Rabat – The upcoming holy month of Ramadan is a time of fasting, reflection, self-control, and spirituality. During the one month period, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset. While the intention of Ramadan is to focus on one’s relationship with God, withdrawal symptoms during the day lead to a spike in unruly behavior, violence in the streets, and fighting.
Smoking, especially for Moroccan men, is an important facet of daily life. In 2016, the World Bank reported that 47% of Moroccan men smoke cigarettes, a higher percentage than the 34% of men globally and 40% of men in the Arab world that smoke.
However, during the entire month of Ramadan, smokers are only able to engage in such behavior at night, leading to an anxious daytime. Nicotine withdrawal combined with thirst and hunger provokes street fights and often trivial arguments.
Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s reaction to a sudden and drastic reduction in intake of addictive substances, such as hard drugs, caffeine, and nicotine. Those experiencing nicotine withdrawal suffer from irritability, anger, and difficulty in concentrating.
In 2016, within the first couple of days of Ramadan in Morocco, there were several incidents of fights, some of which led to murders, as a result of negative aggressive behavior of some fasting people who quit smoking. In Morocco, this behavior is known as “tramdina,” which indicates a psychological state of fasting.
One Moroccan man from Sale, Rabat’s neighboring city, told MWN to expect more street fights during the day, some of which include knives. He stated that his dad carries a knife with him for self defense as a result.
A study conducted at Hassan II University about irritability during Ramadan found that, “irritability was significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers before the beginning of Ramadan. Irritability increased continuously during Ramadan and reached its peak at the end of the month. Smokers and nonsmokers had a similar pattern of irritability over time, but irritability increased more in smokers than in nonsmokers.”
Along with higher rates of crime, a lack of food and water intake leads to more road traffic accidents during the month due to both irritability and inability to focus. Some people use bitterness due to fasting during Ramadan as an excuse to insult others around them, despite the purpose of the holy month to be reflective and spiritual.