Morocco Religion: All That You Need To Know

Visiting a country is not all about sightseeing, enjoying nature, and chilling in great hotels and spas. It is also about understanding the local culture and learning as much as possible. If you are lucky to visit Morocco, the Moroccan culture is one interesting culture to discover.

Moroccan people are internationally known for being very friendly and accommodating. They can do whatever it takes to help you find your route if you are lost, give you tips and information to make your trip unforgettable, or chat and know more about you.

Being a conservative country (the constitution clearly states that Islam is the official religion for Moroccans), it is important to understand their etiquette, Islamic holidays, traditions, and local’s everyday life.

Morocco Religion

What Is Morocco Religion?

The main religion in Morocco is Islam, which is the state religion; however, freedom of religious belief is only sometimes guaranteed to all. Officially, 99% of the population is Muslim, and virtually all of those are Sunni.

Polls and surveys have found that 80–95% of its population is at least somewhat religious.

The second-largest religion in the country is Christianity, but most Christians in Morocco are foreigners. There is also a community of the Baháʼí Faith. Only a fraction of the former Jews has remained in the country, many having moved to Israel.

In Morocco, Islam was adopted very quickly in the 8th century, under the reign of the Umayyad. However, the Sunni Malekite rites of Islam won’t be practiced by the majority until another century after.

Morocco Religious Etiquette: Explained

Morocco Religious Etiquette

Disrespecting Islam is something considered very rude. The locals find disrespecting Islam extremely offensive. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about religion in Morocco.

Moroccan Muslims are very respectful of Judaism and Christianity and believe that the messages delivered by both religions are equally true.

Being a Non-Muslim means that you cannot enter some specific places, namely mosques, shrines, and saints’ koubbas. However, there’s one exception, which is Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Hassan II Mosque is an architectural landmark that dazzles the eyes. This is the case, especially when looking at the intricately mesmerizing internal decoration.

On the whole, Moroccans are tolerant and extremely hospitable. Though most people are religious, they are generally easygoing. Nonetheless, you should try not to affront people’s religious beliefs, especially those of older, more conservative people.


The standard greeting etiquette in Morocco is “Salaam Alaykum”, which means “May peace be upon you”. Some will extend the phrase and say “Salaam Alaykum wa Rahmat Allah”; the latter part translates as “…and the grace of God Almighty.” The standard answer is repeating the greeting. And don’t be surprised if someone says “Salaam”.

Moroccans usually greet everyone at the gathering. People of the same sex might shake hands or greet with their cheeks. With the opposite sex, things are a little bit different, especially with conservative women.

A woman generally greets her close friends and relatives with cheeks or a hug. Some women don’t even shake hands with men unless it’s a close relatives.

Dressing Code

Modesty is part of Moroccan religious etiquette. Morocco is relatively conservative compared to the West, with some parts more than others.

If you’re traveling in rural areas and small towns and cities, you might want to dress up modestly because most people, as you may notice, might find relative nudity offensive, disrespectful, or odd. 

We’re talking here about women, of course. This is the case, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims consider sexual arousal, which can be caused unconsciously while looking at someone attractive, to be considered to ruin the fast.

Traditional Moroccan women’s clothing differs somewhat from the morocco dress code for tourists. Moroccan girls and women traditionally wore a hijab to cover their hair and, in adulthood, a djellaba (a long, hooded robe) over their clothing outside their homes.

To give you more in-depth information, I wrote an article about Morocco’s dress code and what to wear during your trip.

What Religion Was Morocco Before Islam?

North Africa was mainly Christian, and so were the Moroccan Berbers. Maybe there were some pagan tribes around, but Christianity was the norm. Most Moroccans before Islam were Christians.

Like the rest of North Africa, Morocco was firmly in the Roman orbit (not all modern Morocco was part of the Roman empire, but parts were, and substantial parts of the remainder were client kingdoms).

And this meant that Morocco was overwhelmingly Christian by the end of classical antiquity. It remained so after the empire’s collapse but gradually converted to Islam once that religion entered the area.

What Are The Top Religions In Morocco?

