Hafiz: Guardians of the Qur’an
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“They are so much more than a piece of fabric”: Sabiha Çimen documents the nuances of Muslim girlhood
In Turkey, many teenage Muslims are sent by their families to religious schools where they are taught to memorize the Qur’an. In these single-sex, largely residential schools which range in size from 50 students to 600, young people spend an intensive period of three or four years on their religious education.
It was on her return to such a school, with her Hasselblad camera in hand, that Sabiha Çimen discovered her artistic voice.
Titled Hafiz: Guardians of the Qur’an, Çimen’s ongoing project—and her most significant to date— captures students in attendance at several girls-only Qur’an schools throughout Turkey, weaving its emotional narrative through collected vignettes of the daydreams, trivialities, quiet rebellions and melodramas of youth.