TRADITIONS

"As soon as tradition has come to be recognized as tradition, it is dead."

- Allan Bloom

Only few Bedouin societies in Jordan have remained Christian since the early Islamic period and the rest are Sunni Muslims. Islam is a way of life and is deeply anchored in daily life, traditions and celebrations.

The Five Pillars of Islam are the declaration of faith, the five daily ritual prayers, almsgiving, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Most Bedouin observe the fast of Ramadan, perform the obligatory prayers and celebrate the two major Islamic holidays Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. The 'Hajj' (the pilgrimage to Mecca) is important for them but

nowadays only few Bedouin, living outside of Saudi Arabia, can afford to do so. In earlier day’s individual piety was sometimes reflected in the number of pilgrimages an individual managed to undertake. Bedouin (and Muslims in general) variously believe in Jinn (the presence of spirits), some playful and others malevolent, that interfere in the life of humans. Hasset (the envious, evil eye) is also very real to the Bedouin and children are believed to be particularly vulnerable. For this reason, they might have protective amulets attached to their clothing or hung around their necks. In Islam the

existence of ogresses and monstrous super naturals is postulated, known as Maleika Al Ard (Kings of the Earth) and Bedouin believe they are sometimes met by lone travelers in the desert. There is no formal clergy in Islam and no centre of 'priests'. Every Muslim has its own direct relationship with Allah. Bedouin societies have no formal religious specialists. They traditionally arrange for religious specialists, called Shaykh or Sjeikh, from adjacent settled regions to spend several months a year with them to teach the young. A rural or settled religious specialist that Bedouins seek out for

curative and preventative measures is called a Gatib. (This is not the same as a Hakim, which is a Bedouin doctor/healer is, who specializes in herbal and traditional healing.) In addition many Bedouin tend to have ceremonies and rituals including elaborate celebrations of weddings, ritual naming of newborn infants and the circumcision of boys. According to Islam Bedouin ritually slaughter a goat or a sheep when a child is born and their family is invited to eat the prepared meat together (Foo-ela). A newborn child is made a household member through

rites of seclusion and purification, which new mothers observe for between seven and forty days after childbirth. Hospitality is extensively ritualized. Guests are ritually incorporated into their hosts' households for 3 days - even in case of (armed) conflict - and guests must be protected as if they were family members.

Bedouin of South Sinai visit tombs of

(local) saints. They only worship Allah and these journey's are more important to consolidate the ties to the tribe and the tombs serve as a meeting place. Islamic tradition

dictates the practices associated with death. The body is buried as soon as possible and always within 24 hours. Funeral rites are very simple and Bedouins mark their graves with exeptional simplicity, placing an ordinary stone (or unmarked board) at the head of the grave, where family regularly place a fresh leaf of a palm tree. When they visit the graves, they take off their shoes and say a prayer, after which they often sit around the graves and eat fruit. Children playing around the cemetery usually get a (sweet) treat from visitors.

Source: Veiled Sentiments (1986) - L. Abu Lughod; BEDAWI - R.W. de Jong

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