Visiting morocco during RAMADAN is a different experience because moroccans daily routines are different comparing to the rest of the year.
What is RAMADAN ?
For Muslims worldwide, RAMADAN is a Holly month of fasting, prayers, charity and is considered as one of the Five Pillars of Islam ( Shahada ” Profession of Faith “, Salat ” Prayer “, Zakat ” Almsgiving ” , Sawm ” Fasting ” and Hajj ” Pilgrimage ” ).
Muslims, During this sacred month, fast from all kind of food and water from dawn until sunset. in the end of the day, when they hear the sun set call to prayer announced by mosques through a loudspeakers, muslims do the prayer and break the fast.
Lunar Islamic Calendar
Lunar Calendar is also called Hijri Calendar, it depend on the moon and muslims use it to know the dates of religious events and observances. In a lunar year, there are 12 months of 29 to 30 days each :
1/ Muharram مُحَرَّم
2/ Ṣafar صَفَر
3/ Rabia al-awwal رَبِيع ٱلْأَوَّل
4/ Rabia attani رَبِيع ٱلثَّانِي
5/ Jomada al-awwal جُمَادَىٰ ٱلْأَوَّل
6/ Jomada attani جُمَادَىٰ ٱلثَّانِيَة
7/ Rajab رَجَب
8/ Shaaban شَعْبَان
9/ Ramaḍan رَمَضَان
10/ Shawwal شَوَّال
11/ Do al-Qiada ذُو ٱلْقَعْدَة
12/ Do al-Ḥijja ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة
When Does RAMADAN Begin and End ?
The religious authorities, depending on the testimony of the moon sighters, announce the first day of RAMADAN which lasts 29 to 30 days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
Concerning the first and the last day of RAMADAN, muslims have two days of doubts and as said before, the sighters of the moon inform the evening before if Ramadan starts or finishes the next day. Then, it is announced via the moroccan TV channels, radios channels and in the mosques after the sun set prayer ( Maghrib Prayer ) and is never known for example 1 week, 1 month or something like that before.
Visiting Morocco During RAMADAN
What changes in Morocco during Ramadan ?
There are some changes in the moroccans daily routines, outside in the street and in general, we can say that nights become days and days become nights.
Some examples of moroccans do :
- People sleep too late than usual and those who do not have obligations in the morning, they wake up late.
- Some moroccan families have 2 meals : 1st one is the breaking-fast meal at sun set time and the meal at dawn time ( called Shour ) before they start fasting. While some other families may have a late dinner between the two meals after the Isha prayer ( after arround 3 or 4 hours from the breaking-fast meal ).
- Some shops will not be open before 10am or even in some places 11am and others like restaurants may not be open at all during the day.
- Most of businesses (supermarkets, banks and more) will have different opening hours and close early so that the workers can make it home in time for the breaking-fast meal.
- Monuments, historical sites, museums, and other tourist attractions might adjust their hours and will most likely close early.
- After around 5pm, you will find some people hurrying to their home especially those who will prepare their breaking-fast meal. Everything is quiet in the street by the maghrib prayer ( sun set prayer ) when families and friends are gathering to eat and at this moment for almost 20 to 30minutes, you will meet really few people outside.
- After breaking the fast, cafes, restaurants and local vendors begin to open again and moroccans take a stroll to shop and to walk off all the food they ate during the breaking-fast meal.
- Before the time of Fajr prayer ( first prayer of the day before sun rise ), moroccan families wake up to have the last meal before starting the fast and they stop eating with the call to prayer.
Special experiences while visiting Morocco during Ramadan
if you are visiting Morocco during Ramadan, you should experience a traditional Moroccan breaking-fast meal, which may includes harira soup, dates, hard-boiled eggs, sweet pastries like Chebbakia, Msemmen, Baghrir, batbout ( bread ), fresh juices,…etc. So, do not refuse the invitation to any moroccan friend house to experience that with them.
In case you can not attend breaking fast meal with a local family. Many hotels and restaurants offer a traditional meal, which will still make you having a wonderful experience.
During the evening, you can go near to the mosque and witness hundreds of Muslims doing the Isha prayer ( evening prayer ) and the extra prayers called Taraweeh which they do only during Ramadan. If you are in Casablanca, you can go to the largest mosque in Morocco and Africa called Hassan II where you will find thousands of worshippers during the evening prayers and it may even be hundreds of thousands of people in some days.
Finally, try to interact with Moroccans and ask them about Ramadan and being in morocco at this period until the end of Ramadan, you will be able to celebrate with your moroccan friends the celebration of the end of Ramadan called Eid AL Fitr.
Do I have to fast as a non muslim ?
Do not worry about this, you do not have to fast and you will find a few open restaurants and cafes during the day and you will find more especially in touristic cities which expect to serve non-fasting foreign residents and tourists.
Drinking and eating in public is forbidden for Moroccans during a day, unless in case of pregnancy or illness and it does not apply to non-Muslims. As a non muslim visitor or resident in Morocco during Ramadan, you can eat outside in public but moroccans will greatly appreciate if you show the respect for them if you eat where you are staying, inside restaurants or in any isolated places.