QUINTESSENTIALLY MOROCCO

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Ramadan in Morocco: The Islamic Holy Month & Traditions

Ramadan

Ramadan, considered as the most important holiday in Islam, happens on the ninth month of the twelve month lunar calendar followed in Islam. These lunar months are twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan occurs earlier in each Gregorian year. During the year of 2008, Ramadan in Morocco, Mauritania and Iran started a day later than in other countries celebrating Ramadan because the crescent of the new moon was not made visible. Muslims are required to wait until they see the moon because the prophet said begin the fast only when you the moon. However, it is usually between the dates of September 1 to September 29 that the ancient rituals of fasting (saum) and praying in accordance with Ramadan  are performed. During Ramadan, a holy holiday, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan, but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. In its observance, Ramadan parallels the traditional Christian Lent. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden to even drink water. No matter what part of the world you are from, all Muslims follow the same rules and traditions with regards to Ramadan. During the times when you are allowed to eat, it is important to only eat healthy and nutritious things good for your body. The point of Ramadan is to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.  There are a few groups that are exempt from Ramadan, but are expected to make up the days during a later time. These groups include menstruating and postpartum women, pregnant and breast-feeding women, travelers and anyone who feels sick or weak. In addition, children before puberty do not have to fast, although many do so to practice for half the day.

Ramadan in Morocco

Other noticeable changes include class hours getting changed so that they do not interfere with daily prayer. Although praying five times a day is the norm in Islam, prayer times are taken more seriously during Ramadan and many Muslims may go to mosque up to several times a day. Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, tourists are not recommended to travel to Morocco during this holy month. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day. Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) marks the end of the thirty day fasting period and is a great celebration throughout the Muslim world. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three day period of special prayers, feasts and sweets .

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Alecia Cohen

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