I have been in Amman for almost a month now, and I have been adjusting to my classes as well as living in a new place. I take four Arabic classes: Modern Standard Arabic, Jordanian Arabic, Arabic Writing, and Media Arabic. Taking all classes in Arabic has been challenging as it is difficult at times to express my thoughts in Arabic with a limited vocabulary. However, my professors are great at talking through difficult grammar rules and vocabulary. They are passionate about our language ability and provide great encouragement during times when I am confused.
Ahl al Kahf: The Cave of the Sleepers
Each weekend, I plan to go to at least one new place, thus, last weekend, a friend from my program and I went to Ahl Al Kahf (The Cave of the Sleepers). The story of the cave is mentioned in both biblical and Islamic texts. In the Quran, the story of the cave describes a group of companions who fled their town due to religious persecution. They took refuge in the cave, where they slept for hundreds of years. Upon waking up, one man went to the market, subsequently realizing that his companions have been asleep for more than a night.
The exact location of the cave is unknown, yet the cave located in Amman has many characteristics that match descriptions in Islamic texts. I had the opportunity to enter the cave, and even look through the glass to see the bones of one of the companions. There is also a mosque near the cave that I had the chance to visit after Friday Prayer.
As a child, I learned about the story of the sleepers, thus it was a captivating experience to visit the suspected location. During the tour of the cave, the guide spoke about the significance of the cave in relation to holy texts such as the Quran. Walking around the cave site, the mosque and the nearby areas was a beautiful experience. It was one of the sites I was most looking forward to visiting during my stay in Amman!
Every Tuesday, our class participates in cultural activities organized by our professors. This week, we took a short trip to Iraq al-Amir located to the west of Amman. The area is known for its many hills and the abundance of olive trees. During our trip, we met with women who are apart of an organization that creates ceramics. We had brunch with the women and they informed us about how their organization remains environmentally conscious. Afterward, we spent time making clay and learning more about the women’s organization. We also visited caves that were built during the Greek rule. The weekly cultural activities are a great opportunity to practice Arabic outside of the classroom, as well as learn more about Jordanian sites and cultures.
For the next few weeks, I plan to visit for significant sites such as local mosques, shops, and archeological sites.