In this comprehensive address to the Jordanian people, His Majesty spoke candidly of his hopes for a future of freedom and democracy in Jordan and throughout the Arab World. He said that the future of countries should not be tied to individuals, that a new era of freedom, pluralism and human rights must commence in the Arab World, and that Arabs must be liberated from tyrants, dictatorships and totalitarian regimes.
The speech was especially significant, as King Hussein said publicly for the first time that he had been treated for cancer. After successful surgery at the Mayo Clinic in August, the king returned home to a thunderous welcome on September 24, when over one million Jordanians poured out into the streets of Amman in a spontaneous show of affection. In this speech, King Hussein expressed his gratitude to Jordanians for their welcome, and said: The life of enlightened people and a vibrant nation cannot be measured by the life of an individual.
Reiterating his commitment to the democratic process in Jordan, His Majesty said that Jordan would further strengthen its democratic foundations so that it will remain the land of the free . . . a land of responsibility whose people recognize balance in all things. He warned against extremism, recklessness, and involving the army in politics.
King Hussein appealed to Jordanians to launch a new and comprehensive Arab movement in education and culture, in politics, agriculture and industry; in the protection of rights and in the drive to liberate ourselves from dictatorships, from totalitarian regimes and from a rule by a single faction. The king appealed to Arabs to stand up to the ambitious, and to the renegades; to protect its capitals from those who would advocate tyranny or who would tie the destiny of nations to individuals.
This speech is considered to be one of His Majestys most noteworthy addresses of the 1990s.
Address to the Nation
November 5, 1992
(Translated from the original Arabic)
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
God's Blessing and Salvation be upon the Faithful Arab Prophet and all his Kin and Companions.
Peace be with you, and God's mercy and his blessings. I thank Almighty God for his blessings and great bounty in making of this country a free and secure haven, as well as in bestowing upon me good health and enabling me to return to my people and my tribe. I seek the Almighty's help in all matters pertaining to this present world and to the hereafter. On him I depend and in him I place my sole trust.
I wish on this occasion to speak to you from the heart. When medical tests, conducted to ascertain the state of my health, revealedas I was promptly and openly told by the doctors at the Hussein Medical Citythe presence of abnormal cells, requiring in the doctors' views that I seek urgent attention at a medical center with a worldwide reputation in the treatment of the ailment from which I was suffering, it was not difficult for me to realize that these were cancerous cells. I thank God for what he had ordained for me and put my trust in Him, as has always been my wont throughout my life. I placed myself at His command and prayed that He preserve my country and my good people and reward them with the greatest recompense on my behalf. For it was Almighty God who honored me with being part of this Jordanian, Arab and Hashemite patrimony, and of this family with which I have lived and for which I have sought at every moment of my life to achieve glory, security and dignity.
As I left the cherished soil of Jordan, you were with me, providing great moral and spiritual support. When I bade you farewell on the morning of August 17 on my way to my ordained destination, the images of our shared progress were uppermost in my mind, crowding out all others and relieving the arduousness of a long journey. I knew that you were with me as I traversed the oceans to a land that seemed so distant only because of the miles that separated me from you. Over and over again, I recalled our joined journey across the soil of Jordan, so dear to us all, as well as your goodness and patience over a period of forty years, which never suffered from any diminution of strength or reprise of determination or flickering of the great Jordanian anthem of joy.
Peace be with you and greetings to you wherever you may be and whichever position you may occupyto the elderly, to parents, to mothers and children, to teachers, students, soldiers, farmers, and laborers. Words cannot do justice to your true deserts, nor can they express my appreciation, thanks and gratitude for the true and noble feelings you have shown me. You have surrounded me with true emotion, realized through a display of flags and posters in every corner of this beloved land. For on the afternoon of Thursday, September 24, you wove a Jordanian fabric which united us all, as you set out to welcome your brother and son, the companion of your struggleHussein. I now feel that the Almighty has seen fit to honor me during my lifetime, enabling me to witness these noble sentiments, echoed as well by Arab and Muslim brethren in our great nation and by good friends around the world, of all nationalities, shades of opinion and age groups. To them all I extend my sincere thanks, my greetings and affection. Even now I recall this great outpouring of emotions. And I feel at peace as I read God's words in His Holy Book addressed to his loyal Prophet:
"By the glorious morning light, and by the night when it is still - thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken these, nor is he displeased. And verily the hereafter will be better for thee than the present. And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee thou shalt be well pleased."
