Abu Darwish Mosque

Abu Darwish Mosque detail
Abu Darwish Mosque detail

It’s September 6th today. It would be nice to have a “secretary” accompanying me on my daily jaunts to record the historical and cultural information I’m bombarded with and the names of the people I meet. Alas, I don’t have a secretary; therefore, I must organize my thoughts and document things on my own:

The wonderful Nahid, tour guide and taxi service
The wonderful Nahid, tour guide and taxi service

Zohreh and I went out today with our personal cab driver and tour guide, Nahid. Our first stop was at a beauty shop, Salibah, where Zohreh had her hair cut for 10 JD.

Zohreh at #1 haircut salon
Zohreh at #1 haircut salon

After the haircut we proceeded to the Abu Darwish Mosque:

Abu Darwish Mosque
Abu Darwish Mosque

It was built in 1961 and commissioned by the late King Hussein of Jordan and Mustafa Jakazi at the top of one of Amman’s seven hills, Jebel Al-Ashrafiyeh. Non-Muslims are generally not permitted inside, but the views on the way up are good. Its pattern of alternating black and white stones draw on traditional Levantine architecture. It can accommodate more than 7000 worshipers.

There is an intriguing story about the genesis of the mosque’s construction that involves two men: a Christian man and a Muslim who were best friends. They would get together and talk at the Muslim man’s bar (where liquor was served/consumed). As the years went by, and with much consumption of alcohol, their talks turned into arguments and the two men began arguing about everything while their friendship totally deteriorated. The two men then agreed to redeem their friendship to ensure its continuation by the Muslim man tearing down his bar and building a mosque instead, and the Christian man building a church. No more alcohol = no more disputes. It represents each of them going back to following the teachings of their respective religions, and in so doing, redeeming and strengthening their bond of friendship, which continued until the day each died. In my opinion, the conservative architecture of the Christian church, and the L.A. “Watts Tower-esque” architecture of the mosque, visually demonstrate the extreme differences between the personalities of the two men.

Regardless of their differences, religious practices and personal beliefs, the mosque and the church represent the beauty and richness that can only be created through unity in diversity.

We then went to Nancy’s shop, next to the Roman Theatre, where I bought my hand-embroidered Palestinian dress yesterday. I left my dress with her to have it shortened. Nancy’s father owns a store similar to hers in the Christian Quarter in Jerusalem. I am now wearing two rings that I bought in her shop, one of which is as a faux wedding ring. I am not a “ring” person, but an individual’s association with “family identity” is very important here. The idea of an older woman being single with no children is comparable to being a person without an identity here – a very sad and unfortunate state. Considering I’m happy, and feel extremely fortunate not to have a husband and kids, it’s psychologically easier to appear to be married rather than appearing to be a poor, lost soul thrown out to the wolves.

Before leaving the downtown area, Zohreh and I strolled through a few of the nearby shops. Today is Friday. On Fridays after noonday prayers in the mosques there are demonstrations in the downtown area. Considering Zohreh and I represent what is being protested, we ended our tour for the day and returned to our separate abodes. I am now at home, being my own secretary and eating the food in my pantry. My next tourist expedition will be to the Stop and Shop in the Paris Circle, hopefully tomorrow.

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