Ramadan comes to a close

The month of Ramadan, and its month of fasting, are officially over. It is now the month of Shawwal in the Islamic lunar calendar and yesterday (Saturday 18 July) was Eid l Sgir, the holiday that marks the beginning of the month – and the end of Ramadan. Moroccan society will now transition back to normal wake/sleep schedules and eating during the day. Yes, it feels weird to eat and drink with Moroccans in public spaces, once again. It’s strange to see cafes that are full of men, instead of vacant and closed all day as they have been for the past month.

Ramadan felt like a long month to me; I can not imagine spending the month fasting as a devout Muslim would. After Michelle and I had been fasting for a few weeks, my patience seemed to be wearing a little thin. But around town, in the community, we didn’t notice this until the last few days of the month.

A friend and I were walking down the street one afternoon when we heard yelling from the gas station (a Shell station. Yes, those exist here.) We looked over to see the gas station attendant and his manager screaming at each other. The manager got closer and closer to the attendant’s face until the attendant pushed him away, starting a minor shoving match. We walked on, not needing to witness anymore. The impatient-nearness-to-the-edge that I had felt weeks earlier was becoming apparent around town. There was also a yelling match between two men in line in a store later, on the same walk. On a different day, Michelle and I were inching our way down a street close to our home; a street that is regularly lined with fruit carts and packed with people. Wedged into the middle of it on this day was a van, making very little progress through the crowd. The driver was leaning out the window waving an 8″ knife (and I think he was smiling at the same time).

Squabbles, quarrels, and strange men waving knives: they all happen, but they’re completely drowned out by the vast majority of Moroccans that fast and read the Quran and are lovely, helpful, and kind. These are the people that amaze me. When patience is wearing thin, these folks are pushing themselves to be better, in the eyes of Islam, instead of yelling and fighting.

Ramadan is over. I feel like I learned a lot from it, the least of which is that I can go from 3:15 am until 7:45 pm without eating or drinking. Now the town has a little more relaxed feel to it and the schedule is returning to “normal”.

Now there are kids outside playing at 7:37 pm, instead of waiting at the table to eat l’ftur, with the fasting adults.

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