To give you a bit more understanding of Morocco’s Religion. Here are the top religions in Morocco:

1. Islam

The country has a population of 34.8 million, of which 99% are Muslim, 0.9% Christian, and 0.1% Jewish. Islam was first brought to Morocco by Arabs in 680 AD.

The Muslims in Morocco are mostly natives and expatriates from different Arab countries. Because of the majority and long history, you will find Muslim customs and traditions all over Morocco.

2. Christianity

An estimated 30,000 Christians live in Morocco (0.9% of the resident population). 24,000 Roman Catholic Christians are organized in around 40 parishes belonging to the archbishopric of Rabat and Tangier. 

On 27 March 2010, the Moroccan magazine (TelQuel) stated that thousands of Moroccans had converted to Christianity. Pointing out the absence of official data, Service de presse Common Ground cites anonymous sources that stated that about 5,000 Moroccans became Christians between 2005 and 2010. 

According to different estimates, about 8,000–40,000 Moroccan Christians of Berber or Arab descent mostly converted from Islam. Other sources estimated the number of converts to the Anglican Moroccan Church of a bit more than 1,000.

A popular Christian program by Brother Rachid has led many former Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East to convert to Christianity.

3. Judaism

The number of Moroccans of the Jewish faith has fallen from almost 200,000 in 1956 (Moroccan independence) to an estimated 2500-3000 (0.1% of the resident population) in 2018.

The mass emigration of Moroccan Jews was not primarily the result of anti-Semitism. Jews and Christians in Morocco indeed had fewer rights than the Muslim majority. 

They were second-class citizens. But the main triggers for the mass emigration of Jews from Morocco were the Palestinian conflict – Jews all over the Arab world were made responsible for the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland from 1948 onwards – and the general political instability in Morocco after the end of the Second World War.

4. Baháʼí Faith 

The Baháʼí Faith originated in the 19th century and is documented as starting its missions in Morocco in 1946 while the country was still under colonial rule. A Ten-Year Crusade was initiated to spread the belief, establishing assemblies and schools in Morocco.

In the early 1960s, shortly after independence, mass arrests were made of Baháʼís, and death sentences were given to the most prominent believers, sparking international outrage.

Most estimates count the Baháʼí population in modern Morocco as between 150 and 500. However, the Association of Religion Data Archives and Wolfram Alpha estimated 32,598 Baháʼís in 2005 and 2010.

Only the religions of Islam and Judaism are recognized by the Moroccan constitution as native to the country, with all other religions being considered “foreign”.

While foreigners can generally practice their religion peacefully, citizens who practice “foreign religions” face obstacles from the government and social pressure. In particular, Shia Muslims and members of the Baháʼí Faith face discrimination from the government, as do some Christian groups.

Things To Know About Religion Before Traveling To Morocco

Morocco Religious Belief

Morocco remains an open country that loves diversity. Being an Islamic country (the constitution clearly states that Islam is the official religion for Moroccans), it is important to understand its impact on Moroccan culture, traditions, and local’s everyday life.

Ready to know more about Moroccan religious culture? Here are practical information and guidelines to help you plan your trip wisely, know what to expect, and learn more about respecting local Moroccan culture.

1. Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar follows a lunar pattern different from the western calendar, and religious celebration dates change every year. Consequently, if you plan to visit Morocco, you must check if your scheduled dates meet some religious celebrations.

Such as:

  • Ramadan

Ramadan is a month-long religious celebration held yearly in all Islamic countries, including Morocco. It is dedicated to fasting from sunrise to sunset and focusing on spiritual and religious matters. Food, drinks, tobacco, and sexual thoughts are prohibited during fasting, impacting everyday life.

In fact, before sunset, most restaurants and cafés will be closed during Ramadan, and beaches will be mostly empty as they are associated with nudity. Besides, as fasting can be a little bit tiring, Moroccans prefer staying home, praying, and resting.

Corporate schedules also adapt to Ramadan rhythm and change from a classic 8 am-6 pm with a lunch break to an 8 am-3 pm without interruption. After sunset, the streets will start reviving as Moroccans will head up to the mosque to pray Tarawih, a daily Ramadan prayer that can last for hours.

