It has been a few weeks since our return from Morocco and yet it feels like only yesterday that I was being woken up by the early morning call to prayers and the sounds of roosters and mules in the mountains. Although I would get annoyed by them sometimes, I found it very special and meaningful that these call to prayers, and by extension, their religion brought about increased solidarity among the Moroccans.
I’m grateful that Canada is a multi-faith country and I appreciate that everyone has the freedom to practise whatever beliefs or non-beliefs they choose. However, I also appreciate the constant reminders of faith in Morocco that seemed to be everywhere you go. No matter where we went in Morocco, the call to prayers occurred at the same times, followed by the sight of many believers of all ages making their way to the nearby mosques. I also find it beautiful that religion is integrated into their language. For example, “Inshallah” means “God willing”, which usually follows conversations concerning something that is to happen in the future, “alhamdulillah” means “praise to God”, which is often used in greetings and in sharing good news, and “Bismillah” means “in the name of God”, which we often said before eating. People are constantly reminded of their faith in everything they do. This helps the Muslim Moroccans keep each other accountable for their faiths and to always be mindful of God’s presence in their lives.
In Canada, one could argue that there are similar references to a god in the English expressions used here. For example, there’s “oh my god”, which is used when someone is shocked or surprised either in a good or bad way. “Thank god” is used to express relief, and we say “I swear to god” to stress the truth behind what has been said or promised. Although my guess is that they’re of religious (Christian) origin, it seems as though the religious connotation has been sucked away from these phrases. In fact, they’re often areas of contention; some Christians believe that using such expressions carelessly, without regard for the religious connotations, is a form of transgression against the third of Ten Commandments to never use the Lord’s name in vain. It was interesting to realize that unlike the expressions tinged with religious undertones in a Muslim country like Morocco, those used in a multi-faith country like Canada are not delivered nor received in the same way.