Ramadan in Morocco

Definition

Ramadan, Arabic Ramaḍān, in Islam, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered the holiest month for Muslims and one in which most people in Morocco participate in at least some way. Observant Muslims fast from food, all liquids, smoking, any sexual interaction, and impure or bad thoughts from sunrise to sunset every day for the month. They also visit the mosque and perform additional prayers and religious tasks during this time.

At sunset, after the 4th call to prayer, an iftar (breakfast) occurs. During this time you will likely discover the streets of even the largest Moroccan cities are completely deserted as people are in their homes to eat.

 

What Tourists Should Expect When traveling to Morocco During Ramadan

What does the month of Ramadan mean for those visiting?

If you are visiting Morocco during Ramadan, you will experience distinctive aspects of the culture that are only apparent once a year. Muslims fast from all food and water from dawn until sunset.

When it is time to break the fast you will hear the evening call to prayer, which is announced through a loudspeaker. After a long day fasting, the prayer excites many Muslims as they enjoy iftar (the breaking of the fast) with their family and friends.

After iftar, you will witness rows upon rows of people praying at mosques for the evening prayer, followed by a special prayer that is only recited during Ramadan. Around 11 p.m. or midnight dinner is served.

If you are visiting during the spiritual month of Ramadan, it is impossible not to connect with the unique local foods and traditions.

What changes during Ramadan?

As days become nights and nights become days, adjusting to the time and eating schedule might be challenging, so you may need a good measure of patience.

Everyone stays up late, and the following day do not expect to find anything open before 10 a.m. as people will sleep in much later than usual.

You might come upon some shops and restaurants that are not open at all during the day. Also, the majority of businesses (banks, supermarkets, and more) will have different store hours, closing early so that the workers can make it home in time for iftar.

Another thing to keep in mind when visiting is that monuments, historical sites, museums, and other tourist attractions might adjust their hours and will most likely close early.

Around 5:30-6:30 p.m., you will find a fast-paced crowd hurrying to prepare for iftar. Everything is quiet by 7:30 p.m. when family and friends are gathering to eat iftar. Then, at 9:30 p.m. restaurants, cafes, and local vendors in the medina (old walled city) begin to open again. Business booms as everyone take a stroll through the medina to shop and to walk off all the food they ate during iftar.
Most importantly, you should be aware of the time change. While Morocco adopts Daylight Saving Time in the spring, the country moves back to the standard time just before Ramadan, so the time changes back to Greenwich Mean Time.

After the iftar, you will witness rows upon rows of people praying at mosques for the evening prayer, followed by a special prayer that is only recited during Ramadan. Around 11 p.m. or midnight dinner is served.

If you are visiting during the spiritual month of Ramadan, it is impossible not to connect with the unique local foods and traditions.

I am not Muslim. Do I have to fast?

The answer is no. There are a few restaurants and cafes that remain open during the day and expect to serve non-fasting tourists or foreign residents.

It is forbidden for Moroccans to eat and drink in public, unless they have special conditions where they do not need to fast, such as an illness or pregnancy. The rules do not apply to visitors or non-Muslims; however, everyone fasting will greatly appreciate it if you avoid eating in public.

You may consider eating inside a restaurant or wherever you are staying (hotel, Airbnb, host family, etc).

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Everyone visiting Morocco during Ramadan should experience a traditional Moroccan iftar, which consists of spiced harira soup, Moroccan brochettes, hard-boiled eggs, dates, sweet pastries, batbout (bread), and fresh-squeezed juices.

Being invited to someone’s house for iftar is ideal because you will experience a traditional iftar with family and friends celebrating an exciting holy month.

Do not worry if you cannot attend iftar at someone’s house. Many restaurants and hotels offer traditional, authentic iftar meals, which will still make a wonderful experience.

During the evening, make sure to stroll by a mosque and witness hundreds of Muslims worshipping together as it is truly a memorable experience. One mosque that you might want to visit is the largest mosque in Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque located in Casablanca.

Lastly, interact with Moroccans you encounter and ask them questions about Ramadan and learn what this holiday means to them.

Ramadan might present challenges to tourists visiting Morocco, but it is also an eye-opening cultural experience that you will not discover elsewhere.