As you can imagine, Ramadan imposes a different rhythm to the Moroccan lifestyle, so you might not be able to try some restaurants, for example; however, sightseeing and shopping before sunset will still be possible.

  • Eid Al Fitr

Eid Al Fitr is a religious celebration following the last day of Ramadan. Eid Al Fitr means ‘celebration of eating. While Ramadan is all about fasting, Eid Al Fitr is all about eating and enjoying life and food pleasures.

Traditional Moroccan dishes, raisins, almonds, and pastries usually won’t leave Moroccan tables for the whole day. As Moroccans often celebrate Eid Al Fitr with relatives (visiting family is very encouraged by Islam), Moroccans often take 3 days off to rest and visit family members they haven’t seen in a long time.

During Eid Al Fitr, each family must donate to someone in need, Fatra. It can be either by giving a certain amount of money or giving a certain quantity of wheat grains like it was done back in the old days.

  • Eid Al Adha

This is a celebration that all vegans around the world hate. In Islam, each Moroccan man who is married must sacrifice a sheep once a year. And this is what Eid Al Adha is about.

The celebration lasts for a week or so, and again, as it is a family celebration, people spend most of their time in their homes eating, visiting family members, and eating. They have a sheep to finish, remember?

But the most important thing about Eid Al Adha is that it represents sharing and generosity. In fact, according to Islam, a third of the sheep meat must be donated to a family in need, and many Moroccans donate more than that.

It can be very inconvenient to visit Morocco during this period. To give you an example, before Eid Al Adha, most families (mine included) always make sure they stock their fridges with everything they will need for a week (fruits, vegetables, milk, fish, etc.), as they know all markets will be closed during that period.

2. Drinking of Alcohol

If you’re planning on visiting Morocco, and love taking alcohol, you might wonder if drinking/taking it, is legal. After all, Morocco is a Muslim country, and alcohol is prohibited in the Quran.

The answer is yes; drinking alcohol in Morocco is legal to enjoy something stronger than mint tea. However, you will need to abide by some restrictions when you’re visiting the country. Drinking alcohol in Morocco is a bit more complicated than in countries like France, Portugal or Italy.

Tourists can still drink alcohol during Ramadan, but only a few restaurants will serve it. It’s also good to know that if you’re visiting Morocco during Ramadan, most restaurants, food stalls, and stores will be closed during the day. It’s better to avoid eating and drinking (water) publically during this period.

After sunset, however, restaurants and supermarkets are often open until 1 am. So, evenings are the ideal time to stock up on food and drinks.

3. You Won’t Be Allowed in Most Mosques

Generally, many mosques in Morocco will be off-limits to those who are not Muslims. You can admire the building from the outside, but in many cases, only those of the Islamic faith will be permitted to enter.

According to Rough Guides, non-Muslims are allowed into a select few mosques, including the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

But if you’re not allowed inside, you won’t be allowed to take pictures of the inside with your camera through the doors. Graveyards are also considered sacred in Morocco and shouldn’t be walked through.

4. Be Respectful During Ramadan

Being a predominantly Islamic country, Morocco has different rules and etiquette during the holy month of Ramadan. For Muslims, this is a time of prayer, reflection, community, and fasting.

Visitors to Morocco are not expected to partake in the tradition of fasting between dawn and dusk, but it is still wise to be respectful.

During Ramadan, it’s a good idea to avoid eating and drinking outside the confines of public restaurants or your hotel, just as a courtesy to locals who are fasting. 

5. Avoid Giving Direct Compliments

Islamic religion/culture tends to encourage the value of modesty. You might mean no harm by complimenting a local in Morocco, but this can be seen as too forward and can make them uncomfortable.

If you ever want to praise someone, it’s best to be as subtle about it as possible. You’ll find that many locals won’t accept compliments, even if they’re a reflection of the truth.

You might also find that you don’t receive many compliments during your visit to Morocco. Remember, this is part of the culture.

The Different Islamic Holidays In Morocco

Morocco is considered a major Muslim country because almost 93 percent of its population is Muslim. So, Islamic religious holidays are celebrated with a wonderful sense of joy and unity.

There are also some holidays which are about something other than being happy. They are in remembrance of some of the Prophets who laid their lives for the sake of Islam and embraced Shahadat. 

