Today welcomes the start of Ramadan in Morocco - Islam’s holiest month. Islam is the main religion in Morocco and each year Muslims all over the country take part in fasting from dawn until dusk. Everyone looks forward to this time of year, with family & community gatherings, evening feasts and communal prayers - but with this years celebration falling during the Covid19 crisis and lockdown, this years holy month will feel very different.
Muslims fast in Ramadan to feel closer to God, whilst acknowledging the suffering of those less fortunate than themselves. Throughout the month, followers of Islam fast during the hours of daylight, focusing more on prayer and spirituality. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside prayer, charitable giving, testimony of faith and making pilgrimage to Mecca.
When the sun sets during Ramadan in Morocco, the call to prayer from the mosque fills the air and marks the beginning of evening prayer and 'Ftour' - the time to break the day of fasting.
Much like other Muslim communities, in Morocco the sunset feast is much anticipated throughout the day. While this feast is known as Iftar in other communities, in Morocco it’s more commonly known as Ftour. Starting with dates, milk and sweet juices, Ftour is a feast often comprising of warm soup, fried fish, eggs, pastries, flatbreads and sweets, with lots of other yummy treats too.
At the end of the month of Ramadan, there is a huge celebration: Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fast and much like Christmas, people exchange gifts and enjoy huge feasts with loved ones. Muslims will also give to charity during Eid al-Fitr.
A time of stillness & reflection
As a non-Muslim, but still a spiritual person, I love this time of year. There is a wonderful feeling of peace and reflection, as well as a beautiful atmosphere within the community during this special time. where people come together to share and help others.
People practicing Ramadan tend to stay at home during the day if they're not at work - preparing foods for the evening meal, listening to/reading The Quran and taking some much needed rest.
Later in the early evening before the sun sets, you'll see lots of locals walking on the beach, kids splashing in the ocean and most of the local guys playing a quick game of football before their evening breakfast.
Keeping Faith & supporting the community
It will be a very different experience for most people this year, with many traditions not possible with lockdown and social distancing - no family gatherings, no eating Ftour together, no gathering to pray as a community in the Mosque.
A large number of people struggle during this time of year, and now with many not receiving an income due to the global crisis, it will be even more challenging to afford basic needs.
From taking part in Ramadan myself the last 6 years, I've come to learn that its a time to think about others who are less fortunate. The thought of a delicious meal waiting for us at sunset makes the hunger & thirst bearable, but we're reminded that many people feel this hunger everyday, without the promise of food and water.
Some of our local charities who do amazing work all year round are working extra hard to find support during this challenging and uncertain time.
Support-Flow to Morocco are busy collecting clothing donations in Switzerland to send to poor families in Morocco, plus they've also taken the amazing initiative to set up an online campaign to receive donations that will provide food support for local Moroccan families in need during Ramadan. If you'd like to make a much needed donation, you can donate here.
On top of their regular work at their animal shelter that cares for over 100 animals, Morocco Animal Aid are also providing food for stray animals during lockdown, as well as supporting families with animals at home that no longer have the means to afford food for their pets. If you're able and would like to support them, you can donate direct to their Paypal link Paypal.me/moroccoanimalaid
Wishing all our Muslim friends & family a peaceful and healthy Ramadan!
Stay tuned for some delicious home-made Ramadan recipes coming to the blog very soon!