This speech to the Jordanian people was delivered almost three weeks after the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty was signed. In the address, His Majesty the King recalls the history of sacrifice and struggle from Hashemite Jordan in defense of Palestine and the Holy City of Jerusalem. He defends Jordans choice to make peace after others have already made their decision to do so, and points to the hypocrisy of the ungrateful, who criticize Jordans peace with Israel after having rejected Jordans attempts to safeguard Palestine in the past. King Hussein also denounces those who use religion to attack peace: Islam cannot be against peace; it cannot side with darkness against light, or with death against life.
In reference to Jordans custodianship of the Muslim Holy Sites in Jerusalem, His Majesty explained that this is in order to protect them until a final and comprehensive peace is achieved--a peace that would restore the rights to their owners in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy.
Finally, King Hussein introduced an element of democracy into the process of designating a successor after himself and Crown Prince El Hassan, saying: After us, the grandchildren of al-Hussein bin Ali shall select from among them and express fealty to whomever they deem most fit to carry the torch and fulfill the message in future generations.
Address to the Nation
November 15, 1994
(Translated from the original Arabic)
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
Prayers and peace on the Hashemite Arab Prophet, his house and his companions.
Praise be to Almighty God for his succor and guidance, and thanks be to Him for his countless blessings. He has guided us on the path to making peace, enabling us to attain it. The Almighty has answered our constant prayers that he help us keep our heads high, not to bow save to Him, who would make us the builders and makers of peace that future generations will enjoya just, comprehensive and total peace between God's faithful creatures, sons of Abraham (on whom be peace) so that they may glorify and worship Him for bestowing the gift of peace on them in the land of the Prophet and divine messagesa peace they will protect and through which they will enjoy, together with all of humanity, the fruits of calm and security.
We had long prayed to Almighty God to show us the righteous path, seeking inspiration in his words: Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not one another in sin and rancor. (al-Ma'idah 2)
And in his words: Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! (Fussilat 34)
Now that we have, with God's help, reached our noble objectives, we ask the Almighty to make heaven our abode with pious, faithful and good Muslims, who "no frivolity will they hear therein, nor any taint of illonly the saying, "Peace! Peace!" (al-Waqi'ah 25).
May the Almighty count us among those who always defend what is rightnot merely their own, but the right of all people to live in security and stability, which provide them with opportunities to work and build together all that may bring them success and ample reward. I ask Almighty God that he make me worthy of the love and confidence of all my people and to enable me to fulfill the trust which I have defrayed with honor and manhood. My supplication to the almighty is: As I fear no one in this world but you, and seek only to attain your favor, so guide me along the path of righteousness, the best to protect and the best to help.
Your Jordanian Arab homeland has achieved, with God's help, a long-sought and cherished goal along the path of a full and comprehensive peaceattained through a clarity of vision bestowed upon us by virtue of our long experience during the span of our life. We have given many martyrs, who have fallen in the cause of defending our nation's rights. Our country has, throughout this century, woven the fabric of an immortal message of patience and pride. Its people have learned from the father of the Great Arab Revolt, al-Hussein bin Ali, who resides at al-Aqsa, great lessons in sacrifice, starting with his departure, together with his Hashemite family, from the land of his ancestors after more than eight hundred years of sacrifice for what is right, as well as for the dignity of our nation. His struggle continued until he was laid to rest next to al-Aqsa mosque, the first Qiblah and the third Holy Place, having given all to the defense of Palestine and the right of its people, though his intent was not to favor al-Aqsaon whose holy grounds the blood of his son King Abdullah bin al-Hussein, may God rest his soul, was spilledover Mecca and Medina. Mecca which he and his family left in refuge for the cause of God and our nation, as they recited God's words: "We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens: now shall we turn these to a qiblah that shall please thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the sacred mosque: wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction." (al-Baqarah 144).