I find great succor in this profound love that prevails between me and this great family. It has ruled my mind and conscience since I was destined to know who I am: A Hashemite Arab, a son of the immortal city of Amman, where I was born fifty-seven years ago. I had realized from the outset that vanity was a fatal affliction and that the only life worth adhering to was one representing a journey of struggle in the service of exalted values and noble aims, one that recognizes that every living soul will meet its destined end, for which there always is a good account. When the time comes, no hour could be postponed or brought forward. The true believer is he who has faith in the one God who has no partners, he who respects the rights and freedoms of others, he who has lived his life in submission to God's will, in gratitude for His countless blessings and in the conviction that man can only do his best by fulfilling his mission with honor and rectitude and through beseeching God, ruler of the heavens and earth, to honor him with a verdict in his favor by generations to come. I have lived with you, among you and for you. Each of you has a special place in my heart and mind. My joy is your joy and my pain is tied to your suffering. It could not be otherwise, because you have been to me a father, brother and uncle, a mother, sister and aunt, a friend and companion. I have witnessed your patience over the years and I have tested my own patience when the Almighty chose to try me through my recent illness. I anchored my spirit in you and in the patience of the Kerbalites of Al al-Beit*. I beseeched God to help me, through my affliction, provide the people with an example of patience and endurance, counting me among those who have endured with patience and have placed their trust in the Almighty.
In this life struggle, here I am among you fully cognizant that a true believer has no fear of what God has ordained for him. Those who are visited by fear live only for their present, under the illusion that the world began with them and will end with their departure. I find it incumbent on me to tell you that I will have to travel, at intervals determined by my physicians and beginning shortly after a month from now, to the center where I was treated. This will be for the purpose of undergoing tests to confirm that I haveGod willingbeen cured. I also feel it necessary for me to address you at this time with my usual frankness and clarity. I wish to say to you that the life of an enlightened people and a vibrant nation cannot be measured by the life of an individual. A successful person is one who manages to lay down a new stone, a brick that would help firm up his nation's existence. I am ever mindful of the legacy of my grandfather, the founder of this Kingdom, who had said to me that he perceived his life as a link in a continuous chain of those who served our nation and that he expected me to be a new and strong link in the same chain. A few days later, he was chosen by the Almighty to reside by His side as a martyr on the soil of immortal Jerusalem, in the precincts of the holy Aqsa. I have recalled this statement over and over again and have remembered its intent more than any other. I have comprehended its import as it was no doubt intended. This is because it summarized the vision of the revered founder with regard to the responsibility of a leader towards his people and towards his nation, for whose freedom and unity he had lived and died. Clasping the soil of Jerusalem with a martyr's embrace, he passed on the flag of Bani Hashem** and Al al-Beit to another Hashemite descendent from Muhammad, God's blessing and salvation be upon him.
I have recalled all this and have absorbed it as I have never done beforeas a manifestation of the weight and integrity of the responsibility in his closing years. He had singled me out for his admonition as a young member of his family and a youth from Amman and Jordan. In passing on his legacy, heGod rest his soulchanged this young man's life. Even now, I recall the moment when I vowed to God and to myself that I would follow in his footsteps and in those of his fathers and grandfathersfor the good of our beloved people and the future of our great nation.
I have since traversed this righteous path in partnership with you all. I have drawn sustenance from my faith in God, from my love for my fellow men, from my pride in belonging to my people and holding them in great respect and from my awareness that we are the heirs of the revolt launched and nurtured by our ancestors. As I look at my people and my larger family today, I am conscious that the Great Arab Revolt, which aimed at liberating the people and their lands and establishing their state, was a rebellion against the powers that sought to efface the identity of the Arab nation whom God had honored through revealing his holy book in their undiluted Arab tongue. I am conscious that those men who advanced with Faisal Ibn Al-Hussein on Damascus, who joined Abdullah Ibn Al-Hussein in battle in the Hijaz in order to liberate Al-Madina Al-Munawwara and rescue the mosque of the Prophet, and who fought with Zeid Ibn Al-Hussein and his companions in the battles of Ma'an and Tafila, were in fact launching an all embracing battle in the name of the nationas a prelude to establishing this national entity and protecting its soil from any threat to its freedom, its people or its Islamic and Arabic character. This Jordanian entity thus became the standard-bearer of the revolt after the allies placed their interests above their promises and in the wake of regional regression which plagued certain parts of the Arab nation.
