Ramadan is the holy month in Morocco and this is no exception for Sefrioui Muslims. During Ramadan, Sefrouians exert energy to worship and pray to God during a time which requires strict fasting from sunrise until sunset. Abstinence from food and drink is only one part of fasting, as Muslims must also refrain from lying, gossiping and any other sin. While the body is robbed of essential food items and water, the soul is nourished with mindfulness and worship. According to Hsain lahiane’s article, The social mobility of the Haratine and the re-working of Bourdieu’s Habitus on the Saharan Frontier, Morocco (June 2001), he describes Ramadan as ‘a month of reconciliation, repentance, and intense worship of God’. Therefore, Muslims need to pray and worship God to gain access to heaven before Judgement Day. Worship for Muslims (and, by extension, most Sefrouians) assumes the form of prayer (salaat), fasting (sawm), and charity (zakaat). For Muslims, charity is an umbrella term that includes almsgiving, social reconciliation, forgiveness, kindness, cleaning, and good deeds that benefit the self and others
During Ramadan, the streets are deserted when Sefrouians are either at the mosques worshipping or at cafes reconnecting with family and friends. It is rare for Sefrouians to frequent the marketplace for food and drink unless they are exempted from fasting or are purchasing groceries to prepare iftar – the term for breaking fast. Foods and desserts rich in glucose are prepared to nourish the body after a long day. Although Muslims traditionally break their fast with dates (tamr), Moroccans also prepare desserts like sfouf or briwat. While sfouf is a sweet collection of toasted and ground almonds, sesame, and flour with warm spices and honey, briwat is a “finger-shaped” pastry that is filled with either sweet or savoury mixtures, depending on familial preference
According to one of the responses from our survey, one Sefrouian participant claimed: ‘most people do not leave their house unless it’s very urgent since fasting can be a bit tiring’. As a result, Sefrouians often enjoy a hearty suhoor (or pre-dawn meal) before the fasting period begins to ensure they are as energetic as possible during the fasting period for a day of worship. On the menu for Sefrioui families during suhoor is chebakia, golden-brown fried cookies covered in honey and sesame seeds. The energy from suhoor is helpful for worship and other necessary daily activities such as running errands, grocery shopping, attending school, and managing work responsibilities.
Another Ramadan tradition called Laylatul Qadr pays tribute to God for guidance and creation of humankind. It also referred to as the Night of Power,when the Qura’n was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The first verses of the Qura’n were shown with the command to ‘Read’.
“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists) (2) Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood (3) Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, (4) Who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)], (5) Has taught man that which he knew not.” (Chapter 96, verses 1-5)
People in Sefrou worship God devotedly and show gratitude to Him for watching over them and freeing them from their sins, and allowing them to obtain ‘peace ’til dawn’. In his article The night of power – Al-Qadr, Kulsoom Farhat claims that ‘a conscious realisation of the sanctity of this night acts as a shield against unworthy thoughts and inclinations’ (p. 3). Based on this quote, the night serves as a ‘shield’ from the unexpected during the daytime, in which nighttime is the only time to seek peace with God. During the nights of Ramadan, and especially Laylatul Qadr, Sefrouians hold Tarawih prayers in the mosque during which the night is considered sacred to them. Although praying at the mosque (masjid) is the primary form of worship during the night, some Sefrouians engage in other festivities. They host traditional celebrations such as hoisting young girls on elegant, roofed platforms called Amaria and listening to music, while others congregate in cafes or relatives’ homes. According to one of the responses we received from our survey, one person claimed that ‘one of the main rituals of the Sefrouians on Laylat al-Qadr is the celebration of young girls on Amaria wearing wedding costumes and listening to the tunes of Issawa (a popular band)’. This reveals a form of a festival held in the ending days of Ramadan where the night is a special time to pay tribute to God.
Ramadan rituals end on the eve of Eid, where families begin preparing for the joyous festivities the following day. Women join with one another to make halwas or sweets, children prepare their new clothes for Eid, and families prepare for happy home visits the following day. Eid is a day where gratitude is expressed towards God for the opportunity to observe Ramadan and where families gather to express love for one another and love for their tradition and faith.
Zehra Al-Timimi Rizvi
Zineb El Azhar
Bouazza, H. B. (2020, April 30). 10 Ramadan traditions in Morocco. Blue Door Cuisine. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://bluedoorcuisine.com/10-ramadan-traditions-in-morocco/
Farhat, Kulsoom. (November 23, 2018). The night of power – Al-Qadr. Army Medical College. pp. 1-4.
History.com Editors. (2010, October 28). Ramadan. History.com. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/ramadan Ilahiane, Hsain. (June 2001). The Social Mobility of the Haratine and the Re-Working of Bourdieu’s Habitus on the Saharan Frontier, Morocco. Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association. Vol. 3. pp. 380-394. JSTOR. Retrieved from:: https://www.jstor.org/stable/683472