Many times have the sons of this Jordanian Arab land stood and fought at the walls of Jerusalem at a time when the Arab nation was unable to extend any but the least consequential assistance. Then came a time when they found themselves once again going through the same experience. They had to be patient and steadfast, to face the challenge alone. It was my lot, as their leader, to defend this land against conspiracy, treachery and weakness. We sought to light up the darkness through the steadfastness of our free and united Jordanian people, seeking succor, after Almighty God, in the spirit of defiance ingrained in the chests of our people. We bit hard against the anguish and anger of our souls as we found ourselves surrounded by manifestations of ingratitude. We tended our wounds in silence. We almost got to the point of calling out to our nation, to which we for so long had preached freedom and unity, to come out and claim their debt, if they had any, or to demonstrate in what way they had given more than we. As God is our witness, we never did anything for the purpose of any gain, nor did we seek recompense, because even as we fended off the hunger threatening our children and bade farewell to our martyrs, we sought nothing but God's favor and the unity of our nation.
We were never touched by fear, nor did we shirk our responsibilities even when confusion reigned over the most knowledgeable among us as to the distinction between oil and blood, between revolution and rebellion, between faith and denial of faith. We persisted in calling for liberty, justice and democracy, and the unity of the nation, in order to help our people come out of their cultural isolation and the state of chaos engulfing both politics and the media, for a world capable of weaving a civilization that would transcend the wounds of the past, understand the present, anticipate the future and enable peoples to participate fully and exercise their free will. We did this with the full knowledge that the world around us has changed and that our nation still had a long way to go in proving the kind of existence it deserves among the nations of the world, be they hungry, oppressed or afraid. It was as if some of the persons holding the reins of power had not read the injunction of the good Caliph Umar to one of his walis:
"God has given us authority over people so that we may alleviate their hunger, provide them with the means of living and forgive their trespasses. Know that God has created hands to work. So if they find nothing useful in obedience, they will more often resort to mutiny."
It well behooves them to understand his saying "Why do you hold people in servitude, when their mothers have born them free?"
You all know that we are entering a new phase in the wake of the peace treaty with Israel. We join this phase with the same sincerity we had brought to delineating the character of the precious phase. We have struggled to keep Jordan a home to those who have sought refuge and to those who have risen to their defense. We have kept Jordan free and unified in spirit and purpose. In all phases of this country's life, we have preferred to place the good of the Arab nation above Jordan's self-interest. We have been at the receiving end of the negative attitudes of others, and of their lack of clarity, their waste of opportunities, their reliance on unbridled emotion, their superficial approach to the future and to our nation's destiny, and the insistence of many to forget that we are the school and proponents of the Great Arab Revolt. We, however, have held fast to our position; we have stuck to the independence of our Jordanian decision; and we continue to defend our rights with manhood and honor. We have fought for the good of our nation, never entering a battle but with the purpose of victory or martyrdom. We are no strangers to the plains and mountains of Palestine, or to the walks of Jerusalem, or to the soil of the Golanfor which we fought under the most difficult of circumstances.
Faced with the changes of the last few years, we came to the decision that we had to wage the battle of a just, comprehensive and permanent peace. We walked the path of peace. In high national spirit marked by sincerity, full awareness and determination, Jordanians joined the negotiations in Madrid and Washington, and in our own region, until we arrived at the peace treaty between us and Israel. It is a peace on which the people have spokenthe word of the majority. It is a peace through which Jordan has regained its full sovereignty over its occupied lands and which has restored to Jordan its water rights by one of the parties concerned with the water issue. Jordan hopes, and will strive, in the context of comprehensive peace, to regain its water rights in full.
Much has been said about the peace process and the peace treaty. The people have had their say after a unique constitutional debate. It is imperative here that the minority opposition respect and observe the opinion of the majority, except within what is prescribed by the Constitution, the laws and the Charter in the way of freedom of opinion, up until the conclusion of the treaty. Their freedom will always be respected within these limits. But it is unreasonable and unacceptable to go to exaggerated lengths in the name of freedom of opinion, of exercising intellectual terrorism over the people as a whole and denying the right of the majority to take a decision which, at the end of the day, everybody must respect.
