Home Institution

Loyola University Chicago

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Jordan: Modernization and Social Change


Upon noticing a trend of religious symbolism within Jordan, I began wondering as to why it was so common. Knowing that the majority of Jordan adhered to Sunni Islam, I was surprised that many Jordanians felt that it was necessary to indicate their religion through objects that identify to which religion an individual adhered.

I developed the hypothesis that the uses of religious symbolism within the country are due not to inherently religious reasons, but that they do serve individuals in other ways. The aim of my research was to discover what the reasons for this use of religious symbolism were. Also based on my preliminary observations, I hypothesized that the use of religious symbolism did not correspond to a higher degree of piety or religious sentiment among the individuals using the symbols.

I interviewed individuals who had background in religious studies and people who I would consider to be quite religious in their personal lives. By interviewing these kinds of people, I was able to gain an informed perspective on the religious basis for religious symbolism, as well as personal opinions and practices with such symbolism.

The conclusion of my research was a certain realization that I had overestimated the significance of religious symbolism within Jordan. I found that its use did not reflect on an individual’s piety and it did not frequently function as a source of unity for Jordanians. Finally, I found that religious symbolism was frequently based on explicitly religious reasons and not, as I had expected, on ulterior motives of the people using religious symbolism.

I hope that the results of my study will result in more people within and outside of Jordan becoming more aware of the reasons and presence of religious symbolism in the country- something which might be frequently overlooked because of its overwhelming prevalence.


Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion