Africa is one of the largest homes to Muslims because many of them live in Africa. Islam means submission and peace and Muslims live a peaceful life by submitting to Allah. Hollins (64) argues that a Muslim is any person following Islamic laws. According to Islam traditions, Allah sent angel Gabriel to reveal His word to Mohammed hence becoming the messenger of Allah.
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The Qur’an is a holy book with Allah’s revelations and teachings that dictates the core beliefs and cultures of the Islamic community. According to Center for Health Disparities, the Islam faith is among monotheistic religions such as Judaism and Christianity (2).
The objective of this paper is to understand Islam as a religion, the way it affects its followers and the way in which its followers view the world in general. Morocco is an Arab country whose main religion is Islam. The laws of the country are set based on the religion that is also used to govern spiritual, social, and political aspects as Mernissi points out (3).
Morocco is derived from a word in Arabic language “al-maghrib-al-asqsa” that means far west. McGuiness argues that the value systems, beliefs and practices of Moroccans are culturally assimilated in Arab and Berber Muslim traditions (494). In addition, the history of Islam in Morocco started in the desert oases of Arabia in the 17th century A.D. Christians and Jews first inhabited the region. The Quran and Prophet Mohammed Teachings dictate the Muslim culture and practices.
Islamic Traditions and Cultures
The traditions and practices of the Muslim culture are enshrined in the Holy Qur’an. Khan gives some of the forbidden practices and normal way of life. Food plays a vital role and meaning in the Islam religious life because eating is one way of worshipping Allah (108). There are two types of foods. The Halal, which is food that is accepted before Allah and Haram, the food prohibited by the Muslim faith. Some of the other things that are prohibited by the Qur’an include:
- charging interests on loans and using usury is prohibited
- The Qur’an forbids a husband from taking dower from his wife in cases of a divorce. Dower is a gift that a wife gets with no conditions attached.
- Alcohol, nicotine, drugs and other by-products from these elements are not allowed.
- Pork and its by-products are prohibited.
- Muslims women are not supposed to wear tight clothes that portray their skin and shape. They are required to cover all parts of the body except hands. Some cover their faces with veil and it varies from country to country. Men cover their bodies from the knee to the neck with caps covering the heads.
- No one has the right to take life because life is sacred. Therefore, suicide is a serious offence before Allah
The expression of Islamic art is architecture that is depicted in the way houses, buildings and mosques are constructed. Islam is rich in theology and several spiritual practices that Muslims follow in their day-to-day walk.
A prayer plays a central part in the life a Muslim. Muslims have different types of prayers such as personal prayers that can be said anywhere and anytime and ritual prayers that are conducted in a specific manner with special words kneeling and facing ka’bab the direction of the holy city in Mecca.
Prophet Abraham built Ka’bab and it is cubical in shape. The ritual prayers are said 5 times in a day, in the morning, midday, mid afternoon, sunset and before going to bed. The prayers are offered in mosques on Friday and only men are allowed to attend the prayers. There are no chairs in the mosques and worshippers kneel down during their services, shoes are not allowed, as it is a holy place. Before any ritual, they have to wash their faces, hands and feet before approaching Allah.
In 622 C E, Prophet Mohammed saved himself from his enemies who were after his life by running and hiding in the holy city of Medina. Mecca is a central part of a Muslim life and they go to pay homage to the place that is closely related to the life of their prophet. The Qur’an encourages its followers to participate in the annual pilgrimage visit.
Fasting is a very important practice that Muslims perform once a month annually during the month of Ramadan that starts after the full moon. During Ramadhan, the faithful abstain from taking food and drinks from dawn to dusk.
The Quran encourages Muslims to be responsible and kind to the less fortunate people in the society and there is a mandatory contribution of zakat by Muslim faithful to be taken to the less fortunate people in the society. Islam as a religion has a holistic approach to life with major implications to men and women in Morocco.
The Islamic law transcends the modern system of law as it is a way of life and therefore sacred. Mernessi believes that Islamic law (sharia) denies people an opportunity to alter the bad laws as it will be questioning Allah’s wisdom. For instance, changing personal law is errant behavior (dalala) and the punishment of dalala is hell (2).
How religion affects human health or health care system.
The Center for Health Disparities believes that Muslim health practices vary depending on their ethnicity rather than religion (3). Culture shapes and promotes how people behave and it can affect either someone’s health positively or negatively.
For instance, Islamic laws encourage the male to have more than one sexual partner while it is unlawful for females to have more than one partner and this places the woman prone and be infected with sexually transmitted diseases such HIV/AIDs. Men have a greater access to health more than the women do. Sen indicates that the failure to give women attention and care when sick results to fewer women surviving, than men who are given food, social and medical attention (61).
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How religion affects roles in men and women
Moroccan laws and culture are derived from the Qur’an and it clearly states the rights and roles of women and men in the society and their various positions. Sura states “Allah charges you on providing for your children; to the male the equivalent of two female” (Sen 61). This means what a man has is double of what a woman has. Males should provide financial support and care.
In Sura 4:34, “Men are in charge of women, Allah made one of them to be better than the other and good women are obedient” (Sen 61) this puts the men to be superior of women and the men should be masters over women.
Prophet Mohammed, who is a superior being and a role model, believes women are less intelligent and not so, religious and a country that elects a woman ruler is doomed to fail. Male leaders are encouraged to take senior positions in the organizations. Women as the lesser being are treated like slaves and cleanliness, housework is a woman duty. Moroccan labor laws have many restrictions on employment applying to children and women below the age of 16 and this discourages the women folk as they have also to do the house chores fully.
How religion affects Educational system
Islam plays a role in the development of the curriculum and students choice in selecting subjects. Westerlund and Rosander argue that schools are putting more emphasis in training languages and History, Mathematics and Geography (8).
Women in Morocco are supposed to be passive in accepting the status quo. Many educated Moroccan women have started fighting for their rights by established several women’s rights movements to try to improve their situation.
For instance, in the urban areas women movements are working to change some articles in the law, they want to reduce the gap between sharia and democracy, in terms of freedom of speech, thoughts and movement, however in Islamic there is never room for freedom. The personal law called mudawwanah, which is based on Islamic Sharia, forms the biggest challenge in the women’s struggle towards equality.
Education disrupts the status quo of Islamic traditions as women are perceived to be less intelligent and they should depend entirely to the male, but education empowers women and they make them at par socially and professionally with their male counterparts which challenges the traditions. According to Rassam (171) says insubordination of women in public sphere and being forced in their cocoons at home has reduced women in public domain
How religion affects marriage, pregnancy, and birth giving
Sura 4:3 states “Muslims are encouraged to marry more than one wife so long as the women are nice” (Sen 61). In Islamic laws, women are seen as sex objects and dangerous seducers. The Qur’an says women can change the destiny of a man by distracting him from worshipping Allah. Marriage is the most important event for a Moroccan woman in her lifetime, but despite how a woman views the event, she does not take part and is very absent in preparation of the marriage and wedding, she is a passive party.
Women in Morocco get married at a tender age of 14-16 years of age, the bride does not choose the suitor and it is the work of the father, guardian or any male relative. As Qur’an commands in Sura 4:25 “wed them by permission of the folks” Mernissi (4). Mernissi believes in Moroccan marriage is not an agreement between the couple but between the two men (suitor and father) who are in control of the marriage arrangements.
The country laws states that women are an inferior being and they cannot make crucial decisions in their marriages and are a possession of the male, with no freedom to act on their own.
Virginity is a virtue in the Moroccan law when getting married. If a bride is not a virgin, the groom is allowed to leave her and sometimes, the bride wealth can be slashed into half, and the code of “Honor and Shame” is so much emphasized on women. Birth control is prohibited in the Muslim culture and family planning in form of birth control is discouraged. When a Muslim woman gives birth, the parents take the placenta and buried according to the Muslim burial rituals.
Women must be obedient to their husbands and the husbands can marry as many wives as he feels. He has overall control over his wife; for instance if the wife leaves her matrimonial home the man has a right to forcefully bring the wife back and fidelity is required from women and not the man. Women have a right to sexual attention in marriage but cannot abstain or refuse the husband when he wants sex unless she is menstruating.
Islam religion believes only Allah should be worshipped and Mohammed is the only Prophet of Allah. Islamic affects the society in all spheres of life, socially, economically and politically. Quran specify that women are the lesser being and it is becoming a challenge to change the retrogressive cultures like discriminating and violence against women as it will be questioning Allah.
The Moroccan states laws restricts women and children below the age of 16 from applying for formal employment and therefore woman end up doing household chores only. Furthermore, the Islamic region allows man to marry up to four wives provided the man can provide for all of them. Finally, the religion does not allow birth control and therefore, women are forced to have as many children as the husband wants. We see that the religion is biased particularly towards women.
Center for Heath Disparities. Wellness & Recreational Centre: Muslim population. Lowa City: University of Northern Lowa, 1997.
Hollins, Susan. Religion, culture & health care: a practical handbook for use in health care environments. Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing, 2009.
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