The Western Asian country of Jordan is located on the Jordan River’s eastern bank. The country occupies an area of 89,342 square km and hosts a population of 10,171,480 individuals. As per the CIA World Factbook, ethnic Jordanians comprise 69.3% of the country’s population. Islam is the official and largest religion in the Middle Eastern country of Jordan.
Religious Composition of Jordan
The vast majority of Jordan’s population, about 97.2%, adhere to Islam. It is the official or state religion of the country. About 20,000 to 32,000 Jordanians identify as Druze and these people reside primarily in the north of the country.
Christianity is the biggest minority religion in Jordan and Christians account for 2.2% of the population. Most of the Christians are Greek Orthodox. Other Christian denominations active in Jordan include Roman Catholicism, Coptic Orthodox, Protestantism, etc. Buddhists and Hindus make up 0.4% and 0.1% of the population of Jordan, respectively. Less than 0.1% of the country’s population practice Judaism and folk religions.
The Official Religion of Jordan
Most of the Muslims in Jordan are Sunnis. Shiite’s comprise only a small percentage of the Muslim population in the country. Prior to the 1980’s, the Islamic population of Jordan was less orthodox in their religious practices. They exhibited less adherence to Islamic teachings and often practiced a syncretic form of religion where they combined their indigenous traditional religious beliefs and practices with those of Islam. Things, however, changed after the 1980’s. There was an Islamic revival in Jordan. The Jordanian society underwent great changes during this time. More women now adhered to the strict Islamic dress code for women. Mosque attendances also rose during this time. There was an overall increase in the number of Jordanians who more strongly adhered to Islamic principles and beliefs.
Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Jordan
Although the state religion of Jordan is Islam, the Constitution of the country provides for freedom of religion to its citizens. One can practice one’s own religion in the country as long as it does not violate morality and public order. Conversions of one’s religion, especially from Islam to some other religion, is highly frowned upon and can lead to immense societal pressure bestowed on the converted person and his or her family. However, conversion to Islam is mostly free of any legal complications and is usually encouraged. Although Muslims and Christians peacefully co-inhabit in Jordan, some of the smallest minorities do complain about discrimination. The government also puts some restrictions on the religious organizations and missionaries active in the country, especially if they are affiliated to non-Islamic faiths. Overall, however, the Jordanian society is generally more tolerant of the religious faiths of others than many other countries in the Arab world.