The shift towards being more religious, why?


I don’t know how strong is the relationship between the numbers of veiled women and the indication of a shift in society towards being more religious. Looking at pictures of Jordanian women in the 60’s and 70’s of last century one would certainly acknowledge the shift in dressing towards more conservatism. Our mothers used to go to Jordan universities wearing mini skirts without any fear of sexual harassments that today even some veiled women fear in our streets.
So what triggered such change? It is not specific to Jordan but also one can see it in the whole area of Arabian countries in the middle east. Egypt can be a better example of the dramatic change that took place. It is very clear and reflected in their film industry.

I have been hearing two explanation so far:

1. Some people claim that the othmanians left us in complete ignorance especially in matters related to religion and that people didn’t really know Islam. Now we are better educated about our religion and thus know better how to follow its rules.

How true is this? Were Jordanians less religious in the 70s because they knew less about their religion? or were they no less religious than today but with a less cultural focus on women and what they dress?

2. Other people claim that due to the cold war and the competition between capitalism and communism, the USA lead a policy of supporting religion in the region so that to guarantee that ME countries won’t turn into the communist atheist party. They clearly supported Islamists in different Arab and Islamic countries. They put a lot of their weight and power in supporting the mijaheddeen (fighters) in Afghanistan against the USSR. In jordan, the government even put our school curriculum in the hands of the Islamic party.

There is a third reasoning that I heard in Egypt where people rationalize the shift towards being more religious to the amount of Egyptians going to Saudi Arabia for work and coming back to their country with the wahhabi mentality. Some also claim that Saudi Arabia Wahhabi’s, being very rich, are using their money to preach their own way of thinking. This is also clear in Jordan, I am not sure whether it is wahhabi’s or not, but religious in-house classes have been popluar for some years now. I have seen some young men taking the leap of faith and turning into more strict reglious people in little time.

I am not a religious person myself, and while there are aspects that came with the current religious wave that scare me, I can say nothing about people’s choice of faith. It is just sad when you realize that such major trend that affected an entire nation has been built by foreign hands for their own interest in the region! Real education may be our way out, not out of being religious, but out of following up blindly what others preach as being a true religion. There must be a way to guarantee our individual freedoms with the blessing of our belief system. Islam has been so progressive when it came to us, it can do it again.

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