We are about a week into Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. It is a time of extra prayer and charity, a time Kabira described to me as a test of one's dedication to the faith.
Kabira and the rest of my Moroccan family have been so good to me these past two years. Latest example: They insist I eat lftr ~ the meal breaking the fast ~ with them every evening. I know they can ill afford another mouth to feed, and there's an uproar any time I try to contribute anything more than a few dates. They've never asked me for a single thing, other than I spend time with them.
The other day, Kabira was salivating over the idea of having a pasta machine to lighten the load of making chebekia for the hanut. Chebekia, a sticky-sweet pastry drizzled with honey and sesame seeds, is a traditional part of the Moroccan lftr. Kabira has been making giant piles of it to sell at her shop ~ but the work of rolling and cutting the dough requires several people, and she's been hiring neighborhood girls to help her ~ thus eating away any potential profit.
Today, I took her shopping, and we came home with the machine. It felt so good to give something back to this family that has given me so much that I almost feel guilty ~ surely I did this more for myself than for Kabira.
More on Ramadan.
Moroccans are Muslim by birth and are not only morally but also legally required to fast. PRI's The World had an interesting piece on Moroccans who are lobbying against laws prohibiting them from consuming food in public during Ramadan, whether they consider themselves believers or not.
Additionally, the "Inside Islam" series, produced by Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders, has a wealth of downloadable podcasts offering a better understanding of Ramadan and of Islam in general.