It is worth mentioning here that our thanks go to all who expressed their opinions frankly and clearly, to those who stood with their country and with future generations. This comes at a time when people had gotten used to choosing the shorter and easier path in facing the manifestations and effects of intellectual terrorism, of misrepresenting religion, faith and righteousness, of tending to deny the right of others to life or to pass over their suffering, or not realizing that other nations have their own orphans and widows. We ask Almighty God to help us face all these circumstances in order to arrive at a new and promising dawn. It is high time for us to define our own responsibilities and priorities before we lay upon others the responsibility of all that has befallen our nation. It is time we dealt with life and its challenges with rationality, courage and a sense of responsibility. I wish to affirm here that Islam cannot be against peace; it cannot side with darkness against light, or with death against life. Therefore, the pulpits of God's Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him), may not after today serve as places for irresponsible expression in the name of Islam, which is innocent of all terrorism, oppression and charges of infidelity and belittlement. Islam does not condone the expropriation of the people's right to hear from these pulpits all that is good about their religion and their life here on earth.
In addition to all of this, many of the forms of expression used have reflected a condition that shows us to be uncertain of ourselves, our civilization and the legitimacy we represent. Some have even gone to the extent of depicting peace as a threat to our nation and civilization. How can this be reconciled with the fact that we are a nation forged by the experience of history, a country that has pride in the positions it takes, that stands tall and glorious, that understands the march of history and the depth of our nation's culture and its ability to meet the consequences of peace.
My fellow Jordanians,
We have made our positions clear all through the decades of conflict. During the Rabat Conference of 1974, when the Arab leaders proposed the formula of the sole legitimate representative, despite our recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization since 1964, and my own act of opening the first meeting of the Palestine National Council in Jerusalem in 1965, I said to the leaders:
In spite of this, we continued to bear our responsibilities because of our pan-Arab orientation, thus remaining loyal to a history replete with sacrifice and martyrdom, for the sake of our nation and its prime cause. We have always viewed our position as a commitment to the firm brotherhood and the special and distinctive relationship that exists between the Jordanian and Palestinian people on both sides of the river. We always viewed it as a fulfillment of the trust we bore towards our nation's Holy Places in Jerusalem, where our great grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) found his ascent to heavena role recognized even by those who fought against us, a role of protecting and preserving the Holy Places, but one denied by the ungrateful.
At this juncture, we again stand by the Palestinians in their attempt to achieve their rights on their national soil along the path of peace they have chosen. The West Bank and Jerusalem, which were rescued by the men of the Arab Army under the leadership of Abdullah bin al-Hussein, and whose people chose the union that arose between the two banks of the Jordan River, have been held in trust and defended by us. We strove to rescue them for their own people. We never bargained over one inch of territory or over one iota of the right of its people to their land. All until the Palestinians, aided by all Arabs and by Muslims, chose their own path, starting with the Rabat Summit in 1974 and culminating in the Oslo Agreement with the government of Israel, an agreement that signaled their departure from under the Jordanian umbrella which had taken them to the negotiating table.
In insisting on dealing with the question of the Holy Places at the highest level of responsibility, we are calling and striving for a condition of dialogue among the adherents of the divine faiths, preceded by a dialogue among the Muslim sects, which would unify their positions and lead to brotherly relations among the faithful as decreed by God when He made Jerusalem the object of their reverence. This would be assumed under conditions in which we all respect one another, and which would preserve the rights of all the faithful in all that specifically pertains to them. As for custody over Jerusalem, this can only be the prerogative of Almighty God. Nor is there in any of this any diminution of the rights of the Palestinians to Jerusalem. On the contrary, it will bolster the peace of believers in God and will serve to guarantee a continuation of this peace.
Pursuant to this position, we shall continue to shoulder our responsibilities towards our nation's Holy Places in Jerusalem until a final and comprehensive peace is achieved. A peace that would restore the rights to their owners in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy. What we harbor in our conscience towards the Holy Places in Jerusalem and Hebron is as eternal as the positions taken by al-Hussein bin Ali and is as present as the hallowed blood of Abdullah bin al-Hussein shed at the entrance of al-Aqsa mosque.
Such have been our positions vis-à-vis our nation and Palestine. And we shall continue to advocate our nation's freedom, its decision-making independence, dialogue among its citizens and justice to all its peoples. If our calls are to go unheeded we would at least have fulfilled the trust of disseminating the message. Those who fail to see the light of day until it is too late must bear the responsibility of time wasted for our nation, time that could have been used for spreading awareness, for construction, for liberating our nation from the tyranny of intellectual inaction, from the heavy hand of political feudalism in all its forms, from the weight of ignorance, disease, backwardness, poverty and unemployment. All of this would be a prelude to moving to an overall state of civilized existence, with all its freedoms, institutions, laws, knowledge and modernity.
I speak to you at a time of great historic change both in terms of events and transformational magnitude. If my remarks touch on history, it is because I fear a returndespite the fact that our actions are carried out in the light of day and before the whole worldof previous phases, when contemporary Arab political history was marred by selectivity and distortion of many of our positions and characterized by an interpretation of our decisions out of their proper context. This distortion has blemished some of the purest images of the struggle of the Jordanian and Palestinian peoples, namely the decision to unify the two banks of the Jordan in 1950. Of this decision I had said in front of Arab leaders at the Arab Summit of Algiers in 1988 that it was a victory for the stream of Arab unity at that point in time.
I wondered then about the degree to which the newer generations were familiar with the facts. Of these is the question of how many of them knew that the Jordanian Arab Army had rescued the largest part of what was left of Palestine, including Arab Jerusalem, in the War of 1948, and the question of how many of them realized that the then representatives of the Palestinian people were the ones who initiated the call for union.
We are now entering a new phase in our history, at a time when the world is embarking on painful transformations. We must face the requirements of this new phase with confidence in the ability of all Jordanians to adjust to a reality of which they have so far been deprived, and to interact with distinction, maturity and a sense of responsibility, with new opportunities for work, construction and creativity. We must forge ahead with the process of comprehensive reform down to the minutest detail. We must free ourselves from all forms of hesitation or calls for isolation and prejudice or phenomena leading to a sense of tragedy or pessimism.
The Jordanian people in all their segments are a living people, alert to their circumstances. They are a people which have built on this part of our nation's land a modern state under the harshest of conditions. They have fiercely and obstinately defended themselves and their leadership. They are now entering an era of peace in the same spirit as they had entered a time of war. They will not abandon any right and will not turn their back to any who are oppressed. They will not cease to be giving, and will not relinquish their democratic option or their own distinctive approach to compassion, solidarity and respect for human rights.
I will go even further to say that the coming phase is a most difficult battle in which those who are capable of patience, construction and learning will prove themselves in this world. They will emerge from the tumultuous process of change stronger, more steadfast and more determined. In this way, Jordan will remain as the world has always known itenjoying a position far larger than the space of its beloved territory. Its Arab aspect and its compassionate spirit will remain a shining example to those who can see what is good and benefit from it. For those who would turn their heads away, those who would distort the image, out of ignorance or envy, we can only pray that they be brought to see the light before they turn into fossils of history, whose wheels will forever continue to turn.
