Ramadan in Morocco: From a religious ritual to a cultural practice
By Larbi Arbaoui
Morocco World News
Tinjedad, Morocco, July 30, 2012
Fasting the holy month of Ramadan is compulsory for every mature and sound Muslim, just like the other four pillars of Islam except for Pilgrimage, the fifth pillar, which is obligatory once for a life time only for those who can afford it.
Fasting Ramadan, even though it comes at the third place after the five daily regular prayers, is a ritual that has a commanding authority over the majority of Muslims. There are many Muslims who are not committed to the regular five prayers a day, but when Ramadan comes they can’t help but fast with the rest of people.
Why such people turn a deaf ear to the daily five calls for prayers while they can’t eat in day light during Ramadan in a free of blame consciousness?
The five pillars of Islam are set in a sequential order, which calls the believers to carry out and put into practice in a logical order. Out of reason, one can’t perform the customary five prayers without announcing devotedly the “Shahadah” (the belief and sincere voicing that there is no God but Allah and Mohamed is His messenger). Also, it looks weird and out of the ordinary to see people fasting the whole Ramadan, while feeling reluctant to perform the prayers which come prior in the sequential order of the five Islamic cornerstones. For this category, responding to an Islamic preaching and rejecting the other may be understood as a religious hypocrisy. But if we look at it from another perspective, we may come to form another understanding of this phenomenon.
Unlike praying, fasting during Ramadan is perceived as a cultural ceremony more than a religion ritual. For this reason, people who don’t recurrently pray or even respond to the other Islamic teachings still feel jubilant and excited about the coming of this holy month. The strong social and cultural dimension of Ramadan in the common sense of the popular masses makes it a forcible duty on people. Any attempt to contravene the rite of fasting during Ramadan will leave the doer in a psychological discomfort under the mercy of the mockery of the invisible socio-cultural mechanisms governing the community.
Another reason that shows that Ramadan has a more cultural dimension in our society is when we see some people engaged in profane and immoral acts during the nights of Ramadan, but wake up fasting. More funny is the case of drunkards who stop drinking alcohol forty days before the beginning till the end of Ramadan in what they call respect for the holy month. There are even those who don’t pay any sense of respect to this “religious break” and keep their routine of smoking and drinking wine only at nights, whereas in daytime they, let say, don’t eat, smoke or drink anything till the Ftour meal. The most choking acts are those of adultery and licentious social evenings that are in stark contradiction with religion organized every night to celebrate the holy month.
All these practices seemed to be a far cry from religion, but, unfortunately, still exist. The people who are indulged in such immoral acts have no regard for religion. However, they tend to comply with the rite of fasting during Ramadan not as an act of obedience to the religious teachings, but only because Ramadan has another socio-cultural dimension from which it gains its authority.