All of the religious holidays are listed below, and they are also discussed in detail:

  • Eid al-Fitr: it is celebrated at the end of Ramadan (a month of fasting during daylight hours), and Muslims may perform acts of zakat (charity) on occasion, which begins after the new moon is sighted for the beginning of the month of Shawwal. The celebration begins with prayers on the morning of 1 Shawwal, breakfast, and often celebratory meals.
  • Eid al-Adha: It is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah when the pilgrimage takes place and lasts for four days. Muslims may perform an act of zakat and friendship by slaughtering a sheep and distributing the meat to family, friends, and the poor. Muslims are also encouraged to be friendly and reach out to one another during this period.
  • Eid Al Mawlid Prophet Muhammad`s Birthday: This Eid is celebrated as a devotion to the faith and the prophet. Unlike Eid al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha, there are no special prayers for this Eid. Usually, people pray for their prophet, and some events and celebrations are held in the streets, including playing religious music. There are also some shops which offer special sales on this day.
  • Ramadan: Muslims celebrated when the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by fasting from dawn to sunset during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting is a purifying experience so Muslims can gain compassion and deepen their faith in Allah. 

The act of fasting represents the condition experienced by the needy, who, although already hungry, must also fast for Ramadan. Muslims fast by denying themselves food, water, and all related sexual activity with their spouses, but people with chronic diseases or unhealthy conditions such as diabetes and children are exempt from fasting.

Travelers, and women who are menstruating or nursing a baby, are exempt from fasting but are required to fast later. A person’s observance of fasting can be for naught if religiously forbidden acts are made, such as Ghibah (backbiting others) and deceiving others.

Final Thoughts

All in all, as travelers we always research the different aspects of the country we are planning a trip to make sure we are not breaking any rules or doing some behaviors that are considered offensive.

The goal is to end up doing an amazing trip experiencing the local culture, building friendships, and also coming back home with a lot of unforgettable memories that will last for life.

That was all for today’s guide. I hope you enjoyed reading it, if you did it will be such kind of you if you help me spread the word by sharing this article.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end.

Cheers (:


Does Morocco have freedom of religion?

Yes, freedom of religion in Morocco refers to the extent to which people in Morocco can freely practice their religious beliefs. The state religion of Morocco is Islam, and the government plays an active role in determining and policing religious practice for Muslims, and disrespecting Islam in public can carry punishments in the form of fines and imprisonment.

Sunni Islam and Judaism are the only religions recognized by the Moroccan constitution as native to the country, with all other religions considered “foreign”. While foreigners can generally practice their religion peacefully, citizens who practice “foreign religions” face obstacles from the government and social pressure. 

How religious are Moroccans?

Moroccans are fairly religious. Stats show that 99% of Moroccans are Muslim, but it’s not as it seems. However, they are very fairly secular with religious traditions and values. It is common to find a bar/nightclub and a mosque on the same street.

Does Morocco allow Christianity?

Morocco has two Christian communities: foreigners who work and live in the country and Moroccans who converted from Islam to Christianity. Moroccan Christians face a grim situation, but Christian foreigners are allowed to enjoy the freedom of worship, even though they have no legal status in the eyes of the state.

What beliefs are in Morocco?

The modern beliefs, traditions, and celebrations inspired by Moroccan draw influences from early animism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (including from the Sunni, Shia, and Sufi sects).

Is Morocco a strict Muslim country?

While Morocco has recently taken down their curtains and huddled with the rest of the world, the country is still deeply rooted in laws that stem from religion and tradition. Social laws, which mostly apply to women, are stern. For example, women are not allowed to dress anyhow or be with a man who is not a relative or go out in public wearing anything that shows off a lot of skin.

Are Moroccans Sunni or Shia?

According to Pew, 99% of Muslims in Morocco are Sunni, predominantly of the Sunni Maliki madhab, or school of thought, whilst the remaining 1% adhere to other sects such as Shia, Quranism, Ibadism, etc.

Share Your Love!
Avatar photo
The Editorial Team

Optimos Travel is a travel blog to help you travel the world, and explore different lifestyles, traditions, foods, and everything in between.