‘This is what it means to be a Muslim’ by Brave Muslim Leader; His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan: Educational lessons learned through the Speech of His Majesty

[06-09-2023 02:39 PM]
Omar M. Khasawneh

‘All my life’, as an ordinary citizen, I have never witnessed a Muslim Leader presenting the Religion of Islam the way King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Addressing the European Parliament (2015) had done. Away from hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness and as an individual who has nothing to do with politics, but all my life engaged in the field of education, I craved and desired to complement on the speech of His Majesty King Abdullah II that touched the bottom of my heart; “This is what it means to be a Muslim”, a statement, which I observed, a very educational discourse. Speaking about Islam the way King Abdullah II of Jordan has spoken other Muslim leaders might have wanted to do but never succeeded the way his majesty did. Skillfully, bravely, cleverly, and courageously, King Abdullah II presented the Religion of Islam in a brilliant manner and with a style.

For several years, I lived out of Jordan studying, teaching, and researching. Throughout those years, I had been and still is taking pride in the Jordanian leadership because while working and dealing with educated and refined individuals from whom I perceived and received feedback and comments showing magnificent respect in different occasions for His Majesty King Abdullah II, the leader of my beloved country- Jordan. The complements, praise, impressiveness, respect, and admiration regarding the speech of His Majesty were so incredible and superb as He began by stating:

My friends: People thrive where there is mutual respect. Civilization is built on it. Futures are better for it. But co-existence must be made, and made again, in every generation. The common good is defended only by vigilance and action. This means more than security measures. Humanity must arm itself with ideas, with justice and with economic and social inclusion (King Abdullah II, 2015).

His Majesty King Abdullah II continued:
I and countless other Muslims have been taught from our earliest years that our religion demanded respect and caring for others. The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.” This is what it means to be a Muslim (King Abdullah II, 2015).

‘This is what it means to be a Muslim’ what a great honor? I would be a remiss educator Jordanian citizen not to react to such marvelous speech. His Majesty King Abdullah II recognized his audience and His gracious relationship with them from the beginning of His speech, introducing a sense of faith, reciprocal obligation, mutual duty, and common responsibility. King Abdullah II also attempted and still tries to develop connections for the endeavor of unity and coexistence which as He said: “…must be made, and made again, in every generation”. He calls for all; expressing: “…The future lies in unity and respect, not division and stereotypes “(King Abdullah II, 2015). King Abdullah II, as a wise leader, shared his beliefs with his audience and the world through communicating:

Among the very names of God, we hear: The Compassionate, the All-Merciful. All my life, every day, I have heard and used the greeting, Assalamu Aleikum — a wish for the other to be blessed with peace. This is what it means to be a Muslim” (King Abdullah II, 2015).

His Majesty, the 41st generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad Peace Be upon Him, informed the European Parliament members that Muslim soldiers were instructed by Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him not to kill children, women, or the elderly, not to cut down trees, injure priests, or desecrate churches. Then, the King notified the audience that these Islamic values and beliefs learned in school call for not harming or degrading worship places, a mosque, a church, or a synagogue. ‘This is what it takes to become a Muslim’.

These are the values His Majesty conveys to His children, and He hopes they will pass on to their children. As the offspring of the Prophet Muhammad Peace and Blessings Be upon Him, King Abdullah II has initiated a great deal of efforts to promote peace and harmony within Islam and among the world's great religions which promotes peaceful coexistence between Muslims and other religions. His Majesty the King continued conveying that history, geography, and the future bind us together. Nobody should be able to split us apart; therefore, pillars of mutual respect which serve the common good for decades could be constructed. In Islam, non-opponents and captured opponents are not permitted to be slain. Muslims are banned from hurting wounded soldiers unless they are still attacking. Islamic law of war humanizes armed conflict by protecting the lives of non-combatants, acknowledging the dignity of enemy combatants, and prohibiting damaging to an opponent's property. “This is what it means to be a Muslim” (King Abdullah II, 2015).

