‘La ilaha illa Allah. Muhammudu rasulu Allah.’ ‘There is nothing godly except God. Muhammad is his prophet.’ These words form the credo, the shahada - the first and most important of the five pillars or obligations of Islam, the religion of Morocco. The word ‘Islam’ literally means ‘submission to God’s will’. Five times daily, a Muslim should sit down in prayer and recite the shahada. Prior to the praying, the face, feet and arms are washed. The ritual of prayer, the salat, is the second pillar. At the times of the salat, a call is heard from the minaret. The other three obligations or pillars of Islam are: to give alms to the poor, or zakat, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, or sawm, and the haj, the pilgrimage to Mekka. These five pillars or obligations are prescribed in the Quran, the Holy Scripture of Islam that was received in the 7th century by the prophet Muhammad, or Mohammed. It is hard to witness Islam in Morocco. Non-believers are welcome in hardly any mosque in Morocco. The Moussems and other religious festivals are more accessible, although even here the most important rituals are screened off.
Muslim holy men: An important element in religious life in Morocco is the veneration of the over three thousand saints that have lived in the country, the marabouts and the tombs containing their bodies. In particular in the countryside, the veneration of the marabouts seems to be deeper rooted than the study of the Quran. Numerous characteristics are imputed to them, such as working miracles and healing the sick. The magical power of the marabout also helps to undo witchcraft. The site of a marabout is also the place where prayers are said for a good harvest – a place where the power of God, the baraka or life force, is present in concentrated form. The most common shape of a marabout is the qubba, a cube-shaped building with a white conical cupola as its roof. Each marabout has its own moussem, its religious annual festival, during which, believers come to pray, sacrifice, sing, dance and eat.