Twice a week a group of Turkish imams gather in a small classroom not far from Istanbul’s Golden Horn. Their goal is to get in tune.
Istanbul’s Muftiate, or Council of Religious Affairs, has received complaints of late about imams who melodically recite verses of the Koran in an off-key manner. In response, muftiate officials have started offering voice lessons to any imam who wants them. Although strictly voluntary, those who have been identified as being “unable to satisfy his community” are strongly urged to attend, said Recai Albayrak, head of the of the district mufiate for the Beyoglu section of Istanbul.
The voice lessons are led by Firkret Yasin a graduate from the Classical Folk Program at Haliç University who also moonlights in a rock band that performs around istanbul. Yasin guides the group of 20 imams through warm-ups, scales and popular Turkish folk songs. He then shows how imams can use the techniques when reciting Koranic verses.
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Monique Jaques is a freelance photojournalist working in Turkey and Afghanistan.