Middle East Sabbath

Though today is Friday, it is the Sabbath in Jordan.  We follow the Muslim Sabbath, so today is our sabbath as well.  Today, I drove through a neighborhood in Amman where there were a bunch of cars parked along the street.  I wondered what all the hubbub was about, then quickly realized that I was near a mosque.  Men were pouring into the mosque for their midday prayers.  It was a very inspiring sight.

I have been inspired a lot by Muslims since moving to Jordan, 15 months ago.  I’m inspired by their attitude toward prayer.  Muslims pray five times a day.  They often go to the mosque to pray.  Many choose to pray at their mosque during the week, not just on the Sabbath.  But most prayers are done at home, work, or even out in the public.  It’s not uncommon to see men praying by the side of the road, in a store, at our children’s school.  It’s very common to find someone praying behind the counter in my favorite produce stand.  Muslims men aren’t embarrassed to show their devotion to Allah in public.  It’s very impressive.  I have tried to pray more earnestly and more often since moving here.

Muslim women show their religious convictions in their dress.  Most Muslim women dress very modestly–long sleeve shirts and long pants or skirts to the ground.  Many choose to wear a headscarf.  Most choose the hijab which covers their head and neck.  A few wear the niqab which covers their face, but leaves their eyes exposed.  It’s rare to see a full burqa in Jordan.  Many women wear an abaya over their clothes.  I occasionally hear stories of women who wear these because they are forced to by a father, brother or husband.  But I honestly believe that most wear them by their own choice.  I’m impressed by this outward manifestation of their religious convictions.  Since moving here, I have tried to become more modest in my dress.

We’re in the midst of our bidding cycle for our next post.  I’ve been watching the trends toward bidding on Jason’s position in Jordan.  It makes me a bit sad that few are choosing to bid on Amman.  I think that many people are afraid of what is going on in the Middle East right now.  Though I understand the fear, I have to say that I have not felt in danger for even one second since I moved to Jordan.  The Arabs and Palestinians in Jordan have been nothing but warm, kind, and hospitable to me and my family.  They are truly peaceful people.  Their religion preaches peace.  Extremists are the minority.  They represent such a tiny percentage of Muslims.  And the Jordanian government has tried to crack down on extremists.  The Muslims that I know are just as dumbfounded by groups like ISIS as I am.  They don’t understand the hate and extremism anymore than I do.

When we lived in Taiwan, I loved going into temples and observing the worship of Buddhists and Taoists. Here in Jordan, I love observing the worship practices of the Muslims.  I feel that I am a better Mormon and a better Christian because of their examples.  Observing religious observance of any religion is always inspiring and beautiful.

Happy Sabbath!

One of my favorite mosques near our home.
One of my favorite mosques near our home.

2 thoughts on “Middle East Sabbath

  1. Hi Erin,
    My husband and I have been following your post. We are hoping to arrive in Amman in April, 2015. We have learned so much from your post. Please contact me via my email address if you can. I would love to chat with you about some things.

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