Taroudant, Morocco - Religion among Moroccan young people is not the monolith that Westerners might believe it to be.
Taroudant, Morocco – Religion among Moroccan young people is not the monolith that Westerners might believe it to be.
It is chiefly characterized by a contradictory combination of religious practices like being committed to the five regular prayers a day, that is the essence of true belief, and indulging in certain irreligious practices such as drinking alcohol, smoking and having illicit relations with the other sex. Although some young people apparently condemn and despise all the acts that have no religious basis, they still cannot help avoid being involved in such practices. These obvious contradictions between strict religious guidelines and the uncontrolled needs and desires of young people lead to internal tensions; this therefore gives birth to various patterns of religious commitments.
In Morocco, there is a kind of implicit consensus about religion as an indispensable social value. Yet, young people may fall into several religious categories. These categories may appear widely different; however, in principle they have many similarities. All of them regard Islam as their supreme ideal and background.
Unlike Muslims, Christians, or at least most Christian friends that I know, it is not obligatory to follow straightforwardly and faithfully all the teachings of Christianity so as to be considered a Christian. Once, I asked one of my friends who is a French Christian spontaneously about his religion. He replied surprisingly “je suis un Chrétien non pratiquant” which means in English, I am a non practicing Christian. I could not understand, then, how one can be called a Christian but at the same time seemingly not care about the responsibilities and instructions of Christianity. Because, in Islam one is practically a Muslim once she / he obeys faithfully the precepts and responds to the five pillars of Islam.
In the first category are those young people who do their utmost to keep their appearance in accordance with what is depicted in some “Islamic television channels” and conceived as the image of a young Muslim. Influenced by these channels and other forms of media, this category of Moroccan young people has adopted a totally different style of dress. For males, they put on short pants, jellaba and a black or white hat always on the top of their heads, while wearing a potent cologne that can be smelled from afar. For females, they put on a black or brown fabric from head to toe.
Another category is that of young people who are influenced by the artificial ornaments of the modern world. Like all young people in Europe and America, they keep abreast of the latest fashionable clothing styles, listen to rock and hip hop music, and watch the latest movies produced by Hollywood. They feel proud to have girlfriends or boyfriends and never feel embarrassed to walk with them openly in the streets, or even introduce them to their families. With respect to the aforementioned facts, the religious faith, among these young people, is constantly present. Personally, even though they look different to the first category, I can’t name them but Muslims.
There are also some individuals who identify themselves as “atheists”. Even though they maybe not officially or publicly declare their nihilism, it is well known among their friends and colleagues. Nevertheless, it is observed that religious practises predominate their daily life. They always say “Bismilah” in the name of Allah whenever they want to eat or drink, and “Hamdolilah” thanking God at the end of every meal, in addition to other numerous religious expressions. In general, their language is full of religious expressions. One would say that the Moroccan language is religious par excellence, but a true atheist is a person who is known for his conscious denial of the existence of a supreme being. Practically, they exclude the use of any religious expression in their language, which is not the case of “Moroccan atheists”.
What best characterizes all these Moroccan young people are the mutual respect they have for one another. No one forces their beliefs on the other. Tolerance is not a newly acquired human value for Moroccans– we are famous for it– but rather a virtue inherited from father to son.
Editing By Benjamin Villanti
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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