We continue until this moment to face this regression with a stubborn determination to preserve the glorious aspects of our Arab nation, which was once unified and which, with God's grace, will unite again despite all attempts to deny its past and present history. The Hashemite tribe shall as always remain the huband apexof the Arab nation's battles in the context of history as well as in the present and the future. The Hashemite state shall continue to embody the Islamic-Arab message which emanated from Mecca, from the peoples of Bani Hashem, from Mu'tah and Karbala. The Hashemite's blood is inextricably mingled with the blood of the free men and the poorin defense of the nation's freedom, of justice and of the people's right to sustenance, security, faith and free speech.
The people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan realize that their state is not one tied to an individual, a party, a faction or a class. To them, it is a state with a message. They recognize that the honor of belonging to this state has imposed on them certain responsibilities towards the whole nation. They know that they should live up to their responsibilities in word and deed, in their war of life, and through their struggle preserve the trust that they enjoy and respect the honorable descent of which they are part. They are aware that they enjoy a status with which God has ennobled those who recognize its meaning and seek to rise to its level. They also know that the masters and the Sharifs among them are those who have in their lives endowed their titles with meaning and true significance, through relying on piety, character, compassion, generosity, humility and sacrifice in order to attain God's favor, their own peace of mind and a just verdict by history and future generations.
These were the visions that engulfed me as I met with you on my return, as indeed they had prevailed in our other great assemblies. In all of this, I have reached two conclusions: The first related to the descendants from the Al al-Beit, of Muhammad, God's blessing and salvation be upon him; and the second relating to Bani Hashem of Al al-Beit, as well as to Jordan and the Arab homelandnow and in the future.
As for Al al-Beit, God has honored them with their lineage to the exclusion of all others. I deem it my duty to urge them, wherever they are, to forge closer links among themselves and to live up to the status which their lineage dictatesboth as individuals and as groups. I ask them to be the most humble of people, the most righteous and the most true in fearing the Almighty. I ask them to abide by God's will and injunction. This family has co-existed with the history of the entire nation and has spread its wings not only in the Arab world and the Muslim world but also around the globe. It has made great contributions but has also been a target of injury, envy and oppression. Duty requires us all to seek to bring it back together and strengthen ties among its members, with no consideration in mind except those of respect and love, which ought to govern these relations regardless of temporal status.
As for the second aspect, it resides in the fact that our Hashemite family has met with both animosity and success. It has been fought and resisted because throughout its existence it has been part and parcel of our nation. Its success springs from the fact that through its noble descent, its hard work and its position, it has remained above temporal ambitions and differences. This is so because it represents the message and stands for legitimacy and continuity. It is not strange, therefore, that Faisal I fought in the Hijaz and in Syria, then settled in Iraq; or that Zeid fought in the Hijaz as well as in Jordan. It is not strange either that Abdullah fought as the commander of the eastern army in the Hijaz, liberated Al-Madina Al-Munawwara and had the honor of rescuing Al-Rawda Al-Musharrafa, the Medina mosque and the hallowed grounds that embraced the denizens of Al-Baqi', martyrs of Al al-Beit. He then moved to Jordan, rescued the land and built, along with its people, this great citadelobstinate against the nation's enemies, steadfast in the face of challenges, true to righteousness and to the message, not willing to bargain over the nation's interests and refusing to break its historic pledge to defend the nation's freedom and protect its future generations.
This is a united Hashemite family, which has fought alongside the brave and the free to liberate this glorious nationin response to the call of duty and in line with the people's natural bent for freedom, independence and unity in the wake of severe oppression, which had almost led to the loss of their language and civilization and which saw their notables hanging from the gallows.
The family was thus one with the nation across its entire history. And the great Arab Revolt was one of the most glorious manifestations of this unity. The grandsons of the revered leader of the revoltand their children and grandchildrenshall continue to bear the nation's standard, generation after generation, true to the honor and spirit of their descent from the Prophet, God's blessing and salvation be upon him, and to their allegiance to the struggle of his noble clan. In saying this about my family and kinAl al-Beit and Bani Hashemand as God is my witness, I here confirm that we have no other purpose than to serve the nation. To the small-minded, it may appear that Hussein harbors ambition or greed, for many are those who measure things and people through their own view of things or of themselves. May God forgive them, for the fact is that I have no ambition but to seek God's approval and to fulfill the trust lodged in me. My dearest wish is for the verdict of future generations to be for me and not against me, since I realize that shouldering responsibility at this point in time entails an acceptance of life's voyage under the most difficult circumstances, which are viciously inimical to those with a great heart and living conscience.
We can rightfully ask ourselves about the measure of our achievements in the face of the national setbacks and upheavals which have beset our nation and world in these turbulent times. We thank God that we have achieved a great deal. We have established in this land the foundations of a modern democratic state. This was due to God's bounty in the first place, and also to the positive response of this noble people, who, regardless of their origins and habitats, have been aware of the message, cognizant of their role, and conscious of the challenges they have had to meet. It has likewise been due to a unified vision shared by the leadership and the people over a whole century. We should strive for a further strengthening of these foundations and for a further release of energy. We should build up a new life in this democratic climate, so that Jordan could remain a land of the free and the proud who bow their heads only to God; a land of responsibility whose people recognize balance in all things, especially between rights and obligations; a land of celebrity which is capable of forging ahead in times of deepest darkness and profoundest challenges; a land of integrity enjoyed by every one of its own citizens, as well as by the free who seek its protection, and by the true who seek to join their people's quest to preserve the nation's right to life and to lead it out of its disarray, weakness, despair and loss, to forge a unified, free, dignified and immortal nation.
We have passed through a difficult time, but you have been capable of rising to the level of your responsibilities. I have been with you as you strove to prevent the collapse of the national edifice. I have been with you and among you, and with your blood you drove away the darkness of the night. Because of your courage, I consider myself all the more proud, all the more strong and all the more capable of providing support. I have known you to be the bravest of people in the defense of right and freedom. I have lived among you as you clasped to your hearts brethren of yours when they were rocked by tragedy or shaken by misfortune. I shouldered your cares in my youth and early manhood. And here I am now observing the generations which are moving to build a democratic Jordan, a Jordan true to its nation's ideals. I have observed how they derived their vision and mode of action from the message of the revolt, from the constitution and the charterwithout any recklessness, fanaticism, upheaval, or overbearing behavior. And we recall a time when we were waging our battles aloneweaving the flag of a union between the two banks, Arabizing the army command, establishing universities and houses of learning, setting up national institutions of which we are truly proud, and rallying "la creme de la creme" among our religious and legal minds to establish our pioneering civil law based on the Islamic Shari'a. We also recall a time when we held fast against intellectual disarray, conspiracy and lack of responsibility when we stood up to those who infringed upon the rights of the Arab citizen, denigrated the reverence of the great message, played fast and loose, aborted opportunities for freedom and growth, and willfully tampered with a nation's unity. We remember how we fought the nation's wars even when we had been kept in the dark about the date of battle, how we shed our blood on the plains of Karama, how we told the nation on that rosy morning that we had the upper hand, that the road to Jerusalem lay in our sacrifice, our river, our unity and our determined steadfastness, and that we would never surrender one iota of our nation's rightsfrom the Arab Sea to the last outpost in the distant sea.
These, then, are the traits of our common journey of Jordan's immortal march, rooted in the nation's spirit, its martyrs and its all-engulfing challenges. I am proud that throughout my entire life it has also been my own journey. Let us together launch an appeal to our beloved nationone that would renew itself across distance, direction and timeto stand up to the ambitious and to the renegades; to protect its capitals from those who would advocate tyranny or who would tie the destiny of nations to individuals; and to open wide the gates of freedom, democracy, pluralism and respect for human rights. Our own model is open to the whole nation. Let them come to our universities, our institutions, our schools and our newspapers. Let them support this proud national voice, for the sake of the entire nation, and not for our sake. Let there be established in Amman a center for the study of freedom, democracy and human rights in the Arab world. For the light of righteousness must wipe out the dark of wrongfulness. And Bani Hashem must be the vanguard, for their grandfather Hashem was the first to forge a pact among them and protect the caravans of Quraysh. And their grandfather Abdul-Muttaleb was the first to provide Mecca with fresh water and to paint Al-Ka'ba in Gold. Their history is a record of sacrifice for their nation. Never did they seek personal gain or the glory of palaces. Wherever they set out, it was to support their divine faithtrue to their pious spirit and heedful of the honor bestowed upon them by God's holy book:
"And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the family, to make you pure and spotless."
I say this because some are prone to forgetfulness. The blood of our martyrs is sacred. Our ancestors' vision is constantly before us, and our struggle is permanently engraved on the strong arms of our people. Along with our nation, we have remonstrated against those who have done wrong, have guided those who have erred back to the fold, and have helped those in need. We have refused to support wrongful occupation or liberation that infringes upon sovereignty. We have warned against the designs and conspiracies of the foreigners, and have always sought God's favor. My conscience has been truly vindicated in that I have held fast to the pledge I made to you forty years ago when I said: "I have pledged to shun all repose in working for your prosperity and building our dear homeland, in which we live and in which we shall die." From that moment, I have consecrated myself to the people of this blessed land, to the concept that the Hashemite Jordanian state is the vanguard of a new Arab era imbued with the scent of freedom, justice and democracy; and to the view that the Jordanian people perceive the dream to be at hand while others see it a distant prospect. I have fully believed that the Jordanians represented the legitimacy of the Great Revolt through the blood of their martyrs shed over an area from Bab Al-Wad to Karama, from the Yarmouk to Tafila, and through their concern for the poor, for orphans and for prisoners of war. I am certain that they will be amply rewarded for their noble endeavors.
