Dining with the King

(Guest post by Dave Parfitt.)

“My Lord, make this a peaceful land, and protect me and my children from worshiping idols.” – Qur’an 14:35

It came as no surprise to me, after being in countries before where this practice was commonplace, that in every building in the Kingdom of Jordan, regardless of it’s purpose, was adorned with a picture of King Abdullah II of Jordan in some pose or another (my personal favourite was him looking down the scope of a sniper’s rifle).

But just as it came as no surprise, it also struck me as highly hypocritical. Why? Well given the country’s stubborn adherence (legislatively and judicially) to Sharia Law, and the religion of Islam, it seemed to be an act which flew right in the face of the country’s own belief system and legal structure.

The meaning of this post will now become clear my friend, for the intention is to say that the practice of hanging (with) the King in your living room is little more than idolatry.

First we must break down the term idolatry into the simplest parts possible, and see if this application fits the definition. Idolatry is the worship of false idols, that is to say worship of anything but God itself (or Allah, if you prefer).

So first of all, is King Abdullah II of Jordan God? No source known to man diverges from the obvious response, no he is not.

Is worship of an image of ‘Dullah (I’ve dined in his “presence”, you know) then considered idolatry? Yes, if we take the premise that he is not God to be true. It also has added effect if we consider that the only reason that one would “worship” ‘Dullah is due to his social/political standing as the highest power in both realms in Jordan. So not only are you worshipping someone other than God, but you are worshipping someone for the sheer fact that they hold a unique role as supreme social and political power in Jordan – thus we can consture you are worshipping a higher, or even “supreme”, being.

But the crux of the argument comes down to this final and all-important premise: by having someone’s portrait in every building in a country constiute that country worshipping that person? For this, I will say unequivocally yes, but worship in a more passive sense. For even though you may not be praying to him nor speaking to him (this is discounting what would be a minute minority of nutcases), so not actively engaging in worship as such, the fact that you have him always in your presence and hold that presence to reverence because he is a “higher power” in some sense of the phrase, you are both being complict in his social/political hegemony and passively “worshipping” him.

So it seems that a nation of 7 million Muslims is committing idolatry. Oh dear, not incosistent, hypocritical religious practice. Not idolatry. Not now.

Then again consider this: none of us are innocent when it comes to idolatry. I’m looking at you man-wearing-crucifix. And you indie-kid-wearing-obscure-band-shirt. Hell I’m even looking at me, Mao-Zedong-bag-wearer. But there’s one major difference between the Jordanians and the crucifix-worshippers and the Indie Kid and I, they’re claiming adherence to a belief structure which explicitly prohibits idolatry, we’re not.

Over and out.

1 Comment Dining with the King

  1. The Morgan

    You do yourself a disservice calling out the Muslims before the Catholics. They usually claim only to "venerate" them, but you'd have to say that the treatment of Saints (and Mary) in Catholicism is clearly worship. And their very own bible is entirely clear about whether you should do that or not.


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