By Jamal Saidi
By Jamal Saidi
Morocco World News
Casablanca, August 12, 2012
Serving the community is a deeply rooted tradition in Moroccan culture. It is vividly seen through various ways. On Friday, a Muslim holiday, a hungry person will knock randomly on any door to ask for couscous, a traditional meal, and he or she, despite having no means, will be served with nothing expected in return. Thus, one shall not be surprised to see many impoverished people eating couscous in the neighborhoods of the cities. These people are usually served by an ordinary woman who consciously serves her community. This unprecedented human solidarity is obviously very common within the Moroccan cultural context.
In different occasions, be it a wedding or a funeral, Moroccans have the tendency to serve one another. Neighbors offer their help through different ways. They would be pleased to offer their house, in case there is a need for more space for a given ceremony. Everything is at the service of the person in need, ranging from the kitchen to the bedroom.
Solidarity does not take only a purely materialistic form; it transcends to a psychological one. A neighbor, for instance, who may be in the hospital, gets visited by nearly all the residents of the neighborhood. The latter usually bring some healthy food, especially fruits, but most importantly they tend to comfort the person with countless prayers and wishes for better health.
Another image of the communal spirit in Morocco is that of putting one’s know-how at the service of the community. For instance, some customs require specific skills in order to be culturally and, sometimes, religiously accepted. The bride, for example, does not only have to wear certain clothing for the occasion, but must also be made up in a special way. This cannot be possible without the help of a woman who would offer this service voluntarily, especially in rural areas.
A dead Muslim body shall be washed following some certain strict religious customs. A person is usually known for offering such service. This person would do that out of solidarity with a brother or a sister in Islam.
This leads us to another important matter. It is due to the positive role of Islam that encourages the exercise of community service in the country. The Islamic doctrine stresses the necessity of giving a hand to the most vulnerable individuals. This manifests itself through some verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, or through the Hadith, speeches or actions reported of the prophet Mohammed (PUH). There are many religious scripts which highlight the positive attitude of Islam towards community service. The following demonstrates two concrete examples, one from the Quran and another from the Hadith.
“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Book and the Messengers; to spend of your substance out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask…”(Quran 2: 177).
This verse implies, to a great extent, that a Muslim cannot claim to be righteous without having the willingness to serve the other, from orphans to the needy.
In the same regard, the prophet Mohammed is reported to have said, “Believers are like one person. If his head aches, the whole body aches with fever and sleeplessness” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
The strengthening of the long-held tradition of serving the community is needed more than ever. The reason lies in the fact that Morocco is facing the challenge of addressing numerous social ills. The issue of homeless children is a case in point.
At this critical juncture in the history of our country when people are becoming increasingly individualistic, it is high time we remembered the teachings of our religion and make them the basis and the source that govern our behavior in our society.