Food in morocco: Food and Religion

An active member of the Islamic community, or umma, Morocco proudly proclaims its religious heritage. The king, in addition to his role as chief executive, is also the spiritual guide for his subjects.

 The Alowite dynasty, from which both the King of Morocco and the King of Jordan are descended, is one of the branches that traces its roots directly back to the prophet Mohammed.
Religion is very present in the hearts of all Moroccans.

In the words of a nineteenth century French traveler, Eugène Fromentin, as taken from his journal published in AD 1857 as A Summer in the Sahara, to understand that food and the divine form a whole in Morocco, “you must see that in Arab beliefs eating and giving something to eat are solemn acts and that a diffa (feast) is a great lesson in savoir vivre, generosity, and sharing attentions. Take note that it is not due to any social obligations... but in virtue of a divine inspiration, and, to use their words, it is as a messenger from God that the traveler is welcomed by his host. Their politeness therefore is explained not by conventions but rather is based on religious principle. They practice it with the same respect they have for all things that are holy and do so as an act of devotion. 
 

Therefore it is not at all a laughing matter to see robust men, in warrior’s attire with their amulets round their necks, stoically performing the small household duties that in Europe fall to women; seeing their large hands, hardened by the handling of horses and the practice of arms, serving at the table, slicing meat before serving it to you, showing the best cut in the back of a mutton, holding the carafe or, between each course, offering serviettes made of hand-woven wool. These attentions, which in our world appear puerile, perhaps even ridiculous, here become touching because of the contrast that exists between the man and the humble tasks he performs with strength and dignity. 


In large cities, every neighborhood has one or more public bread ovens where you can leave your bread, and even your cakes or mechoui (barbecued lamb), to be cooked.

Celebrations such as family visits, weddings, and circumcisions are all occasions for the lady of the house to show off her culinary talents. Likewise, for religious holidays such as the Prophet’s birthday, Laylat al Qadr, Laylat al Seghir, Ashoura, and the month of Ramadan, daily fares give way to festive and culinary celebrations.

Among the Five Pillars of Islam, Ramadan holds a special place. The Prophet wanted this to test the faith of the converts, and fasting lasts 30 days. It is a way of bringing families together to share the food that will deliver the soul at sunset.

Unlike Christian fasting which is considered penitence, atonement for sins, and a battle against natural instincts, fasting during Ramadan is for a Muslim a way to serve God, to pay homage to Him. Thus Ramadan has become a period of joy, and pride for the believer who is given the opportunity to manifest his belonging to Islam. It is a period of celebration that is given concrete expression around the table in the form of delicious foods.
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