Eye of Two Hurricanes: HM King Abdullah II has become a central figure in the two most consequential conflicts in the Islamic World: the conflict over Palestine and the conflict in Syria and Iraq with DA’ISH. The King is thus in the eye of two hurricanes.
Jordan controls the southern flank of Syria and the southwestern flank of Iraq. With the Kurds now limiting DA’ISH’s ambitions to the north; Iran and Shia Iraq limiting them to the east; and with DA’ISH coming up against the rebels in the northwest and the Alawite/Hizbollah strongholds in the southwest, the crucial upcoming stage of the conflict will very much depend on King Abdullah II and Jordan. Jordan stands literally and figuratively between DA’ISH and Saudi Arabia–especially since Saudi Arabia is currently occupied with another war to its south, in the Yemen. As Jordan goes, so will go Saudi Arabia, and then the rest of the Islamic World.
Jordan is also the frontline Arab-Islamic state with Israel; the one with the largest border and one of only two states (the other being Egypt) with a finalised peace treaty with Israel. The King is using his inherited peace treaty with Israel to mediate a solution between Israel and Palestine and to protect the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and Compound of which he is the Official Custodian.
Finally, Jordan stands at the greatest geographical crossroads in the world–the land crossroad between Asia, Africa and Europe. It is also wedged between Mecca and Medina to the south and Jerusalem to the west, and therefore is part of the blessed land that the Qur’an mentions (Al-Isra, 17:1) as being ‘around’ the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Classically, it was at the crossroads and trade routes of the great ancient high civilizations: Sumer and Babylon; Persia; Egypt and Greek and Roman amongst others. Today, it stands at the crossroads between five different and competing larger regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey to the north and Iran to the east. What Jordan does (and what happens to Jordan) will tip the balance between these powers one way or another–or will keep the healthy buffer between them.
Politically and religiously the King represents the exact antithesis of DA’ISH. Though the King is not a religious scholar and personally very discrete in his piety, he–and the Jordanian religious establishment–never stray from traditional Hanafi/Shafi’i Orthodoxy, in contrast to the free-wheeling, anti-madhhabism of Wahhabism and Syed Qutb thought. In even starker contrast (to the takfirism of DA’ISH) is King Abdullah’s traditional ‘big tent’ plural vision of Islam–as seen in the historical consensus on ‘the Amman Message’ in 2004-2005, which he personally spearheaded (see below).
Personally also, the polarity could not be more marked. King Abdullah’s humane, open, friendly, modest, honest, and compassionate style of rule could not be more different from the brutal barbarity and deceptive titanic pretences and propaganda flowing out of DA’ISH. The king is also Western-educated (he attended Sandhurst, and studied at Georgetown and Oxford Universities and has honorary PhDs from both), and he is openly comfortable with all cultures. This is in stark contrast to DA’ISH s schizophrenic anti-western vitriol on the one hand and its addiction to Western information technology, movies and video-games on the other. Finally, the king is a quiet but committed family-values man with one wife (see entry on HM Queen Rania) and four children–the exact antipode of DA’ISH with their sanctimonious sexual enslavement and rape of women and their free jihadi-wife inter-circulation.
Perhaps the only thing King Abdullah has in common with DA’ISH is that he is ready for war, having been a professional soldier and Commander of the Jordanian Special Forces before becoming king. But even then, his vision of war–as a defensive necessity and not as a means to eliminate those with different views–is a far more humane and regulated one than that of DA’ISH’s.
HM King Abdullah II is the constitutional monarch of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and the Supreme Commander of the Jordan Arab Army: reportedly the best army, man for man, in the Arab World. He is also the Custodian of the Muslim and Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem. March 2013 saw the signing of a historic treaty which officially reaffirmed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s custodianship of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem. The treaty was signed by HM King Abdullah II and HE President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine. This treaty makes formal a situation which has existed since 1924 and enables both countries to jointly legally protect the Holy Sites in Jerusalem against official and unofficial Israeli incursions, destruction and illegal annexation.
Prophetic Lineage: King Abdullah II is a 41st generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad through the line of the Prophet’s grandson Al-Hasan. The Hashemite Family, the Hashemites or Banu Hashem, are descendants of the Arab Chieftain Quraysh, a descendant of the Prophet Ismail, son of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Hashem was the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandfather, thus the Hashemites are direct descendants of the Prophet through his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali ibn Abi Taleb, who was the Prophet’s paternal first cousin and the fourth Caliph of Islam. The Hashemite Dynasty is the oldest ruling dynasty in the Islamic World, and the second-oldest in the world, after that of Japan. As the current bearer of the Hashemite legacy, HM King Abdullah II has a unique prestige in the Islamic World.
