Ramadan in Morocco has been a very fascinating experience up till now. Suddenly the country comes more to life and becomes much busier. Walking home to the Medina everyday from class, I see men praying in Mohammed V street in front of the mosque because it does not fit enough people, and I am amazed by their dedication to God and to their religion that they pray on the streets. After Iftar, people begin to visit each other and families eat more often with each other in Ramadan than any other time of the year. Ramadan truly brings together the Moroccan people.
One interesting thing I witnessed during my time during Ramadan in Morocco is that when two people fight in the streets, others get involved to separate the fight and to calm both parties down. I learned from other Moroccans that fighting increases in the street during Ramadan. That is a downside because Ramadan is a holy month were people should be at their best behavior. Because people abstain from eating, drinking and smoking, it becomes much more easy for them to become frustrated and angry. I have witnessed many streets fights while walking in the Medina everyday. However, most often other Moroccan people would interfere to calm them down and stop them from fighting. This is the good thing about Moroccan people that is often not present in Westerners. When they see something wrong, they interfere to offer their help. I imagine that if a fight breaks out in a street in America, many would claim that it is none of their business and would go on their way and ignore what is going on. This is the beauty of Moroccan community; Moroccans feel like they are obliged to help one another and to lend you a hand.
Many Moroccans try to be at their best in Morocco. As a result, charity increases and more Moroccans give to those in need. More Moroccans donate to the poor and to mosques and many other organizations. The reason is that during Ramadan the reward from God is even higher and so many more people are willing to do good. Some Moroccans spend their time volunteering for other organizations. When we visited Marrakech, we learned that several organizations that rely only on volunteers feed hundreds of Moroccans for Iftar.
My host sister and I were talking about the fact that many Moroccans try to be at their best during Ramadan. However, one thing she criticized about Moroccans to me is that as soon as Ramadan ends they all go back to their bad habits. Some people do not understand the true spirit of Ramadan. In fact, many wait only for after Iftar to continue their bad habits. A common phenomenon she told me about is sexual harassment, for example. During the day when fasting occurs, Moroccan men often lower their gaze and refrain from commenting or harassing women. However, as soon as Iftar ends men become much more aggressive and revert to their old habits of harassing women on the streets. But she told me that these people are only a minority, most Moroccans appreciate the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan in Morocco has been a great experience so far and I am glad to have experienced it in Morocco. Honestly, I feel it enriched my time in Morocco. It was fantastic to be submerged so deeply into another country’s traditions. We learned a ton about the Moroccan people, and how Ramadan affects their day-to-day lives by talking to the people we stayed with and met on the streets. Often, the days can be challenging, but once we break our fast at night, Morocco comes alive and carries on like normal.