Jordan Traditions and Literature

Jordan Traditions


Like other countries belonging to the Arab world, Jordan boasts traditions and customs largely belonging to the Islamic culture. However, there is no lack of peculiarities, in different areas, which contribute to distinguish the country in various contexts. The cornerstone of society, especially that still excluded from progress, remains the extended family, with its own set of customs and practices of Bedouin origin. In urban realities, these extended family units give way to smaller and “western” models and nuclei in scenarios with the technological architectures typical of industrial societies. Still alive and essential is, in the traditional-rural dimension, the craftsmanship, whose techniques are handed down from generation to generation: from carpets to clothing, from jewelry to silver furnishings, from ceramics to leather work, there are few needs for which the residents of this “untouched” Jordan cannot do for themselves. Extensive evidence of Jordanian artisan productions and artifacts can be found in the Folklore Museum and in the Museum of Popular Tradition of ʽAmmān. Another privileged area for the survival of the historical memory of a culture is also the kitchen. If the bases remain rice, meat and spices, olive oil and yogurt must be added to the most common ingredients, essential elements to prepare, for example, the msakhan, with lamb or mutton, and mansaf, chicken with onions, among the dishes reserved for special occasions. Among the most heartfelt celebrations, in addition to those of the Islamic tradition, we remember the Independence Day (May 25), the Arm Day (June 10), the anniversary of the birth of King Ḥusain (November 14) who died in 1999.


According to campingship, Jordan is a country located in Asia. We can only speak of Jordanian literature since 1948, the year in which Jordan occupied and annexed part of Palestine. In reality, on the literary level, the situation of these two regions was very different due to the different political situation in which they found themselves. In Jordan the elite was mainly made up of native men from other countries who had followed the Emir ʽAbd Allāh from Mecca in 1923, while in Palestine, already during the mandate, the presence of numerous religious schools and seminaries had helped to improve the level cultural heritage of the country. However, already at the end of the nineteenth century there had been an encomiastic poem whose best representatives were Yūsuf an-Nabahānī (1850-?) And Salīm ben ash-Shaikh Ḥasān al-Yaʽqūbī (1880-1946). Another poet who remained faithful to traditional poetry, while preferring the monorima ode, it was Muṣṭafā Wahhabī aṭ-Ṭill (1897-1949), in whose poetry, full of melancholy and irony at the same time, love for his country and its people is vividly expressed; new themes of Arab freedom and Arab-Israeli tension appear in the poems of Isʽāf an-Nashāshībī (1882-1948) and even more so in the verses of many Palestinian poets who lived in Jordan, such as Ibrāhīm Ṭūqān (1905-1941) who, having foreseen with prophetic accents the Palestinian tragedy, he became one of the first singers of Arab patriotism together with ʽAbd ar-Raḥīm Maḥmūd (d. 1948) and Abū Salmā (1909-1980). Also of Palestinian origin are the poet Maḥmūd Ḥaydar and the writer Maḥmūd Shuqayr, who expresses in his stories the pain of Palestinian refugees in Jordan. al-Qalam al-Giadīd (The new pen). Deep connoisseur of Italian literature, he was responsible for the Arabic translation of many of our masterpieces. Galib Halasa (1932-1989) occupies a prominent place among the most important contemporary Jordanian writers, who played a leading role in the process of modernization of Arabic literature, both from a linguistic and content point of view. An important contribution to modern Jordanian literature was undoubtedly also made by Mounis al-Razzaz (1951-2002). Among the authors of short stories, a very widespread genre in contemporary Arabic literature, the writers Fahri Qu’war and ‘Uday Madanat emerge, whose most significant collection is Sabah al-hayr ayyatuha algarah (1991; Good morning, nearby), and the writer Basmà Nassur, who published the collection Nahwa al-wara (1991; Backwards) in Lebanon. ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān Munīf (1933-2004), born in Jordan to an Iraqi mother and Saudi father, should be remembered for his political commitment, the cause of the censorship and wanderings that saw him as a protagonist. In 1992 he was awarded the Sultan al-‘Uways prize, the highest literary honor in the Arab world; among his most important works Città di sale (1981-85, in five volumes). An important figure, for the international visibility she has been able to give to literature and cultural issues of the Arab world, is also Fadia Faqir (1956), Anglo-Jordanian writer and essayist, author of Pillars of Salt (2002) and A sage tea for Salma (2007).

Jordan Traditions