Ramadan takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and it varies from year to year as this calendar is based on the lunar cycle. According to tradition this is the month in which the Koran was revealed as a guide for mankind, clear proof of the righteous path and salvation. On the evening of the 27th of the month, the day on which Mohamed received the revelation of the holy Koran, Muslims celebrate Laylat-al-Qadr (the night of power).
Travelling to the Arab world during Ramadan may cause some nuisance since during the day many restaurants are closed, bars and discos stay shut altogether; opening times of shops, banks, offices, museums and tourist sites are also restricted.
During Ramadan it is a good idea not to eat, drink and smoke in public during the day. Always ask permission before taking anyone’s picture, especially women, and do not photograph potential strategic targets. In Morocco non Muslims are forbidden from entering mosques, except for the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. Moroccan culture, like in many other Mediterranean countries, is not exactly steeped in precision and punctuality. Therefore be prepared and remember that the only thing to do in cases of lateness is not to be alarmed and wait, perhaps asking several times. In any case please refer to your guide. During the period of Ramadan you may experience more inconveniences as the rhythm of work and life in general is reduced to a bare minimum. Obviously this is no the case for all Moroccans, but it is the general tendency.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting occurs from the first light at dawn until dusk; generally a light meal is consumed just before sunrise (suhur) to have enough energy for the rest of the day. Once the day is over a small evening meal is prepared (iftar), after a prayer which interrupts the fast until the next morning. This “fast” is not only about abstaining from all food and drink, but also sexual contact or any other impure thoughts and actions, during the entire day until sunset. You must not argue, lie or slander. During fasting spiritual prevails over material significance whereby mankind obeys a divine order. It teaches man to keep physical desires under control and thus transcends its human nature and get closer to divinity.
During Ramadan every observant Muslim goes to the mosque to pray. During this period, in addition to the usual five daily prayers, they must recite a special prayer, the Taraweeh, the night prayer.
END OF RAMADAM
The end of Ramadam is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, with a three-day celebration called Id-al-Fitr (festival of breaking of the fast), during which relatives and friends get together for lunches and the exchange of gifts.