Ramadan is the ultimate test of resilience and brings out the best of Moroccan society.
Rabat – Although I have spent nearly two years in Morocco, I have always somehow missed the opportunity to spend Ramadan in-country. This year, I finally have the chance to spend Ramadan in Morocco and experience all the feelings of camaraderie and goodwill that often go hand-in-hand with Ramadan.
Since my initial discovery of Islam and the Moroccan culture, fasting has always seemed daunting. I was fortunate enough to spend a year in Meknes, Morocco where I dove into studying Modern Standard Arabic and subsequently, Islam. I lived with a Moroccan family for a year and got a firsthand look at the festivities of Ramadan during Eid al-Fitr.
Although I’m a Christian, I have always been fascinated by the holy month of Ramadan. My social circle in America consists primarily of Muslims and I’ve had many unique opportunities to partake in Ramadan festivities such as attending ftour at local mosques and Eid al-Adha celebrations. I’ve always dreamed of spending Ramadan in a Muslim country to feel the true spirit of Ramadan.
For me, Ramadan is about feeling closer to God, spending time with loved ones, and of course, fasting.
The first few days of Ramadan in Morocco have been surreal. I knew fasting would be a physical challenge but I did not consider the mental fortitude required to fast from sunrise to sunset. Racing the call to prayer and consuming liters of water at 4:00 a.m is no easy feat but the hardest challenge has been resisting temptation.
By 5:00 p.m, your body is sounding the alarms for nutrients and water. By 6:00 p.m, one can’t help but count the minutes until the maghreb prayer.
For my first ftour, I decided to cook something traditional: harira soup with a side of chebakia. After a long day of work, it was extremely tiring to prepare the tomato-based, traditional soup. However, the first taste was more than worth it as flavors of saffron and chickpeas blended with the sweetness of the chebakia.
The next day, I was lucky enough to be invited to a colleagues house for ftour. As the saying goes, “there is nothing like a home cooked meal.” In the name of tradition, we broke the fast with a date and a glass of milk. Then, we dove into a mound of seffa medfouna prepared by my colleagues mother. Seffa medfouna is the perfect combination of salty and sweet as it features tender, marinated chicken covered by a mound of sweet vermicelli noodles. The dish is topped with cinnamon, crushed almonds, raisins, and powdered sugar and is the perfect meal after a long day of fasting.
Fasting has opened my eyes to a new side of determination. Luckily, fasting in Morocco is made slightly easier by everyone being supportive of each other. The sense of community in Morocco is unparalleled and Ramadan has only heightened the feelings of fellowship, especially when it comes to fasting.
When American friends ask, “Why Morocco?” I always answer, “you simply wouldn’t understand unless you visited, the people are more friendly and welcoming than one could imagine.”
In America, many often fall into a strict daily routine which offers little time for social interaction. However, Moroccans understand the importance of companionship and implement it into every aspect of their lives. What some call tberguig (nosiness), I call caring for one another.
Fasting has been a spiritual journey for me and I look forward to spending each day fasting alongside members of the community. I am grateful to be accepted into Moroccan society with open arms and take pride in knowing I have the unique opportunity to experience Ramadan in Morocco with my Muslim peers.