By Imrane Binoual
By Imrane Binoual
Casablanca, August 8, 2012
Signs of religious observance become more prominent in Morocco during the holy month of Ramadan. The young and the old, the destitute and the affluent, men and women show religiosity in a variety of ways.
Many Moroccans change their attitudes and display more religious fervor during the holy month than they do during other months of the year.
To gain an insight into these changes, Magharebia visited several mosques in Casablanca on different days and at different times of prayers.
The number of worshipers trebles during Ramadan. Moreover, in a number of districts, makeshift mosques have sprung up to accommodate both new and frequent worshipers. When the muezzin calls the faithful to come and pray, worshipers race to the mosque, even for dawn prayers. An even bigger number of them turn out on Fridays.
Student Houda Chafik believes that people’s faith is renewed during Ramadan thanks to the fasting and the general atmosphere which helps them to observe it.
For doctoral student Jamila Ezzaouine, however, many of these worshipers, whom she describes as occasional, are hypocrites “because they only remember to go to the mosque during this month”.
This upsurge in faith is also reflected in what people wear. Women pull their traditional clothing, especially djellabas, out of their wardrobes. Those who normally dress in a modern style make sure that they look decent.
“Despite the heat, women generally try to wear clothes that cover most of their bodies. They avoid wearing clothes with low necklines, sleeveless shirts and leotards,” said bank clerk Hanane Elkhold.
Indeed, despite the blistering summer heat, women are conservatively dressed. Swimming suits are rare on the beaches and around swimming pools in the kingdom’s economic capital.
Religious beliefs also manifest themselves in greater solidarity. Fasters are more charitable. One notable phenomenon is the rise in the number of so-called “restaurants of love”. Community organizations put up tents and set up kitchens in garages to serve iftar to the needy. Café owners also serve free food to people who are stranded away from home or to the poor.
Some young people pick up food and take it to hospitals so it can be given to destitute patients, while others volunteer to clean up mosques.