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Ramadan, The Most Important Islamic Morocco Holiday
Ramadan, considered as the most important holiday in Islam, happens on the ninth month of the twelve month lunar calendar followed in Islam. These lunar months are twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, so Ramadan occurs earlier in each Gregorian year.
During the year of 2008, Ramadan in Morocco, Mauritania and Iran started a day later than in other countries celebrating Ramadan because the crescent of the new moon was not made visible. Muslims are required to wait until they see the moon because the prophet said begin the fast only when you the moon. However, it is usually between the dates of September 1 to September 29 that the ancient rituals of fasting (saum) and praying in accordance with Ramadan are performed.
During Ramadan, a holy holiday, all Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for one month, only eating after sundown. Non-Muslims are not expected to observe Ramadan, but should be sensitive about not breaking the fast in public. In its observance, Ramadan parallels the traditional Christian Lent. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it commemorates the time in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. The Ramadan fast involves abstention from food, drink smoking and sex during daylight hours throughout the months. It is forbidden to even drink water. No matter what part of the world you are from, all Muslims follow the same rules and traditions with regards to Ramadan.
During the times when you are allowed to eat, it is important to only eat healthy and nutritious things good for your body. The point of Ramadan is to show devotion to Allah and to become a master in self-discipline.
There are a few groups that are exempt from Ramadan, but are expected to make up the days during a later time. These groups include menstruating and postpartum women, pregnant and breast-feeding women, travelers and anyone who feels sick or weak. In addition, children before puberty do not have to fast, although many do so to practice for half the day.
Other noticeable changes include class hours getting changed so that they do not interfere with daily prayer. Although praying five times a day is the norm in Islam, prayer times are taken more seriously during Ramadan and many Muslims may go to mosque up to several times a day.
Traffic is even crazier than normal during Ramadan. At about five pm, everyone rushes home to eat as soon as the siren goes off. By six pm, the city is silent and streets are bare as most everyone is at home. Around seven pm, Moroccans are back on the street as they head to the mosque for prayer. After prayer, stores and restaurants open.
Most of the local cafes and restaurants close during the day during Ramadan, some closing for the entire month. For this reason, tourists who travell to Morocco during this holy month need to take this into consideration. At sunset signaled by the sounding of a siren and the lighting of lamps in all city minarets an amazing sense of calm takes over the streets as the fast is broken for the day.
Aïd el Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) marks the end of the thirty day fasting period and is a great celebration throughout the Muslim world. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three day period of special prayers, feasts and sweets.
Traditionally the fast is broken with a bowl of harira and dates. At the breaking of the fast, everyone in the cities and villages spend their evenings celebrating with food and entertainment. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Aïd es Seghir (Aïd el Fitr, Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr) a two-day holiday.
While Ramadan may seem like a perplexing holiday to non-Muslims, non-believers may be surprised to learn how much Muslims look forward to the fast. Many feel it is a time of spiritual healing and cleansing. Post Ramadan, many Muslims participate in Shawwal, a six day fast following Aïd el Fitr. Since Ramadan is a holiday of learning to become a better person, Muslims prepare foods and buy presents to give to their friends, family and the poor.