June 1, 2019
The original inhabitants of Jordan are the nomadic Bedouin people and many of their traditions still shape the culture, such as in the provision of hospitality. For example, a Bedouin rule is that a stranger must be welcomed for at least three days and provided with food and a place to sleep. In a time where prices for food and petrol increase constantly – with salaries remaining at the same level – this is a particular challenge. Poverty is on the rise.
Although most of the Jordanian population of almost 8 million is Muslim, there is a small percentage of Christians (estimated between 2.5 and 4%). However, Jordanian Christians often live in isolation from Muslims. When a Muslim becomes a follower of Christ, they experience strong pressure from family and society and are considered a traitor. Honor killings for this are not uncommon.
During Ramadan in Jordan, we were invited to dinner with Muslim friends with a buffet loaded with food. “Fatma, why is hospitality so important to you?” I asked my friend.
She replied: “For cultural and religious reasons. For one thing, it would be a cultural shame not to be generous to my guest. Also, I want to be generous to please God. Especially during Ramadan, there is a great chance that God will forgive us our sins and our good deeds will be multiplied before Him. I expect nothing back from the guests – I don’t want to get a worldly reward for my hospitality. I expect my reward from God!”
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