Do you pray?
Have you read the Quran?
These are regular questions I hear as I walk around town. These are a part of our lives here in Morocco. Lately, however, there’s been an addition:
Will you fast?
Ramadan is almost here.
In Morocco there are two calendars. For civil purposes the Gregorian calendar is used and for religious there is the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is lunar based, made up of 12 months, and gains 10-11 days a year on the Gregorian calendar. The ninth month is Ramadan.
Muslims believe that a man named Muhammad (from the Arabian city of Mecca, thought to live 570-632 AD) received revelations from God, or Allah, via the angel Gabriel. These revelations were collected into a book, the Quran, and are believed to be the direct word of Allah. Ramadan is recognized and celebrated as the month during which Muhammad received the initial revelations.
“The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.”
Likely the most important feature of Ramadan, or at least the most familiar, is fasting. This is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are five acts considered mandatory by Muslims. Fasting means abstaining from food, drink (including water), and immoral behavior (smoking, cursing, etc) amongst other things. This fast starts from the morning adhan (the sunrise call to prayer) and lasts until adhan lmġrib (sunset prayer).
We will be attempting to fast.
We are not doing this because we are Muslim or hope to become Muslim. We are doing this to respect our Muslim friends, family, and neighbors. We are doing this to better integrate into our community, to be part of the lives of Moroccans. We are doing this to see a small piece of what this place is, to experience something incredibly special.
I’ll be “reporting back”, so to speak, on how it’s all going and to explain more about Ramadan and how daily life works (and changes) for the month.
Ramadan starts tomorrow (Thursday June 18) so let’s hope we’re ready!