No sooner had one journey ended than another began. The history of this land has been one of tireless activity, since the time the martyr King Sharif Abdullah Ibn Al-Hussein laid down the cornerstone of the illustrious Salt school, presented the flag to the first battalion of our Arab legion and recited the Fatiha*** in honor of the first martyr. Of the army the martyr King had said: "This is an army which does not shame its commanders, does not disappoint its generals, does not let down its people, does not hold back, does not shirk the task of protecting its rights and those of its country. The army is not only an army. It is the country's sword, its shield, its pride, its voice, its whip, the bane of its enemies and the apple of the King's eye." It has been so since the time the KingGod rest his souldeclared the enlightened message of Jordan, where no one is stronger than the oppressed until their rights are restored or weaker than the oppressors until their rights are taken away from them; where its people stand united while others are plagued by disarray; where they advance while others hold back; where they keep up the struggle to ensure that none in the land remain poor, afraid or downtrodden.
The state of affairs is not too much to expect of Jordan or Jordanians. For God has blessed this land in His holy book and has honored it with the blood of the first martyrs of the Islamic conquestsat Afra, Mu'ta and the Yarmouk. He has chosen it as a springboard for the call of the Al al-Beit, where Al-Humaima embrace the nascent drive through which Bani Hashem regained their God-given honor of leading the nation. For God had willed it to be a spacious stamping ground for their horses as they rushed at the turn of the century to restore the nation's freedom, its glory and its pride.
We meet again in Amman, my heart having yearned for youtempered with patience and elated to see you advance from every corner of this land, east and west of the River, to surround me with your noble and sincere feelings and deck the country with your proud national sentiment, your generosity and your great chivalry.
And here we are now at the threshold of renewed promise. For this is an era where right is loudly heralded; an era enabling us to break out of the cycle of pain and join the promising warmth of the new times; an era when we can hoist the mantle of pride and realize the great dream embodying the noble message. We shall not sacrifice one grain of our homelands soil or of our nation's rights. We have made a pact with union, in tribute to the revered leader of the Great Arab Revolt. We shall advance into a world of justice and freedom, not one of oppression; into a spirit of consultation and shura, not one of tyranny. It is right and just that we should repeat our timely callloudly and strongly across the Arab landsand triumph over silence with the glow of our positions so that our call may respond in the name of the nation and the message, and in the name of Bani Hashem, for a free Jordanian populace and for the noble among the Arab nation.
This has been my message to you as I persevere with you along our blessed march. Let the vision be clear, the will honest, the methodology rational, the aspiration human. Be as I have always known you to betrue nationalistic, compassionate believers and hardy fighters. Strengthen your ranks as you present your message to your nation. Cast out the selfish, the defeatists, the spiteful, the ungrateful and the oppressors. In the name of your nation and its message launch a new and comprehensive Arab movement in education and culture, in politics, agriculture and industry, in the protection of right, and in the drive to liberate ourselves from dictatorships, from totalitarian regimes and from rule by a single faction. Herald freedom to all Arabs and march on with God's blessing. Above all, read the words of the Holy Book:
"And do thou be patient, for thy patience is from Allah; nor grieve over them: and stress not thy self because of their plot. For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and who do good."
May the Almighty keep you in His care and grant you success.
May God's peace and blessings be with you.
Address to the Nation
November 5, 1992
* Al al-Beit (literally People of the House) refers to the descendants of the Prophet through his daughter Fatima and his cousin and son-in-law, Ali. They had three sons, Hasan, Hussein and Muhsin (who died in infancy). From Hasan and Hussein descend the sharifs, who hold an honored position in Muslim society.
** The Bani Hashem are the Meccan clan to which the Prophet Muhammad and Ali belonged. The Hashemite family are descendants of the Bani Hashem.
*** The Fatiha is the opening chapter, or Sura, of the Quran. Its recital is mandatory during the ritual prayer. The Fatiha is the essence of the Quran and sums up mans relation to God.