“This is what it means to be a Muslim” as the King continued his speech on Islamic values and teachings learned from the Holy Book: “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors” (Qur'an 2:190). This verse is a solid evidence and clear indication in terms of educating Muslims to fight back, but not to transgress or break the law in the process. Excessive behavior, such as taking up arms against women, children, the elderly, and the injured, is condemned according to Islam. The Islamic perspective on combat is defensive, which means it should only be employed in self-defense or to protect helpless people from harm. Muslims around the world have a significant role in global understanding, He argued. His Majesty indicated:

Our faith, like yours, commands mercy, peace, and tolerance. It upholds, as yours does, the equal human dignity of every person — men and women, neighbors, and strangers. Those outlaws of Islam who deny these truths are vastly outnumbered by the ocean of believers (King Abdullah II, 2015).

Jordanians’ loyalty and allegiance must first be to the King and the Kingdom, to the land and common cause. Without love for the people and modesty, it is difficult to rule. The influence, power, and love of His Majesty King Abdullah II are ensured in Jordan due to his compassion, consistency, and kindness. The people of Jordan owe King Abdullah II and Queen Rania who treat Jordanians with great respect. The least Jordanians can do is to acknowledge the hard work the King and the Queen perform domestically as well as globally. Domestically, by means of investing in the people of Jordan then their future and internationally by means of representing the country of Jordan, as a peaceful nation on the world map. Peace, security, and safety that Jordanians enjoy throughout the Kingdom must be appreciated but not taken for granted. Thus, based on the teachings of His Majesty King Abdullah II, I desire to infer some great educational lessons learned from some speeches of His Majesty.

Educational lessons learned through the Speeches of His Majesty
To begin with, King Abdullah II clarified that ‘Education’ based on the message of Islam calls for tolerance and values, in terms of its reference framework and vision of Arabism and noble humanity which is the base Jordan has been built on. The King teachings as mentioned in several articles, for example Shalabi, & Alrajehi, (2011), imply that teachers are essential educational implications to attain accomplishment in developing and improving the educational process. They play a vital role as developers, mentors, and curriculum designers, role models before their students, and classroom leaders who pave the way for future of their beloved country. They are to prepare free and educated citizens who can speak up for what they believe is true, and who understand their country is built through the hard work of her future well prepared citizens. Great challenges are handled with a strong determination and dedication to a country that knows no fear, hesitancy, disconnectedness, or narrow mindedness.

For the international family to succeed in understanding one another and respecting the otherness, His majesty stated at the outset of his great speech that “(P)eople thrive where there is mutual respect. Civilization is built on it. Futures are better for it.” To achieve this mutual respect, his majesty’s call for young people centered on three pillars that can be summarized as follows:
1.Interfaith outreach. This can be achieved by dialogue amongst people where they live, stopping the rise of Islamophobia and clarifying the essence of “what it means to be a Muslim.”

2.Adopting an international system that rests on one standard applicable to all. When one strong nation attacks its weaker neighbor, occupies and annexes its land, create mass refugees and destroys the culture and foundations of their ancestors, the whole world should rise in condemning such actions and work diligently in stopping such aggression. Failure to do so “sends a dangerous message. It erodes trust in international law and community.”

3.Create deeper hope. This is so important for all people in general but particularly for the younger generation to feel included and have economic security that without it radicalization will thrive. As the third major point of His majesty’s speech, he emphasized that “(H)elping them is a powerful message of respect.”

The above three points were presented to the respected members of the European Parliament in a clear concise way, not unlike a teacher addressing a class of young people eager to learn from a learned and gifted presenter.

