Our last Ramadan Diary caused a flood of emails saying it's fine to hear what men talk about through the long Ramadan nights, but what about the women? Not a problem, today's Ramadan Diary comes to us courtesy of Fatima Zahra and her friends in Ziat
Around 9pm the men trouped out for coffee. I suggested that we could have made some at home, but they wanted to smoke and talk with their friends, and, as they pointed out, making coffee would just be another burden on top of cleaning up the table and doing the dishes. And of course there is the evening meal to prepare. So much better for them to be out of the house.
But we don't totally clean up, not yet. My friend Sara, who is visiting from France, fetches a jug of Laban Al Loz (flavoured almond milk) and Majdouline and Fatima wipe the table.
The dishes can wait.
"Moroccan women are amazing," Sara says, "If my husband did that I would kill him."
Of course she doesn't mean it, well, not literally.
From a house in the next street we can hear shouting. An argument has been going on for most of the afternoon. Thankfully they paused to break their fast.
"Ramadan," Majdouline sighs, "I hate the way people get short-tempered."
Sara pours the laban. It is cool and delicious. "Did you hear that the Christian Pope has got himself a Moroccan woman?"
Francesca Chaouqui - lawyer and financial genius!
There is a moment of jaw-dropping silence. She looks at our shocked faces and she blushes. "No! Not like that!"
"She's a finance genius and will be working to restructure the Vatican economy."
Majdouline wipes some laban from her mouth. "I read that. Francesca..."
"Chaouqui," Sara says.
"That is so good!" Fatima exclaims.
"What? That she got the job?"
"No, the laban. Delicious."
"It has orange flower water and a tiny pinch of cinnamon."
Fatima frowns. "Does it make you fat?"
"Fat is good." I say, having just read something about the women in the Moroccan Sahara. "In the Sahara they actually feed the girls up to make them fat." Nobody seems to believe me, so I explain that it is even worse in Mauritania where young girls are brutally force-fed a diet of up to 16,000 calories a day — more than four times that of a male bodybuilder — to prepare them for marriage. They still don't believe me so I pour some more laban. "Anyway this almond milk has no cholesterol."
|"What about that Dounia!"|
"What about that Dounia!" Sara says.
Around the table you can almost hear the sound of eyes rolling.
"What a hussy," Fatima says dismissively.
"Hush your mouth, honey," Majdouline says in near perfect American accented English. "The dear sweet thing is in lurve!"
The conversation about Moroccan singer, the Dounia Batma, goes on for the longest time. Her announcement that she is going to marry a man who is already married has sparked a debate throughout the country and even caused heated arguments between people with differing views.
Fatima fetches her laptop and searches for something she had been reading. "According to this, her man, Mohammed Alttork, has already spent around £210 000 on Dounia’s wedding ring, reportedly bought from Chaumet Paris. And, get this, Dounia’s wedding dress will costs about £1 000 000."
"How much is that in Dirhams?' Sara asks.
A segment of the Moroccan population responding to Dounia’s marriage argue that her disregard for his current marital status is detrimental to Morocco’s image in the Arab world and even internationally. The main argument of this segment of the Moroccan population is that Dounia’s approval of being a second wife to an ostensibly rich Gulf man only reinforces the notorious, destructive stereotypes about Moroccan women being “men robbers.” This is also said to solidify the annihilative stereotype that Moroccan women are only after foreign people’s wealth and influence.
Her consent to be the second wife of a man is, according to some Moroccans, an official reinforcement of patriarchal principles related to marital life, in which men phallocentrically enjoy the right to marry as many women as they please, something that is seen as confirming their patriarchal hegemony and superiority over the other gender.
In light of this argument, Dounia’s decision to marry a man who is already bound to another woman pulls feminist struggles against patriarchy back to the medieval ages, since her consent appears voluntary and stems out of her own conviction. Whether Alttork had the consent of his first wife and his little daughter, and whether Dounia has ever shown any concern for the first wife’s rights and opinion are all details the couple maintain undisclosed. With these details left concealed, Dounia’s relationship with Alttork is conceived of as a “fishy” affair.
As I said, there was a lot to talk about. And, that's what I love about Ramadan. It is a chance to get together with friends I only see once a year and to talk about whatever we like.
The men make a noisy entrance into the room. I don't know what they've been talking about, but they go through to the kitchen and to my surprise I can hear them washing the dishes. Humdullilah.
See all the Ramadan Diary excerpts - RAMADAN DIARY