>So, I was thinking the other day about how different the experience I have living in Amman is from many of my friends. I have a group of friends who are the most lovely ladies. They are, for the most part, American Muslim ladies who wear hijab and jilbab. You can imagine how incongruous this sight is. They are also good Muslims who are faithful and devout. Frankly they have shown me what Islam should be about, something I see far too rarely in a culturally Muslim place (just as I see far too little of what Christianity is about in culturally Christian America). But our experience of Amman is very different.
Here’s what I was pondering. These ladies live in environments that are mostly populated with devout Muslims who live their faith. They see an Amman that celebrates Ramadan with fasting and is mostly devout Muslims. But, that’s not the real Amman (so I was thinking).
After all, I live in Amman too. And here’s the Amman I see. It is mostly non-practising Muslims who have no actual relationship with their faith. They neither pray nor celebrate Ramadan. They wear the same kinds of clothing as the Christians that I see. As an illustration of this Amman, a few years ago, I worked for a company that was maybe 50/50, maybe 60/40 Muslims/Christians. When Ramadan came, the Muslims in the company (of whom only maybe 5 regularly prayed) watched each other to see how Ramadan would be observed. One Day 1, everyone was fasting. One Day 2, the 5 who regularly prayed were fasting. Yep, within one day the majority of the company was outside smoking in the back (not visible from the road). Their observance of Ramadan would have been purely social.
So, as I was thinking about this, I realized something very interesting. The Amman that they see isn’t real. It’s a subculture within Amman. And, you know, the Amman I see is no more real. It is a subculture as well, a subculture that makes Amman appear mostly Christian (and at 3 or so percent of the population, clearly that’s not real). And, somewhere in between lies the real Amman. But, how easy is it for us to get caught up in the city-view, the world-view that is our own? Stay tuned in the future for some thoughts on our world-view as part of the majority, which this thought process here inspired. At any rate, I do wonder how many people live within these little subcultures (or big ones) and never see beyond the edges?
Happy Fake Amman!