The interconnectedness between the several educational philosophies and democracy call for a democratic attitude that would enable learners to enjoy freedom of thought, expression, and standing on the right side, promoting a stance for humanity and what is right and logical. Students should be able to participate in open discussions, freely exercising their thoughts and expressing their patriotism in a safe environment, conducive to proper learning. A revision process must begin to remove anything that is improper for the stage and to guarantee that educational growth remains current in accordance with the spirit of the stage. As the future of humanity, students have a critical role in guiding the world in the correct path His Majesty King Abdullah II argued. Definitely, a major role of students throughout schools and colleges could guide the world in the correct path. Their role is a critical educational implementation which inspires me as an ordinary Jordanian citizen involved in the field of education.

As an ordinary Jordanian citizen involved in the field of education, I yearned and desired to thank His Majesty King Abdullah II on his speech, "This is what it means to be a Muslim," which pierced the bottom of my heart, a sentence that I found to be really enlightening. King Abdullah II portrayed the religion of Islam in a brilliant, brave, smart, and fearless manner. Jordan, my beloved nation, is ruled by His Majesty King Abdullah II whose address to the European Parliament in 2015 gained widespread acclaim, appreciation, impressiveness, respect, and passion received from some of my colleagues out of Jordan. What an honor to watch and listen to the leader of Jordan stating: "This is what it means to be a Muslim". I'd be a thoughtless Jordanian educator and citizen not to respond to such a wonderful speech. From the start of His address, His Majesty King Abdullah II acknowledges his audience and His gracious relationship with them, instilling a sense of faith, reciprocal commitment, mutual duty, and shared responsibility. King Abdullah II tried and continues to try to build links since the effort of unity and coexistence must be undertaken in every generation. He urges everyone to voice the belief that the future resides in togetherness and respect, not separation. As an ideal leader, King Abdullah II communicated His ideals to His audience and the rest of the globe.

King Abdullah II, as a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), has made significant efforts to promote peace and harmony within Islam and among the world's great religions. His Majesty King Abdullah II suggested that educational institutions must believe in the inexhaustible energy, prospective abilities, and different capabilities of children in order to create a more promising future. Educational institutions have a responsibility to help young men and women develop and channel these traits, allowing them to reach their full potential. Instead of rote learning, new teaching approaches should be used to develop critical and logical thinking. In addition to theory and practice, these techniques should incorporate analysis and preparation.

Conclusion and Recommendations
Ruled by the Hashemite leadership, guardians of the Muslim adhering to preserving Islamic holy sites as well as Christian holy places in Jerusalem (Al-Dhmour, 2021), Jordan is a country pursuing peace, reconciliation, justice, economic and social inclusion and that could be more than ‘security measures’ His Majesty King Abdullah II clarified. King Abdullah II also clarified that co-existence must be made, and made again, in every generation. Pankhurst (1999) and Porter (2015) in Khasawneh & Al-Jamal (2017) argued that peace and reconciliation tie with justice and justice in addition to reconciliation which is important to peace-building. According to Islam, the Divine law originates peace and reconciliation among people in society: “The believers are nothing else than brethren. So make reconciliation amongst your brethren, and fear Allah that you may receive Mercy” (AL-Hujurat, 10). This social value bond all society members together for peace and justice leading to mutual social surroundings built on agreement and coalition not segregation and harm. Coalition, cooperation, agreement could lead to justice (Khasawneh & Al-Jamal 2017).

Justice entails giving all individuals equal opportunities to achieve their fullest potential in order to build a just society. King Abdullah II argued that only ‘vigilance and action’ would protect and secure the ‘common good’. Thus, spending time, money, and effort attempting to resolve unanticipated issues would not be the only alternative. People need to reevaluate what the meaning of equality and justice is. In order to realize the vision of justice and equality, each person, particularly students, must identify their goals.

