Monday, July 13, 2015

Ramadan Diary ~ 2015 ~ Day Twenty-Six

Ibn Warraq continues his Ramadan Musings...

The heat continues. Forty-one degrees and the week ahead looks to be nothing different. Despite the weather, shopping for Eid is getting manic. So are the prices. A friend went to buy a djellaba exactly like the one she already owns. She found it but discovered that, due to demand, the price had doubled. And, money is an issue. At my local hanout, the shop owner showed me a fat notebook. "All on credit," he sighed. "It will be months before I get paid and I might have to put off going down South to my family."

And around the f'tour tables across the Medina, money is also one of the issues being argued over.

"I need more money for the children's clothes"
'The girls have got new dresses but now our boy wants new shoes."
"There is no money for a sheep."
"Well, you can buy clothes or go for a week's holiday after Eid."

... and so it goes.

As one friend said. "If people went on like this about money all year, there would be no married couples left!"  Happily, the effects of excessive heat and fasting will pass, inshallah.

For no known reason, I have been getting dietary advice for fasting from all sorts of people with differing views. While I appreciate the concern for my health, I must point out I am not overweight! Yes, at the moment I feel I could eat a sheep, but that feeling will vanish after f'tour.

An article by an American dietician and nutritionist, Nour Zibdeh, advises many fasting patients (and observes Ramadan herself). She recommends suhoor dishes with protein, healthy fats, and fibre — as well as smoothies, fruits and water. You want to be satiated and hydrated. But, as Zibdeh notes, even the best suhoor has its limitations.

"There's no meal that will hold anyone for 16 hours. That's just basic physiology," Zibdeh explains. "After 6-8 hours, the body uses up all the glucose it obtained from a meal, and then it starts to go into its glycogen."

And after your body burns through these stores of sugar in the liver and muscles, it keeps on going.

"After 10 hours, the body even runs out from this energy reservoir, and it has to tap into the fat stores."

My stores of fat (that which hadn't melted in the heat) have been well and truly tapped into, thank you.

The "daughters of Inezgane" exonerated!

Great news today. The Court of First Instance in Inezgane has completely exonerating Sanaa and Siham, the two young women arrested for wearing dresses. The reaction around the country was one of relief. At last, people were saying, some common sense. Others pointed out that the case, which has had worldwide attention, should never have happened in the first place.

The highly anticipated trial of the  "Inezgane Two" was held on July 6 and the verdict delivered on 13 July.  The two young women. Sanaa and Siham, had been arrested in June after being harassed in the souk of Inezgane by a crowd harrassing them over what they saw as their inappropriate attire.

The case of Inezgane Two became the symbol of the defence of individual liberties. Many support sit-ins were organised in the country and a strong mobilization on social networks around a hashtag: #mettre_une_robe_nest_pas_un_crime. It became a national talking point throughout Ramadan.

Defence Attorney Houcine Bekkar Sbai was jubilant. “This is a victory not only for these two women but for all members of civil society who mobilised in their support.”

Fouzia Assouli, head of the LDDF women’s rights organisation, was also upbeat. “This acquittal is positive and shows that wearing this type of clothing (a dress) is not a crime,” Assouli she said.

The prosecutor, realising he did not have a case, called for dismissal on procedural grounds, but the magistrate's decision confirms that a person's clothing can not be the cause of a conviction.

D.A. Houcine Bekkar Sbai made the point that this was not the end of the affair. "The next step is to prosecute those who harassed and attacked Sanaa and Siham. We have already laid a complaint."

Hindi Zahra, Khansa Batma, Don Bigg and H-Kayne headline Timitar

With Ramadan almost over, people are looking beyond to upcoming events. Top of the list is the Agadir Timitar Festival 2015 . For those not heading to the beach it is an opportunity for festival goers to enjoy a unique experience in this beautiful Souss region of Southern Morocco.

The 12th edition of the festival will be held held in Agadir from 22 to 25 July. The festival has a track record of pulling huge crowds to its program of world music, with more than 120,000 spectators in 2014 and an increasing interest on the part of artists from all backgrounds. However, most importantly, Timitar pays tribute the Amazigh culture.

Hindi Zahra

The headliner of this 12 th edition is the Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra who gave a knockout performance at the Essaouira festival in May. Other performers will include Khansa Batma,  two major figures of Moroccan rap, Don Bigg and H-Kayne and the rock band Mazagan.

The Chaabi fans will be pleased with the inclusion of Algerian rai star, Reda Taliani.

The festival, which has three stages, is above all a place for Amazigh artists. Among them Aït Laati, Inerzaf Bizenkad, actor and singer Brahim Asli and the poets of Imdyazen.

