Islamic laws and Custom

Morocco is a Muslim country which follows the Islamic Laws. Nearly 99% of Morocco’s population are Muslims, but not all of them are practicing it. Still it is usefull to know a bit about the religion and the basic rules.

There are the Five pillars of Islam a Muslim should follow which includes five basic acts. They make up Muslim life, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage.

  1. Shahada (Faith) means to believe in the one (god) Allah, and his messenger/prophet, which is Mohammed. If someone wants to convert to Islam it is essential to utter a set statement (normally recited in Arabic) which says: “There is no god but God and Mohammed is the messenger of God” (لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا الله مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ الله)
  2. Salah (Prayer) includes praying five times a day in the direction of Mecca. The first one is before sunrise, the second one in the middle of the day after the sun has surpassed its highest point, the third one in the evening before sunset, the fourth one in the evening after sunset, and the last one is at night.
  3. Zakāt (Charity) means to share all you have with the poor people, or all the people who deserve it. This pillar is obligatory to all Muslims who are able to do so.
  4. Sawn (Fasting) describes the time in Ramadan from sunrise until sunset where the people don’t eat, drink, smoke etc. to pay respect to the people who don’t have enough to live.
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) means that every (able-bodied) muslim should travel to Mecca at least once in his life to clean his/her self from bad habits.

These pillars are extremely important for every Muslim, and therefore something you should respect. The Moroccan inhabitants are extremely open minded when it comes to different cultures or religions as long as you treat them with respect. Always have in mind: you are the visitor in their country.

Alcohol is not allowed by the Islamic laws. You can only get it in licensed hotels or bars, and in some supermarkets. Drinking on the streets, or generally in public is forbidden. Even drinking in your accomodation will not be possible if they don’t sell it there.

Sexual relations outside marriage are punishable by law. If you travel with your partner you should be careful with body contact, especially kissing. Sometimes in less touristic and more traditional places it can be a problem to get a room together if you are not married. But even if you are married it is not common to show any kind of affection in public.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Morocco and people who show it in public can be send to prison for it.

If you are traveling to Morocco during Ramadan you should respect the fact that everybody around you can’t eat or drink during the day. Try as good as possible not to eat in front of them, because it may cause the people to act agressively (which makes complete sense if you imagine how hungry they are). In your Hostel or Riad it is not a problem to eat/cook, and even inside some restaurants you can feel completely comfortable with eating. Drinking water, juice etc. on the street is fine, especially in the warmer months of summer. The exact date may change depending on the moon, but here the estiamted dates for the next years.

Ramadan 2020 – 24th of April to 23th of May
Ramadan 2021 – 13th of April to 12th of May
Ramadan 2022 – 3rd of April to 2nd of May
Ramadan 2023 – 23th of March to 21th of April

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