Moroccan Prayer Beads

Commonly clutched in the weathered hands of the older population of Morocco, the Tasbih (pictured) is the highly significant beaded prayer string of the Muslim population. According to the Prophet, these enable all that follow the Islamic religion to pray, give thanks to Allah and acquire a heavenly place in the after life equally, regardless of wealth or status.

Consisting of 99 equally sized beads plus one extra larger bead (‘tassel’) that connects the loop together, followers of the religion, while in prayer, pass the beads through their fingers repeating the mantra Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah), Alhamduillah (Praise be to Allah) and Allahuakbar (Allah is the Greatest) 33 times and a further Allahuakbar on the final 100th  slightly larger connecting bead which concludes the prayer.

Found all around the Marrakshi medina’s shops and riads from the boutique souks to the makeshift salesmen selling their wonderfully diverse possessions on the side of the road, the Tasbih is typically made of inexpensive wood or different stones allows all Muslims access to this right of passage. Some however are lavishly carved from ivory, pearls and tortoiseshell with associated spiraling costs, but more seen in the wealthier Gulf countries.

Physically present less so these days however, the Tasbih is being replaced by the 3 digits on each right handed finger of the increasingly westernised Moroccan youth, which are used instead to keep count of these 100 holy utterances. The respect and understanding of the ritual however, as with the majority of Islamic practices, is still highly regarded and truly cherished by all that follow the religion.

Passionately informed from the worldly managers of the riads of Marrakech-riad, The Tasbih pictured, although not having the correct number of beads, spells out the word Allah in classical Arabic, which always seems to bring a moment of tranquility and energy for those who encounter this name.

Steeped in culture, tradition and generous personalities, Marrakech offers visitors a deep learning and wonderfully welcoming experience shared by the beautifully tranquil and relaxing riads of this great city.

The Islamic calender also has 12 months like the Gregorian, however whereas the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar (i.e. based on the earth’s orbit of the sun) the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This means that the calendar does not correspond directly to the seasons in the same way that the western calendar does, although it is of either the same length per year or one day less so it is fairly similar. The month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is a considered the holiest of months in Islam as it was during this month that Qu’ran was revealed to Muhammed, therefore the month is a time of special observance for Muslims as they fast as it is seen as a way to burn away sins. The fast includes refraining from eating or drinking whilst the sun is in the sky, not smoking and forgoing sexual activity during daylight hours. This means that during the day it can seem bizarre when observing cafés in Marrakech and only seeing tourists inside them, however Ramadan also means that during the evenings once the sun goes down the city takes on an almost party like atmosphere as people rejoice in finally being able to get some food and drink. It also means that for an hour between 7-8pm virtually everything is shut as families return to their homes in anticipation of breaking the fast, this making it quite hard on occasion to find anyone to ask for directions or a shop where one can buy water during that time period. However it does mean that when people return from breaking their fast they are generally in an exceptionally cheery mood, lending the city a very pleasant atmosphere.

This picture is of a meal made by our very own staff members at our Riad Cinnamon in anticipation of breaking their fast. This is in many ways a typical meal for someone living in Marrakech and about to enjoy finally breaking their fast at the end of a long day, as the fast starts at 4am and normally finishes around 7:30. The observers of the fast know that they can begin to eat when the muhaddin starts the evening call to prayer. All these things lend a magical air to Marrakech during Ramadan and there is no better time of year to visit this city in order to enjoy this wonderful time of year. Our Riads are wonderfully placed within Marrakech’s historic medina allowing you to take full advantage of all the city has to offer. Book a room today so you too can share in this wonderful experience.

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Due to scruples contained within Islamic texts it is forbidden to depict living creatures such as humans or animals. This has not however stopped the Islamic world from developing its own very distinctive and beautiful forms of art, indeed many of the forms and shapes expressed within the realms of Islamic art certainly have benefited from these cultural directives. One has simply to look at any mosque found anywhere in the world to appreciate the beauty that can be found in Islamic calligraphy and tessellation. Marrakech is one such place where these sights can be found in abundance and great variation, within the Medina. Any number of the great landmarks that are to be found within the Medina can be seen to display such magnificent pieces.


A real Moroccon experience can be greatly enriched by taking in such wonders, which are to be found all over the old town. Luckily this is all within short walking distance of our wonderful Riad Cinnamon

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For a window into Islamic culture in the Mahgreb and the religious institutions that greatly influenced its development. One can do a lot worse than to visit the Ben Youssef Madrassa. Originally founded during the 14th Century during the Marinid Period by Sultan Abu al-Hassan, the building was first brought to great prominence by its reconstruction and overhaul from 1564-65 by the Sultan Abdul al- Hassan.
Since that point it was the largest Madrassa in the whole of Morocco, bringing the city great prestige and cultural influence. The Ben Youssef was no ordinary school however, it was more akin to a self contained educational community. With 132 rooms and hundreds of students living and learning within its magnificent walls. This combined with its location in the Medina in the historic old town, just a few minutes walk from the Central square Djemaa el Fna makes it one of Marrakech’s primary cultural destinations. Once you enter the building you immediately see why it is such a famous place in the Islamic world. The architecture and decoration proudly displays many of the facets and aspects of Islamic building and design that has made them so renowned for their beauty and aesthetic appeal. Inside the Madrassa is a myriad of tesselated colours, blues and greens beautifully contrasting with browns and white. The courtyard which is adjacent to the prayer room is truly a beautiful place one in which it is very difficult to not have a feeling of great tranquillity even in the famed Moroccan heat. One can also not fail to notice the intricate inscriptions which abound all over the complex. It is not merely the incredible shaped which these inscriptions take but the incredible detail which the inscriptions take, one can scarcely fail to be amazed by the delicacy and fantastical patterns in the form of the writing . It is however not merely your average tourists who have come to appreciate the wonders of this place but indeed it has become a favoured place to visit for passing royals as in recent years the Madrassa has been visited both by the King and Queen of the Netherlands and the Queen of Spain, surely a ringing endorsement from European royalty.  All these things coupled with the Madrassa’s prime location and relative ease of access make it a must for any culture or history buffs visiting Marrakech.

Opening Times: Every day from 9h30 to 18pm
Entrance fee: 50 dh for the Adult and 30 dh for children
You can purchase a joint ticket to visit both the Medersa and the Musee De Marrakech

Our Riad Cinnamon  is located an easy 5 minutes stroll away meaning that a stay with us leaves you fully capable of taking full advantages of such a fantastic base in the heart of Marrakech’s historical and cultural heart and one the undoubted advantages of staying in such a fantastic location. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the markets, soak in the vibrant culture of the surrounding museums and historic sites, then retreat to the luxury of  Riad Cinnamon before once more plunging back into the immersive experience that is Marrakech old town. Make a booking today.

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