How Does the Ramadan Fast Affect Tourists in Morocco? Your Morocco Travel Guide

Men At Prayer During Ramadan

How does the Ramadan affect travelers visiting the Imperial Cities, the Sahara Desert and other regions of Morocco during this high holy holiday? As a traveler, you may be wondering if you can eat or drink in public during Ramadan?  Travelers can visit Morocco during Ramadan with ease. The Islamic calendar is based upon the lunar calendar and holidays such as Ramadan advance by approximately ten days with each subsequent year.  This means that Ramadan makes a cycle through the entire calendar of twelve months each twenty-some years.

Islamic Lunar Calendar

Travelers visiting Morocco during Ramadan often hear that people are not required to fast because of sickness, or health conditions such as diabetes, as well as women having their menstruation. Non-Muslim travelers are often confused about the polite way to behave with Muslims during Ramadan; what they are permitted to do, or not do; and wonder which stories they hear are true, or not true.

Morocco’s Ramadan Law.

Morocco’s laws prohibit “a person commonly known to be Muslim” from “violating the fast in a public place during Ramadan. This law is called the Ramadan Law and is under Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code. This law also applies to Muslim travelers coming visiting from other Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Dubai. If Muslims visiting were to flaunt the fast in public, penalties would apply to them.  The penalties are from one to six months in prison and a fine of up to approximately 100 Euros.  The Ramadan Law states that the only Muslims who are exempt from this requirement are children, the elderly, the sick; and pregnant, lactating or menstruating women. Protests frequently take place in Morocco against this law.  While this law is on the books, people are rarely prosecuted.  Usually, if there is a token protest, the police do their best to try to prevent the protesters from arriving at the protest location, instead of arresting them.

It is not forbidden by law  to eat during Ramadan in Morocco.

It is not forbidden by law  to eat during Ramadan in Morocco, even though it is socially unacceptable for Muslims who should be fasting. Muslims who decide not to fast in their own homes will incur no penalties. The Ramadan Law is very specific stating that Muslims “shall not violate the fast in a public place.”  Keeping the fast is difficult and becomes more difficult if people actively break it in front of others who are fasting.  Therefore, the reason for this law is two-fold:  to make it easier for those who are fasting, as well as to both teach the young, and communicate the idea to all Muslims that breaking the fast is most definitely not socially acceptable.  This goes along with several other laws in Morocco which prohibit certain types of behavior in public places by Muslims (discussed below).

Children are not required to fast during Ramadan.

It is not forbidden by law to eat during Ramadan in Morocco, even though it is socially unacceptable for Muslims who should be fasting. Muslims who decide not to fast in their own homes will incur no penalties. The Ramadan Law is very specific stating that Muslims “shall not violate the fast in a public place.”  Keeping the fast is difficult and becomes more difficult if people actively break it in front of others who are fasting.  Therefore, the reason for this law is two-fold:  to make it easier for those who are fasting, as well as to both teach the young, and communicate the idea to all Muslims that breaking the fast is most definitely not socially acceptable.  This goes along with several other laws in Morocco which prohibit certain types of behavior in public places by Muslims (discussed below).

The Elderly & Sick Fasting Dilema During Ramadan.

The elderly fast unless they are in extremely poor health. In many cases, doctors advise them not to fast, however, given the long-standing tradition most do so anyway. Elderly people fast because they feel there is moral value in doing so, and in many cases, it is a case of self-respect. Sick (or injured) people are encouraged not to fast.  The question becomes how sick or injured one must be.  If blood comes out of one’s body, such as if someone cuts themselves in the kitchen with a knife accidentally, that would invalidate their fast for that day.  However, the question is how much.  Suppose a man gets a tiny knick from his razor, is that enough to invalidate the fast?  Supposedly not. Since that becomes questionable depending upon the size of the knick, many Muslim men shave in the evening during Ramadan, just in case. People with serious health conditions such as diabetes can fast and are encouraged to do so if their illness is not severe and they have it properly under control.

