Message, Muslims and Christians came together to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in Jordan.

Organised by the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media (CCSM), under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Prime Ministry Affairs Jamal Sarayreh, the March 25 event was hailed as a symbol of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.

“This is the first event that joins Muslims and Christians together in celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation. It aims at reasserting the deep values of the brotherly relations between Muslims and Christians in Jordan, a country of peace and understanding,” said CCSM Director Father Rif’at Bader.

“The event represents a continuation of the Amman Message, the Common Word Initiative and the World Interfaith Harmony Week. It sends a clear message to the world that religion, with its values of love, can really contribute to peacemaking and stability, as well as to the restoration of cohesion and harmony.”

The Amman Message was released by Jordanian King Abdullah II in 2004 focusing on what “Islam is and what it is not” and “what actions represent Islam and what actions do not.” King Abdullah said its goal was to “clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam.”