Majalla Law: 80% of Jordan’s laws are based on the Ottoman Majalla and hence on traditional Hanafi Shari’a. Jordan has a Chief Mufti; official Muftis in every province; Army and Police Grand Muftis and Shari’a Courts for all personal status issues for Muslims (such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and so on). Yet it has Orthodox-Priest-run courts for its native Christian population in Christian personal status issues, and Jordan guarantees Christian seats in the Parliament and de facto at every level of government. It has civil law for all citizens and additional tribal laws and customs for tribesmen and tribeswomen (who make up over half the native population). Jordan does not have corporeal punishment; it has capital punishment for murder and other capital offenses. However, with the exception of two terrorism offenses and nine particularly horrendous murders, the King has suspended capital punishment since March 2006 whilst instituting a comprehensive program of judicial retraining and reform. Abd Al-Razzaq Sanhouri, the great Egyptian Islamic Constitutional Scholar of the Twentieth Century, described Jordan’s basic laws and Constitution as the most traditionally Islamic in the world.
International Influence: HM King Abdullah II has effectively promoted Jordan’s positive moderating role not only in the Arab and Muslim Worlds but also in the world at large. He has worked tirelessly towards the establishment of a just and lasting comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and established Jordan’s role as a regional power broker. He has also reached far beyond his borders to East Africa, East Asia and Central and South America. King Abdullah is now the third longest-serving of the leaders of the 21 Arab States–behind Oman’s Sultan Qaboos and Sudan’s President Bashir–ruling for over 16 years. This longevity in office–and accumulated experience and contacts–has led to an increased influence internationally.
Reformer: HM King Abdullah’s progressive vision for Jordan is based on political openness, economic and social development, and the Islamic values of goodwill and tolerance. Under his reign, and during the Arab Spring, Jordan has witnessed sweeping constitutional changes (one third of the Constitution was amended), and political and social reforms aimed at increasing governmental transparency and accountability. Jordan does not have a single political prisoner, and there are several vibrant opposition currents in Jordan. The advancement of civil liberties and the efforts to institutionalize democratic and political pluralism in Jordan under King Abdullah II have made Jordan one of the most progressive and stable countries in the Middle East.
King Abdullah has always been particularly interested in economic reform and development in Jordan. Among his most successful economic initiatives over the years are Free Trade Agreements with the US (which has led to job-creating Free Trade Zones inside Jordan); the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (which has led to billions of dollars in investment and trade in the port city of Aqaba; the computer-literacy educational initiative (which has made Jordan a leading hub regionally and even worldwide in the IT sector); and the Affordable Housing Project (which has led to tens of thousands of new homes for Jordanians). In his quest to make Jordan economically prosperous, King Abdullah has convened the World Economic Forum (WEF) many times in Jordan and tirelessly tried to improve the Jordanian economic climate for investors.
Islamic Outreach: In response to growing Islamophobia in the West in the wake of 9/11 and rising sectarian strife, King Abdullah II launched the Amman Message initiative (see page XX), which was unanimously adopted by the Islamic World’s political and temporal leaderships. In total, over 500 leading Muslim scholars endorsed the Amman Message and its three points. This was an unprecedented historic religious and political consensus (ijma’) of the Islamic Ummah (nation) in modern times, and a consolidation of traditional, orthodox Islam. King Abdullah II is also credited with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought’s most authoritative website on the Holy Qur’an and Tafsir (www.altafsir.com). He also founded the new World Islamic Sciences and Education University in Jordan (www.wise.edu.jo) in 2008. In 2012, King Abdullah II set up integrated professorial chairs for the study of the work of Imam Ghazali at the Aqsa Mosque and Imam Razi at the King Hussein Mosque (see page XXX). And in 2014, he established a fellowship for the study of love in religion at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.
Interfaith Outreach: HM King Abdullah II is also lauded as an interfaith leader for his support of the 2007 A Common Word initiative–a groundbreaking initiative in Christian-Muslim engagement (www.acommonword.com). He was also the initiator and driving force behind the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week Resolution (see www.worldinterfaithharmonyweek.com), marking the first week of February as an annual celebration of peace and harmony between faiths. He also set up the King Abdullah II Prize for the best event worldwide during that week. In 2014 HM King Abdullah hosted HH Pope Francis in Jordan (having previously hosted both HH Pope Benedict XVI and HH Pope John Paul II). In 2015 the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ on Jordan’s River Bank was unanimously voted a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thus, at the same time that DA’ISH was destroying Syria and Iraq’s historical and archaeological treasures, King Abdullah was preserving not just Muslim Holy Sites, but Christian Holy Sites and universal historical treasures as well. The King was also active in trying to protect the minority religious communities not just in Jordan, but in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
Safe Haven: Jordan has around 2 million registered and unregistered refugees from Syria and Iraq and other regional conflicts (such as Libya and Yemen), in addition to around 2 million refugees from the Palestine conflict. Jordan is the largest refugee host in the world, and by far the largest host per capita and per population. It bears this burden largely alone. Despite its paucity of resources, Jordan has welcomed and accommodated a staggering number of refugees and is seen by many as the most stable country in a turbulent region. Jordan houses Za’atari Camp, the second largest refugee camp in the world.
Birth: 30 January 1962 (Age: 54)
Influence:King with authority over approximately 7 million Jordanians and outreach to Traditional Islam.
Status: Featured in current year
The fact is, humanity is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbour; to love the good and neighbour « View more quotes
generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
▼ View More Stats ▼
Stay up to date on the latest developments with the Muslim 500. We'll never share your email with others.
Please leave your suggestions for improving the Muslim 500 here: