My days have melted into a schedule that in America during Ramadan would never happen. I stay awake until 4:30 – 5am trying to wait out the intense heat that continues even through the night and into the day soaring over degrees 100F. I awake when even my fan can’t decrease the level of heat in my house which is usually 10 -11am.
I read the Qur’an and memorize it with the help of my old site mates host father- I now have the last three surahs almost perfectly committed to memory – InshaAllah they will be committed sooner than later perfectly in my mind like a brand. Baba as I call him – is also helping me with my pronunciation – he helps me because the large local madrassa in my site is only for men. Which if you have never heard what sounds like a hundred voices at once reciting Qur’an – its a magical and beautiful thing. So instead I sit in the family salon and I learn with him.
I am invited to my upstairs neighbors house for iftar when two fellow PCV’s come through my site and spend the night – we eat and laugh with them about our Arabic and learn about their family – which the oldest son was visiting from France with his wife and toddler son.
I talked with my fellow PCV’s about the us vs them view regarding Muslims and Islam that is so strong amongst my fellow PCV’s and in country PC staff – and how sad I am to see that. Oddly I – my friend mentions fall into the quasi us and quasi them category – since I am one of maybe 4 or 5 PCV’s who are “Muslim” serving in Morocco.
Why do I write “Muslim” like this you maybe wondering? Because although an individual can be born or convert to Islam and be labelled or self identify as Muslim – what separates the cow from the herd so to speak- is practice of the faith. And not just a McDonald’s have it your way kind of practice either.
I will leave it at that – as its not my place to judge but I believe there is a difference between observing cultural traditions and religious practice.
The urge to cook died when the heat wave returned like a tide. Mama as I call my old site mates host mom – is insistent I am not eating enough – (which she says to me even when its not Ramadan) – which seems only ironic to me as woman who has been plus size my whole life adult life- suddenly is told I never eat enough.
I have lost a significant amount of weight since coming to Morocco – Alhamdulillah but I am still not the same height or size as the average Moroccan woman in the northern regions – although I am probably considered a goddess in the southern Sahara part of Morocco – where plus size women reign supreme.
I concede her point and tell her the heat has killed my desire for food. To which she replies – Kulli (Eat!) in Moroccan Arabic to me & then asks if I am trying to diet – and tells me I am crazy to try that while its Ramadan- while dishing up piping hot harira soup – in 100+ heat.
The streets right before the breaking of the fast are busy with men and young boys going to the local hanut and souq for last minute items such as milk, dates, watermelon and batiq – a melon that has a yellow rind and green flesh inside.
I when I walk over to Baba’s house – I’m one of the few women walking the streets as the rest of the women of Morocco are in the kitchen preparing iftar and getting their tables ready to serve the food.
When I return to my house around 9 – 10 pm being walked home by Baba’s youngest son – I notice again the streets are empty of women – although the garden’s are full of families – as the men make their choice between the cafe and the masjid for taraweeh prayer.
The streets of my old medina are filled with children playing – its rare for a Moroccan child to be an only child – so I watch as kids beat their younger sibling up and the younger kids plot revenge under the street lights in narrow spaces between the houses.
Once I return home I fling open my windows and attempt to divine a cool breeze if I am lucky – one comes through my window.
I end the night reading Qur’an and praying Fajr – a lone woman – Muslim – in Morocco – facing her God on her knees seeking mercy.
This article is by Sister Alicia Noor, an American Muslimah who is a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Morocco at the moment.
She blogs at americanmuslimahsmusings.wordpress.com