During recent decades, the interest to religion greatly increased in Dagestan. In Soviet times people were restricted in getting knowledge about Islam because of official promotion of atheism but after the collapse of the USSR the ban on religious education was lifted. Educational facilities were established everywhere –both elementary schools (madrasas and maktabs) and universities. Being established at mosques or Islamic universities madrasas are religious schools where every person of any age can receive education. Not only religious subjects – reading and interpretation of the Koran, performing prayers, hadiths (records of the life and words of the prophet Muhammad) - but secular disciplines are studied there as well. Education in such schools is always separate- for men and women. Students of these schools are called mutahallims and young girls are usually called mutahallimkas. There are several types of female madrasas in Dagestan. Some of them work as evening studies for grown-ups. Other ones organize lessons for children on weekends and summer vacations. Special madrasas accept girls after they have finished secular schools. Girls are taught here for one or few years depending on programs. Following strict rules is the hallmark of these madrasas. Spiritual and moral development of women is of great importance in religious schools. A woman should be modest and obedient at the behest of the Most High. As it follows from Islam, the strive for knowledge is one of duties of every believer. My photo essay is dedicated to Muslim women of Dagestan, to their pursuit of data on the religion and their desire to share the information with others.



Madina Gadjieva

Gadjieva Madina, a documentary and portrait photographer, was born in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan in 1989. She was born and lives in Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan. From 2019 to 2021 she studied at the School of Modern Photography “Docdocdoc”. In her projects, she seeks to show the interaction of different social groups and nationalities in her region. She now focuses on the daily lives of women in the Muslim community and traditional society.

[ CULTURAL PRACTICES ] A set of photographs that increases the understanding and appreciation of a cultural practice. It can be about festivals, religion, traditions, or contemporary cultural trends. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.

Judges for Cultural Practices
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung