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.
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.