Clashing Civilizations in the Amman Morgue


Death is the great equalizer, and I certainly saw a cross-section of the people of Jordan as I sat waiting in the Amman morgue for a few hours on Shabbat morning.

A Palestinian-Jordanian sheikh with a silver beard and a white robe, when he learned we were helping children go to Israel for heart surgeries, told me with a smile that the Jews would only survive another seven or ten years.

“If we love Abraham, we will love all of his children,” I replied.

“We don’t hate anyone,” he assured me. “But this is the will of God. It is written!”

His younger relative joined the conversation. “Besides, these aren’t really Jews, they are Zionists.”

In my mind, this conversation represents the wave of Islamism which is taking power across the Arab world in the wake of popular revolutions: triumphal and not easily confused by the facts (see this example from a cleric close to the new Egyptian president).

But….is that the whole story of the Muslim world?

A doctor questioned us carefully, perhaps spurred on by the group’s suggestion that the Jews may have stolen some organs from the body of the child we were escorting home after an unsuccessful surgery.

But then the doctor suggested we go into another room, where a lovely, heartfelt conversation opened up about religion, grace, and how we will answer when we stand individually before our Creator.

This to my mind represents a concurrent wave coming to the region. Truth is being shared. Facts are being weighed. Sincere men have seen religion and found it wanting. And when the first wave has spent itself, the second wave will roll in with power.