How the other half live

Ramadan in the summer is not always easy. Set aside the heat and you are still faced with decisions about where to have f''tour.  Friends and family all issue invitations and there is pressure on to repay the hospitality.

There is an alternative to which you can invite everyone.  Increasingly a lot of Moroccans are tempted by "Ramadan Parties", outside their own four walls and the family cocoon.

Eating out means no worry about cooking or cleaning up and how tempting is the notion of a shaded terrace overlooking the sea while savouring dishes that are a change from the traditional offerings.

According to the PR handouts, on offer now is f'tour with a "dose of originality and a new atmosphere". The change isn't dramatic yet, but is certainly having an impact with f'tour offers in hotels, restaurants and cafés multiplying, especially in large cities. Young couples from the upper middle class now meet friends or family for a f'tour outside - Le f'tour sur l'herbe.

"Habits have changed. Companies and individuals have new ways of breaking the fast, especially after the first week of Ramadan," says Habiba Benjelloun, business manager at the Kasai Japanese restaurant, located at Anfa Place Mall in Casa. Open since last September, it offers a buffet f'tour at 39o Dirhams per person. The menu has been concocted by chef Rob Shipman and combines Asian flavours - shrimp bisque, spring rolls, chicken yakitori, tempura kakiage or salmon tataki ) and Moroccan traditional fare  (harira, chebbakia, briouates, batbout chicken and zaalouk).

As usual, cafés have their own offers. The Paul chain, has "Ftours Ramadan" in Casablanca and Rabat for 280 Dirham per person. Scala in Casablanca has an Iftar buffet at 310 Dirham per person., Or Rabat Grand Comptoir with f'tour for 220 Dirham. If you want a nautical flavour then the dhow-style boat moored in the cornice of the Bouregreg offers f'tour for 140 Dirhams

If you have the money and are in Marrakech The Pearl Marrakech is offering a "Spa & F'tour" formula for 850 Dirham per person which includes a gym access, jacuzzi, pool, steam room, and a scrub of 45 minutes followed by a 30 minutes massage, all before or after ftour.

And, if you are in a hurry, La Table du Marché sells f'tour box takeaway in the shops at Marrakech and Casablanca airports.

And in Fez? Well, there are plenty of places offering special f'tour deals.

Another trend is to spend a weekend away from home, changing the routine of Ramadan, without having to look after the f'tour or children,  in a pleasant setting with pool and spa. Will it catch on? Lahcen Zelmat, from the  Palm Plaza in Marrakech thinks so. "Over time, Moroccans will change their habits as they have already done for Eid Al Adha and celebrate more and more away from home" he says.

So there is plenty of choice. Personally, I would rather have f'tour with friends and help wash the dishes.

Staying cool in the High Atlas

It's an old photograph from a collection by Philippe Lafond from back in the 1980s - but, on a hot day in Fez it was cooling just to look at.

Another of Hamid's moderately funny jokes...

Hassan el-Habib was a very famous and learned Islamic scholar who received invitations to speak across the country. His mosque provided him with a limousine and a chauffeur.

Hassan el-Habib and his chauffeur, Faisal, visited various cities on his lecture circuit and the young Faisal, always sat at the back of the lecture halls and listened intently to every word Hassan el-Habib spoke.

One evening Hassan el-Habib said to his driver, "Faisal, I’m tired and you heard this talk of mine many times, I wonder if you can give the lecture tonight instead of me."

Faisal looked perplexed, but Hassan el-Habib insisted. “Look, the talk is standard and you've heard it a hundred times. You give the talk and I'll rest at the back of the room.”

Eventually Faisal agreed. So he dressed in Hassan el-Habib's clothes and allowed himself to be ushered to the podium.

For his part, Hassan el-Habib, dressed as the chauffeur, sat at the back of the room. The lecture proceeded well and Hassan was impressed with how well the Faisal delivered it.

At the end of the lecture, another distinguished and well known scholar named Dr. Talb said that he would like to ask a question.

The real Hassan el-Habib recognised the scholar and knew that Faisal's lack of knowledge would be exposed – and it would appear as if Hassan el-Habib was unable to answer the question correctly!

Dr. Talb then proceeded, as a way of showing his own erudition, to ask a complex and convoluted question on Islamic law. There was no way Faisal would know the answer.

After a short pause, the chauffeur smiled and said, "Dr. Talb, You are one of the most famous Islamic scholars so I cannot understand how you can ask such a simple question. In fact, to show you how easy it is, I am going to ask my chauffeur to answer it for me.”  and with that invited the real Hassan el-Habib on stage to answer.

Saha F'tourkoum!

See Ibn's Ramadan Dairy

Please feel free to contribute your Ramadan stories, thoughts, observations and photographs. You can contact me via The View from Fez contact page. Just put "Ibn's Diary" in the subject line - Shukran!

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