Should the individual have morality, compassion, and legal compliance, they are considered just. A just person demonstrates virtue toward others. Fulfilling each person's proper obligations is central to the concept of justice. It must have implications for a "Just State", in which social classes and individuals have defined responsibilities to their community. The Holy Quran Says: “If two factions (groups) among the believers should fight, then …make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly” (AL-Hujurat, 9). Justice is the first major social action that is presented in this verse. In addition to how the Holy Quran honors, the Bible is another spiritual holy book that sees justice as a fundamental social issue. The Bible states: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause” (Isaiah 1:17). “…

Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, … or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9- 10). Therefore, according to the teachings of the Bible, Mankind is commanded and instructed to judge righteously and to defend the rights of the unfortunate and underprivileged. “… judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).

Once more, the Bible offers a perfect example of how justice should be applied to all people living in this region: “… Do justice and righteousness …And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place” (Jeremiah 22:3). Additionally, the verbal deduction is a major thought of pragmatics employed to include a general class of pragmatic and semantic phenomena that have an essential impact on sounds awkwardness. His Majesty specified pragmatic and semantic phenomena as a great educational lesson helping His audience in terms of what they are likely to know or could realize, what should be presented and clarified interestingly. Generally, the language of King Abdullah II demonstrated a substantial role in conveying messages in addition to clarifications about the religion of Islam. According to Duffley (2014), the language of political speeches commonly could only be understood by governmental or political individuals or those who are acquainted with such speeches because their language could be looked upon with vagueness meaning.

Justice is connected to peace and reconciliation. Legislative politicians should strive for peace and reconciliation because justice and reconciliation are necessary for fostering peace (Pankhurst, 1999; Porter, 2015). The degree to which these ideas and actions are interconnected is demonstrated by personal tales of encounters with peace, justice, and reconciliation (Porter, 2015). Ancient thinkers had traditionally observed the idea of peace and reconciliation. A decent man cannot be completely happy when old age and poverty are coupled, and no amount of money can ever make a bad man at peace with himself, according to Plato (The Republic, 427–347 B.C., 19). A successful and real believer, from Islamic perspective, is one who enjoys harmony both within and without. The Devine Laws have mandated this social action. Devine Law demands for Peace and Reconciliation, and "Virtue," a "Divine Benefit," is to be highly prized in part because it fosters peace and security (Stalley, 1983). According to modern legal theories, justice aids in healing on a psychological level and is ultimately very therapeutic for reconciliation and the peace process (Manwelo, 2016).

The Holy Quran mentions the establishment of peace and reconciliation amongst individuals in society as a Divine mandate in the verse that follows: "The believers are nothing but brethren. Make peace among your brothers and fear Allah so that you may be granted mercy (AL-Hujurat, 10). The verse, according to Maududi (1976), is urging sincere believers to resolve disputes amicably and decisively among themselves because they are all fellow believers and should do so if they arise. Brotherhood among real believers may be forged in large part via resolution and reconciliation.

The verse highlighted peace and reconciliation in the event of disagreements and conflicts between believers and addressed the subject of brotherhood among them. Muslims in social settings are brothers and sisters, and as such, they should participate in social interactions in order to prevent conflicts and fights between groups. The harmonious social surroundings created by this social principle are built on caring and cooperation rather than exclusion and mistreatment. It unites all members of society for peace and justice.

Based on readings and listening to His Majesty’s speeches not only once but several times this piece of literature has been accomplished. Upon completion of this complimentary reflection, I would like to provide some recommendations to Jordanians, in general, and to school and university instructors. First and foremost, the people of Jordan need to realize that His Majesty King Abdullah II is tirelessly working hard to represent His people and present His peaceful Islamic faith and values precisely and accurately worldwide. This is what it means to be a King. Second, since many lessons could be extracted from His Majesty’s speeches, that are related to different areas of study, those concerned university faculty members must refer to such educational lessons, each in her/his field, and incorporate His Majesty’s teachings in their lectures and/or discussions. This could produce quality graduates if schoolteachers and university professors convey these teachings to their students. Additionally, similar writings, and/research must be conducted by university researchers regarding His Majesty’s speeches and referring to a variety of related references.

The writer is Associate Professor in Educational Foundations at Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan.

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