Thursday, September 16, 2010

A new translation of the Koran

Lilia Kadirova introduces publisher Valery Basyrov.
The Koran in Ukrainian.
A well wisher greets Basyrov.
Basyrov is interviewed by the press outside the library.
A display of different editions of the Koran.
Yesterday (September 14, 2010), the Library hosted one of their frequent events in the Library’s Reading Room. The occasion for this event was a work-in-progress translation of the Koran into the Ukrainian language. Well-known Crimean writer and publisher, Valery Basyrov, presented the translation of the Koran he has been working on for a number of years. Though not yet finished, he has released ten advance copies and arranged this presentation in hopes of obtaining constructive feedback for the final translation.
Basyrov, whose mother is Polish and father Kazakhstan Tatar and whose grandfather was an imam, told about his impetus for the translation of the Koran into Ukrainian. Though not a speaker of Arabic which is the original language of the Koran, he has studied many translations of the Koran in Russian and Polish languages over the years and has attempted to create an accurate translation of the Koran into the Ukrainian language. At this event he gathered writers, representatives of the Mufti of Crimea, and scholars of the Koran to show them his efforts and to listen to their comments and suggestions.
Present at the event was the writer Risa Fazil who translated the Koran into Crimean Tatar, the Deputy Mufti of Crimea Eider Bey Ismailov, the chairman of the Ukrainian Information Center who expressed confidence that the translation will be welcomed by the Ukrainian community, a representative of the Crimean Tatar Educators’ Association, journalists, and others. All of them expressed their comments and good wishes for Basyrov.
Deputy Mufti of Crimea Eider said that the Ukrainian community is in need of a translation of the Koran into the Ukrainian language, that Islam is a religion for all people, regardless of nationality or language.
The Library prepared a display of different editions of the Koran in Crimean Tatar, Arabic, and Russian languages.
Though my very poor Russian and nonexistent Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian prevented me from understanding much of what was being said (this description is mostly taken from a Library press release), I nevertheless did grasp the essential reason for the event—the pending translation of the Koran into Ukrainian—and was grateful to be present at what I perceive to be a welcome expansion of an influential sacred text.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Lenin Banner

The first issue of The Lenin Banner, published in 1957 in Uzbekestan.

Alime Mennanova (left) and Nadjie Tairova on the front porch of the library, going through old issues of the paper and binding them into folders.
Nadjie Tairova
Alime Mennanova
One of the foremost missions of the Gasprinskiy Library is the collection and preservation of documents in the Crimean Tatar language and by and about Crimean Tatars in other languages. The Library has an impressive collection—over 40,000 documents including complete sets of magazines and newspapers published in the Crimean Tatar language.
When the Crimean Tatars were deported en masse by Stalin in 1944 to Uzbekistan and other distant Soviet republics, they were forbidden to use their native language. For thirteen years there were no written Crimean Tatar publications. When the ban was lifted, the first newspaper to be published in Crimean Tatar was the Lenin Bayragi, which means “Lenin Banner” in Crimean Tatar. Founded in 1957 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Lenin Bayragi was published three times a week and had an initial circulation of 23,000. It was published until 1990 when it ceased publishing for one year as Crimean Tatars flooded back to their homeland of Crimea. In 1991, the Committee to Assist the Deported Nationalities in Crimea revived the paper and began publishing it in Simferopol, Crimea. At that time, the newspaper changed names and became Yani Dunya, which means, appropriately enough, “New World” in Crimean Tatar. It continues today to be published on a weekly basis in Simferopol.
The Gasprinskiy Library collection of Crimean Tatar language documents contains a complete set of Lenin Bayragi. Full of information depicting the life of Crimean Tatars in exile in Uzbekistan, Lenin Bayragi is an important resource for the many researchers and students who use the library. Preservation of these newspapers and other vital documents is an ongoing task at the library, hindered by a lack of funding for the necessary equipment and materials. Ultimately, it is hoped that many of the library’s documents can be scanned and put into digital format for wider access for researchers and also to preserve the original documents. But for now, the newspapers are bound into folders and library patrons have access to them in the library reading room. Pictured are two of the librarians, Nadjie Tairova and Alime Mennanova, sitting out on the veranda of the Library on a hot summer day, sorting through the dusty old issues of Lenin Bayragi and binding them into the appropriate folders.