Jordan’s Muslims and Christians unite to celebrate Virgin Mary
AMMAN - 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.”
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is generally celebrated by Christians on March 25. The feast marks the Archangel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. The feast has been celebrated since the fifth century.
The Amman celebration this year was attended by government officials, ambassadors, members of parliament, representatives from the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, the Chief Islamic Justice Department, the Iftaa Department and churches in Jordan.
Sarayreh stressed unity among Jordanians of all faiths saying: “Since its establishment, Jordan has built a country based on the values of humanity that we all share.”
Osama Imseeh, 49, a Christian living in Amman, said the event sent a very important message to extremists.
“It is very important to celebrate together the Annunciation, which is also mentioned in the Holy Quran Surat Maryam Verses 1-98. These verses are agreeable to both Muslims and Christians. Our society should build on such an event and strengthen interrelations among communities even more,” Imseeh said.
“In Lebanon, the event became a national day and not a day for celebration by Christians only. These initiatives send a clear message to extremists everywhere and tell all those who object having such events that in the Holy Quran there is Surat Maryam and there are so many things that join us together more than separating us.”
Lebanon has been celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation at the national level for more than 12 years.
Imseeh hailed the “wise leadership of King Abdullah II” in spreading harmony in Jordan and in a region plagued with sectarian turmoil. He quoted the king as telling the UN General Assembly in 2016 that “Jesus is named 25 times in the Quran. His mother Mary, called the ‘best of all women in creation,’ is named 35 times.”
“The king said the extremists deliberately hide these truths about Islam in order to drive Muslims and non-Muslims apart… We as Christians thank him for his wise words,” Imseeh said.
“Today, Jordan is a kingdom where Christians and Muslims live and work side by side and share the ups and downs in the region. We can see many initiatives based on humanity more than religion and this is what makes this society great,” Bader said.
Sheikh Hamdi Murad, a professor at the World Islamic Science and Education University and co-founder of the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Centre said Christians and Muslims are “brothers and sisters.”
“The Feast of Annunciation is mentioned in both the Holy Quran and the Holy Bible and such an event brings closer both communities and prove that we are one people joined by humanity,” said Murad, who is a former under-secretary for Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
“What we saw on the day of the event is a step further in bringing harmony and cooperation among societies, which makes this kingdom a great place to live in.”
Christians account for about 4% of Jordan’s population of 10.2 million.