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Giving alms to the poor in Marrakech

Almsgiving, or Zakāt, is a religious rite which, in general, involves giving some of your material wealth to the poor and needy. Almsgiving is one of the Pillars of Islam. It is also important in most other religions too and giving to the poor or to a charity is of course something regarded as a worthy thing to do whether you are religious or not…

After wondering around some of the back street riads (houses converted into guest houses) on my first day in Marrakech I was invited into a mosque. I was a little lost at this point I have to admit, something which happens to most people who visit Morocco’s capital city Marrakech. I’d been exploring the back streets and derbs in the Bab Dooukkala and Dar el-Bacha areas of the Medina – it was 42 degrees and I was glad to get a little shade!

It was Friday and most people were busy praying, there were quite a few disabled people around the courtyard, in their unusual looking wheelchairs – well unsual in that they have three wheels and a steering wheel… I think it was the Sidi ben Slimane Zawiya mosque, but I’m not 100% sure to be honest.

As I left through a side entrance I came upon a line of women and children sitting in the alley way leading into the mosque. This was an unexpected sight, but all quickly became clear when a man arrived on a motorcycle. The women and children were waiting in line for a hand out from the mosque. The man went along the line and handed out a few dirhams to each of them – it was almsgiving – and a man told me that this would be happening all over Marrakech at the same time every Friday.


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