This feature is part of an exclusive series at Morocco World News for Ramadan. Also in the series is:

Why is Ramadan the holiest month?

Muslims believe that in A.D. 610, the angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad and revealed to him the Quran, the Islamic holy book. That revelation, Laylat Al-Qadar—or the “Night of Power”—is believed to have occurred during Ramadan. Muslims fast during that month as a way to commemorate the revelation of the Quran.

What happens to your body during Ramadan?

Your body becomes more energetic and you experience improved memory and concentration. At this stage, the organs are finishing up their healing process, and once all toxins are removed the body is able to function at its maximum capacity.

How do Muslims fast?

During the holy month of Ramadan, which occurs on the ninth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar, all Muslims are required to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for 30 days. … After sundown, Muslims break their fast with iftar, a meal which usually starts with dates and water or milk, followed by dinner.

Is Ramadan a good time to visit Morocco?

The good sides of being in Morocco during Ramadan:

The first reason to visit Morocco during Ramadan is that you’ll have the chance to see an event that only happens for one month every year. You’ll get to see a very important part of the Moroccan culture and witness an event that is sacred to Muslims.

Is Ramadan a good time to visit Morocco?

The good sides of being in Morocco during Ramadan:

The first reason to visit Morocco during Ramadan is that you’ll have the chance to see an event that only happens for one month every year. You’ll get to see a very important part of the Moroccan culture and witness an event that is sacred to Muslims.

How do Moroccans celebrate Ramadan?

Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, involves abstaining from food, drink, sexual relations, smoking, and other activities between sunrise and sunset. Its conclusion is marked by Eid al-Fitr, one of the two major Islamic holidays; the other is Eid al-Adha (aka Eid al-Kabir).

Does Ramadan affect tourists in Morocco?

The simple answer is: No. There’s no need for you to fast while visiting Morocco during Ramadan. Restaurants, cafes, and other eating establishments will mostly remain open, particularly in tourist hubs such as Marrakesh and Fez. No one expects tourists to fast.

Must-Do Activities for Tourists During Ramadan in Morocco

Are you traveling to Morocco this summer and your vacation dates fall during Ramadan? Are you worried there might not be enough activities during the holy month? Worry not! From sightseeing to delicious dishes, Morocco is a holiday destination even during Ramadan. Take a look at our Must-Do Ramadan Activities to get the gist of some of the culturally enriching experiences Morocco has to offer.  

 

Have Iftar and a Suhur Meal

The iftar meal with which Muslims break their fast after sunset is a celebration in Morocco. Cities burst to life with endless feasts and plenty of the traditional Moroccan tomato soup.  From the ambrosial foods to the gatherings of family and friends, be sure that iftar will be one of your favorite experiences while visiting Morocco during Ramadan.

If you’re acquainted with Moroccan families, make sure to schedule an Iftar together as it can guarantee a genuine Ramadan Moroccan experience and some delicious home-cooked food.

Suhur, a pre-fast meal taken before dawn, is also worth a try. So, make sure to experience it as well.

Experience Suhur and Iftar on the beach

The early morning and post-sunset hours in summer are usually the best for a visit. Pack up your food and blankets and enjoy your feast by the waves and sand.

Do Some Shopping

A trip to Morocco would be incomplete without a post-iftar shopping trip to the local market, which offers Ramadan-related items such as Moroccan-style candle holders, misbaha, and lanterns.

Big cities in Morocco tend to live life in haste. The holy month, however, slows things down. Work hours are generally shorter and shopping centers are a lot less crowded and busy, a perfect occasion for shopping and contemplation in the cities.

Eat-in Fast-food Restaurants

Tourists won’t have trouble exploring Morocco during Ramadan as most of the tourist attractions are available during the day.

Fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Quick don’t close during the holy month, in case you want to grab food as you enjoy the location you are in.

See the Mosques

An ideal way to understand the spiritual importance of Ramadan is to pay the surrounding mosques a visit and observe the time and energy Muslims devote to prayer during Ramadan.

Right after iftar, people come out to enjoy the medinas, gardens, henna artists, street art performers, and many more things.

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