Once again, I found myself at the city’s beloved landmark of beauty: the Kasbah des Oudaias. A Kasbah is a fortified area that once housed the ruling family, its guards and everything needed for living under attack. Nowadays, Kasbahs are still a beautiful place to live, with its traditional whitewashed and brilliant blue blue painted buildings and stunning, winding alleyways with gorgeous, lush gardens and views of either the landscape or in Oudaias case, the magnificent blue sea.
With Khadija as our tour guide, we spent the afternoon exploring the lovely Kasbah and all its splendors, including the hidden Moroccan dating game. As mentioned in my earlier post (Islam 101), dating is forbidden in the Islamic world. Premarital sex and even kissing the opposite sex is a no-no. However, with the advent of modernity and the constant throng of romance seen on the Internet, TV and Western movies, a new kind of dating in Morocco has been created: Secret Dating.
When walking through the lush gardens of the Kasbah, I was shocked and stunned to see young lovers, somewhat hidden from view, in the process of making out. Per Khadija, this is the new secret dating game that can be found throughout urban Morocco.
Here are some examples:
The lush gardens offer the perfect place for hidden romance:
Per Khadija, this is what is going on. For Muslims, dating is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in getting to know someone from the opposite sex, then technically you need to meet them in a public place with a third person present, usually a member from the family such as a brother. Thus if you are in love with someone or even just like them a lot, generally in Morocco you skip the whole dating game and go directly to marriage (of course after asking the young woman’s father for her hand).
However, for some Moroccans, this is beginning to change, especially among the young generation (like the ones seen smooching in the photo above). Dating is done completely in secret, meaning the parents have no idea, yet it always takes place in a public place such as the Kasbah or another favorite, the beach.
Here is a photo of the beach dating scene. Note the hijabs and jellabas, not your typical beach wear in a western country:
Another interesting fact Khadija told me about dating: It is only done IF there is a future of marriage ahead. You do not date just to date. Instead, you start at the end game of a relationship. You start when a man tells you that he wants to marry you. Once it is determined that you will get married, then you can start going on your secret dates. During the secret dating process, you always go to public places and never go to a private location because to do so may dishonor the woman. Normally the secret dating game goes on for about six months until an engagement. Finally, it is never acceptable in Morocco for a woman to ask a man out. It simply does not happen.
Khadija herself has been involved with a man, who she has been secretly dating for two years now and will eventually get married. Her parents do not really know about him however her friends do. She is an educated, career-driven woman yet she remains traditional at the same time and respects her religion.
Khadija told us a very interesting fact. Apparently over the last four years that CCS has been open in Morocco and had volunteers, six volunteers have met and married Moroccan men! One even met her future husband in only two weeks and neither one could speak the same language. Amazingly enough, they are still married today (and hopefully they can at least communicate now). Thus, bottom line: Love can happen anywhere, even in Morocco!
(Note: Non-Muslims can intermarry. However, a non-Muslim must convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim).
Coming up next….more posts on Morocco!