We have chosen our path after others have chosen theirs. We have adhered to our Constitution and our Charter. Before us lies a phase during which we shall review our national plans in all fields in order to achieve one object: realizing a Jordanian model of a modern state based on Shura (the Islamic concept of consultation in government). We stand at the threshold of a new century, during which we do not wish to fall outside the pale of history. Nor do we want to be followers of others. We wish to tread a straight path and to make our country the capital of our nation's culture, striving to liberate it from dependence, hesitation or inaction. We continue to adhere to the principle that the unity of our nation's culture with its forward-looking and refined Arab and Islamic roots in terms of creativity, synthesis and approach, is the basis of any comprehensive national renaissance in our present time. It would be a renaissance offering our nation a real opportunity to foster life, freedom, justice and equality, and a strong culture capable of interacting with other cultures from a position of confidence, because it seeks light and freedom even as it seeks to be self-generating and judicious in what it accepts and what it turns away. It also seeks to distinguish between what is arid and what is fertile, and between what is racist and what is human.
My dear Jordanian people,
On this occasion of speaking to you with clarity within the framework of our one Jordanian family, I wish frankly to let you know that I and my dear brother and loyal heir Crown Prince El Hassan are fully agreed on the necessity for quick and well-studied action to give the opportunity to the generations of Hashemites who will succeed us to continue along the path of our fathers and forefathersthe path which I, together with my family, chose when we selected El Hassan to carry the responsibility, which he has with loyalty and distinction, of returning to the Islamic approach of fealty and homage. After us, the grandchildren of al-Hussein bin Ali shall select from among them and express fealty to whomever they deem most fit to carry the torch and fulfill the message in future generations.
Dear brethren, free Jordanians,
You have risen to the aid of your country and nation through your sense of duty and honor. You have struggled in order that Jordan may hold its head high for all time, despite the sick dreams of those who wanted this country to wither or to be in no position to obtain any of its rights in the future. But Jordan, which looms large because of its people and its valiant armed forces, remained steadfast, true to its principles, sacrificing on behalf of our nation, on several occasions beyond the call of duty. It never sought any recompense except the love of its kith and kin. Jordan's team which participated in the strenuous negotiations persisted in defending our country's rights, until, with God's help, we succeeded in restoring them in full, be they territory, water or borders. I wish to affirm here that the entire borders of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are defended by the men of the Arab Army, public security and other related bodies. When the barbed wire and minefields are removed, marking the complete restoration of Jordan's rights and exercise of its sovereignty without any constraint, this would place on them all, and on the people of Jordan, the responsibility of keeping the peace and rising up to its requirements in letter and in spirit, not permitting our lands to be in any way a springboard or an arena of action for any party opposed to peace.
I wish to thank you warmly for your noble sentiments on the occasion of my birthday. As your king, brother and son, I take pride in belonging to you, and I depend, in times of hardship, next to God, on your patience and strength. Together with you, I strive for our country's good and glory. I also wish to thank you for your expressed support and blessing of our efforts in the cause of your country and higher interests and its independent decision as it embarks on the battle for peace and emerges from it with honor. My thanks and greetings go to all those who bore the responsibility of the strenuous negotiations and defendedwith reason, logic, sound argument and appropriate documentationtheir country's rights. My thanks also go to all our constitutional institutions, as well as to the government, for the efforts they expended, and for their contributions in thought and action to the peace process. I also wish to thank the members of our armed forces and all our security agencies, which hold high the banners of our country and in which we have the greatest pride. They are the guardians of our kingdom and they ensure that no forces of evil can get close to us. Through their great steadfastness, they have taught our nation and the world that an army dedicated to dignity and right cannot be defeated.
As we proceed along the path of peace, I wish to affirm my determination to do all in my power to guarantee the good of my people now and in the future. I would thus have fulfilled my obligation to my people, which I shall continue to do as long as I live, together contributing to a delineation of the road ahead for Jordan and all its people. Together, we shall continue to strive for our nation's renewed renaissance on the road to liberty, Shura, democracy and justice. We shall work towards complementarity and solidarity of our people within the framework of human dignity, and the right of all to freedom, pluralism, security and peace.
We ask Almighty God to give us the means of doing what pleases him, to guide us along the path of all that is good, to guard our country and to bring our nation together in amity.
Peace be upon you and God's mercy and His blessings.
Address to the Nation
November 15, 1994