Marrakech, Morocco


Photographer: Ali Chraibi

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Throughout Islam’s long history, mosques have played a dual role as places of learning as well as worship. Today, faqihs – Muslim jurists – continue this tradition in the Marrakech region of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and other remote areas with few schools. In these places, overcrowded classes and shortages of books mean that regular teachers struggle to give students enough individual attention. Faqihs fill the gap, teaching children to read and write by making them repeat verses from the Quran and then write those verses out with black ink on small wooden boards. The classes are also an important means for teaching Muslim values. In return for teaching their children, villagers support the faqihs with gifts of food and other daily necessities. Sometimes they will also build a classroom and small residence at their local mosque for the faqihs to use.