Those with more advanced or severe diabetes are often told by doctors that they should not fast, yet some of them do anyway.  It seems to be a question of pride (or even showing off to others that they “can” do it) and maintaining respect both in their own eyes and from others, particularly if they are not old.  Some diabetics insist on fasting and even fall into comas because of it, yet continue to fast anyway.  Most Muslims, if questioned about these people insist that they most definitely should not be fasting. People who have a mild cold, headache, even sore throat, or ear infection are advised to fast. If someone has a fever, they would be excused from fasting. Pregnant women are not required to fast, however many do.

Pregnant women often make up the fasting days later in the year on their own.  The explanation is given by some Moroccan women for fasting while pregnant is that, “I would not be able to make up all those days on my own.”  However, this behavior is most definitely not condoned by Islam. Lactating women are not supposed to fast either and are also required to make up the days on their own. Menstruating women are not required to fast.  Most women find these days a welcome break during the middle of fasting.  However, if they are working in a company with mixed Moroccan and foreign workers, they will not join others in the lunchroom with those who are not fasting. Even if they themselves are eating during those days; instead they wait, and eat at home.  The reason is compelling.  It is said that if a man at their workplace sees women eating, he will know it is their time of the month.  It is said that Moroccan women prefer that their male co-workers knowing this personal information. Therefore, they do not eat at work.  They must also make up those fasting days later in the year.

Ladies in Djemaa El Fna Square, Ramadan

Public Spaces in Morocco During Ramadan. 

The Ramadan Law is not the only law relating to public space in Morocco. A similar law is about alcohol.  In coastal cities such as Agadir and Essaouira for example, beaches nearby or on the boardwalk cannot offer alcohol outside without an approved licensed to do so. Bars sometimes have an outdoor section where clients can sit and order drinks.  In some locations, travelers can order a beer or glass of wine and drink it while seated in the outdoor section.  While Muslims can also order a beer or glass of wine (except during Ramadan or other Muslim holidays when it is strictly prohibited), they must sit inside when consuming alcohol.  Muslims who are sitting outside are permitted to drink coffee, tea or other non-alcoholic drinks. Is this hypocrisy? Many travelers think so. However,  most Moroccans feel the law is valid and should be respected given Morocco is a Muslim country. Many Muslims find it offensive to watch their brethren in the street consuming alcohol than it is for them to see non-Muslims consuming it.  It is similar to the vulgar language being bleeped out on broadcast American TV.  Everyone knows they are using vulgar language, yet Americans do not have to hear the words.  It’s a similar situation in Morocco. Muslims in the street understand that others are inside consuming alcohol, however, they do not have to watch others participating.  The Ramadan Law has a similar reasoning.  People can eat if they want to, however, if you’re Muslim, you are just forbidden from doing so in public.

Chebekia Moroccan Pastry Eaten At Ramadan

A Recommended Guide for Traveler Behavior During Ramadan.

Travelers visiting Morocco during Ramadan are recommended to follow similar behavoior as Muslims who would be diabetic, or ill, or pregnant. These Muslims would eat at home. If they were sick while out somewhere, yet needed to eat or drink, they would go in a private place where no one would see them. Ideally what is recommended to eat in restaurants and hotels and not on the street during fasting hours.

Many, not all restaurants are closed during Ramadan for lunch. Some open for dinner only. Both Muslims and travelers can purchase water and other food goods yet we recommend that travelers not open water for example, and drink it in front of others who are fasting.  Instead, they should find a place to drink privately, not in public.

Harira & Dates, Breafkast (L’Ftour) Ramadan

Ramadan can be a very interesting time to visit a Morocco or other Muslim countries. After the Ramadan ftour breakfast, families tend to go out late, and there are plenty of interesting things to do well into the night. The Ramadan Law is there to request and ensure that Muslims also continue to treat each other respectfully and abide by their duties if they are followers of the holy Quran.

For more information about traveling to Morocco’s Imperial Cities or Sahara Desert During Ramadan

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed