Sarah Ashour is a student at SUNY College at Old Westbury and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.
Ramadan is a Muslim holiday during the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which fasting from food, as well as desires, is observed from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is something everyone should experience in a Muslim country, whether you are Muslim or not. The entire aura of the country will change during this holy month, and the people that surround you begin to emit a new light. Studying abroad in Morocco during Ramadan was a long sought goal for me because I am Muslim and have been fasting in the U.S. my whole life. Having the chance to experience one of my very own holidays around others who are practicing was such an amazing opportunity.
During Ramadan in Morocco, many people do not come out during the day, but at night—that is a completely different story! After sunset Muslims break their fast, which is called iftar or futoor. After sundown the streets become packed with people, and you can barely contain your excitement. Everyone goes to cafes to drink mint tea or coffee, alongside tasty Moroccan desserts. The night air is cool and here in Meknes, after I break my fast, my friends and I go to the Old Medina to watch snake charmers, get amazing shopping deals in the Medina, and play with monkeys!
Part of Ramadan is fasting from sunrise to sunset, which in the summer can be 15 hours or more! Being around other people who are not eating can really help the struggle. One of the hardest parts is definitely the heat because you can get dehydrated and feel a lack energy. On the bright side, ISA provides so many different excursions and activities that I am always occupied and never really feel the hunger, which is something I can’t say about fasting in the States. What is even greater is that many of my fellow ISA friends here wanted to experience fasting even though they are not Muslim, and they all say it is such a new and rewarding experience for them as well!
Being in Morocco for Ramadan has been one of the best experiences because of the mosques that surround you, the call to prayer or adhan in the streets, and the overall beauty of the country providing you with a sense of gratefulness and a wonderful distraction from the fact that you’re not eating.