Not long ago coffee shops in Jordan were attended only by males, while women spent their leisure time within the confines of the home where they could be protected and supervised by relatives and neighbors. These times are now changing, although many women from religious or rural background do not enjoy the same freedoms as their more liberal, urban counterparts who take pleasure in walking around the many shopping malls in Amman and frequent its numerous coffee shops. Underneath the preoccupations with women’s respectability and morality surfacing in the discourse against female smoking is a desire to suppress the transformation of women’s status in Jordanian society.
Beliefs in magic, the evil eye, jinn and other occult practices are common-place in Jordan and throughout Islamic societies. The complex nature of magic beliefs positions them in the intersection of religion, superstition and the human desire to define and overcome the unknown. In this article Maggie Nazer takes on the challenge to tell a multifaceted story about the intriguing and controversial subject of magic beliefs in the Middle East.