Eid Al-Adha: A Double-Faced Edifice in Moroccan Society.

By Oussama Benayad;

The globalization which Morocco has undergone during the last two decades has had inordinate influence on many realms. Morocco’s economy is in continuous growth ever since, if not before, the concept of affordable housing started to ingrain itself in Moroccan households, together with that of the supermarket: The gate towards an illusory shift in one’s social class.

According to iculturelink, between 2007 and 2008, “A rise in consumption helped the economy grow an annual 7 percent in the first quarter, compared with 3 percent in the year-earlier period.”

This “new” consumerism has continued to thread its way into the households of Moroccan families, using media as a shortcut to the mindset of the Moroccan citizen. Thus, a whole new lifestyle surely has to be brought with this change.

The people living in big, crowded cities such as Casablanca are affected by this wave more than another living in a relatively small town; as according to Consumerism and the Consumer Society by Neva Goodwin, Julie A. Nelson, Frank Ackerman and Thomas Weisskopf, “consumption activities most directly address living standard (or lifestyle) goals, which have to do with satisfying basic needs and getting pleasure through the use of goods and services.” Thus, the more developed the place one lives in, the more needs one has.

Today, in 2017, as Eid Al Adha approaches, “consumer” is the label bestowed upon the citizen who is to be targeted, chased, and caught up in a network of economic relations. Grave as yet, two ideologies become subsequently involved in this event: Islam as a religious ideology and consumerism as a cultural one.

 The shift from a religious practice to a cultural ideology – subordination of the individual.

Eid Al Adha is a practice deeply-rooted in Moroccan societal practices due to its religious – Islamic — background , and its significance lies dormant within the magnitude of its semyosis – submissiveness to Allah and expression of gratitude through the spilling of blood. This religious practice, similar to all other practices, blends with the practices of the community to beget an ultimate version that has different colors from the various practices involved.

Similarly, Eid Al Adha has positively thrived, going from being a religious “practice” to becoming an annual “social field” that embodies an opportunity to make use of the cultural ideology previously contributing to the construction of the community’s individuals.

As a religious practice, the sacrifice of a sheep on the day of the feast is “Sunnah Mukadah” – that is, something which is to take place as a ritual that was previously carried out by the Prophet himself. However, it is not to be done in case the individual or family cannot afford to buy a sheep, or in case buying it would cause subsequent pecuniary issues. However, the way whereby the practice has evolved into becoming a cultural ideology has made it necessary for one to buy a sheep in order for everybody to be satisfied.

The event, thus, grows to attract parts which can benefit from the shift the practice has taken, especially in a society of nascent-consumerism.

There has taken place a huge change in the previous two decades, which is the introduction of an “affordable sheep”. As if purchasing a cell phone, all types of sheep at all prices are now available in near-by supermarkets.

Thus the spirit of the practice faltered as the latter was altered from a religious one to an event during which profit-seeking entities could persuade the average consumer to purchase a product [a sheep] the person may not have been able to buy otherwise. In other words, conspicuous consumption was realized.

The individual becomes subordinated to the new face of the practice, being no longer religious as much as it is social and class-related.

Long-term subjugation:

The issues at stake remain in the sly until loan companies become involved. Finding a sheep at the near-by supermarket is not sufficient.

Loan companies start to advertise for “special loans interest free” as soon as the day of sacrifice approaches, persuading the citizen to purchase a sheep the way one may purchase a car, for the purpose of satisfying an illusory need – that of consuming – more than taking part in a religious ritual.

In an article by Maghrass, “Head of Bank Al-Maghrib emphasized on many an occasion the non-existence of any interest-free loan.” That is, the interest still exists, yet may not be as conspicuous as in normal loans. “The fee paid for the compulsory procedures amount to the interest,” Informs the same source.

On the other hand, Islamic experts contend that an “Udhia” [the animal to be sacrificed] bought through loans is not acceptable. Thus, the shift in the practice has rendered it a double-faced edifice, putting forward the religious connotation, while containing underneath its layers a whole philosophy of business before which the individual stands perplexed.

Thus a long period after Eid Al-Adha, the individual comes to realize that they are still paying for what has long passed, something which serves well to explain the way whereby the practice has been globalized, and turned into a tool of profit that attracts joy-seeking  and, on the other hand, profit-seeking individuals.

This way, it becomes hard to draw the dichotomy that separates the practice as a religious one from any other event on which commercial entities compete.

 

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