Things to Know When Visiting Morocco during Ramadan
Updated: May 2, 2020
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is one of the most important Islamic month for Muslims. It is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan changes every year and it depends on the sighting of the crescent moon. The beginning and end of Ramadan are determined by a moon sighting committee. It begins the day after the committee spots the new crescent moon. If the moon isn’t visible to the naked eye because of haze or clouds, lunar calculations are used to predict whether it’s in the sky. In 2020, Ramadan in Morocco begins on April 24, and may end on May 24 with Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
The naming of Ramadan stems from the Arabic root “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat. 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. Fasting, as the third of “Five Pillars of Islam” during that month as a way for Muslims to commemorate the revelation of the Quran (ref: National Geographic). After the last day of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate its ending with Eid al-Fitr—the “festival of breaking the fast”—which begins with communal prayers at daybreak.
During Ramadan, fasting from sunrise to sunset is obligatory for all Muslims in Morocco, except for the ills, pregnant, elderly, menstruating or tourists. Most of the Moroccans extend their abstaining from food, drink to sexual relations, smoking, and other activities. During this time, Muslims also devote more time to prayer and acts of charity, striving to improve their self-discipline and self-control. The nights of Ramadan for Moroccans turn into a day. After performing the evening prayer and then performing the Tarawih prayer, people rush to meet or gather to have iftar (meal at sunset that breaks the fast - “breakfast”).
This year, the Coronavirus Pandemic is disrupting Ramadan observances across the world, closing mosques and upending plans for traditional suhoor and iftar gatherings. Moroccans are locked down at home and each family has only one pass to go out for grocery shopping. People have to follow the quarantine rules and pray at home. But the spirit of this centuries-old tradition still remains the same for many as a time for inner reflection and better understanding of the less fortunate through the act of fasting.
What Ramadan will affect tourists?
If you choose to travel to Morocco during Ramadan, you should anticipate some changes during this time.
The good side 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.
You can 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 (see picture). You may be invited to someone’s house for iftar, then you will experience a traditional iftar with family and friends celebrating an exciting holy month. Or you can simply get traditional, authentic iftar meals from your restaurants or hotels.
During the evening, you can strolling by a mosque and witness hundreds of Muslims worshipping together, which is truly a memorable experience. It is specially true for the Hassan II Mosque located at Casablanca, one of the largest mosques in the world that can accommodate 100,000 prayers.
On the other side, you may have to adjust your itineraries during Ramadan. Many shops open later than usual during this holy month as shop owners and shoppers try to recover from their late nights of feasting and activities. This also includes national monuments, banks ect. Many restaurants are closed throughout Ramadan with only few of them remaining opened to the tourists. You may find it difficult to buy alcohol even in the local supermarkets as they stop selling alcohol a week before Ramadan, during the whole month of Ramadan and around 3 days after Ramadan.
We know during this Ramadan you can not travel to Morocco due to Coronavirus Pandemic. But in future, if you plan to visit Morocco with us at Sahara Sky Tours in Ramadan, we will modify the itineraries to accommodate you during this special time. We have differnt tour packages with different length, prices and focus. We are very flexible and can coordinate with local restaurants, hotels or shops that are still open during Ramadan to provide you with an unique travel experience in Morocco.
Contact us for questions or concerns.