Sabiha Cimen spent three years photographing Girl Quran Schools in five cities in Turkey, a subject that she knows very well since she attended the same schools when she was a teenager with her twin sister. After becoming a photographer, she returned to those schools to work on her project that has now become the subject for her first book.
The title Hafiz refers to one who has memorized all 604 pages of the Holy Quran. Historically the task of memorization began during the time of Muhammad. The individual process can take up to four years and is usually done by girls ranging in age from eight to nineteen. Turkey has thousands of Quran schools.
This world has never been captured with so much intimacy before, as only Sabiha can do, because she is part of this culture. Every photo reveals a different aspect and gives us a deeper understanding of the daily life and the dreams of these girls.
About the Author
Sabiha Çimen was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1986. She is a self-taught photographer, focusing on women, Islamic culture, portraiture and still life.
Çimen graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University with an undergraduate degree in International Trade and Finance, and a Masters degree in Cultural Studies.
Her Master’s thesis on subaltern studies, which includes her photo story titled “Turkey as a Simulated Country,” was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2019.
W.Eugene Smith Fund recipient 2020.
Canon Female Photojournalist Grant – 2020.
World Press Photo, Long-Term Projects, 2nd prize – 2020.
PH Museum, Women Photographers Grant, 3rd prize – 2018
Gomma Grant, Honorable Mention – 2019.
World Press Photo Foundation Joop Swart Masterclass – 2018
Çimen became a Magnum Nominee member in 2020.