Russische Föderation: Valeria Porokhova

With my work, I want to inspire not only Muslims, but also make non-Muslim Russians read and think about the Koran.

— Valeria Porokhova

Valeria Porokhova (born 1940) graduated from Moscow State Pedagogical Institute of Foreign Languages and worked as a lecturer for 18 years. She now works at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. Valeria has made a successful translation of the Koran into Russian. The edition, published in 1995, was the first to be available in Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus.

In January 2005, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, the audience in the huge City Hall–that has gathered to discuss the issues of inter-religious dialog–gets up to welcome an elegant lady: Valeria Porokhova, the author of the Russian translation and commentaries to the Holy Koran. Back in 1985, married to a Syrian Muslim, Valeria moved to Damascus, where she embraced Islam and embarked on a ten-year project of translating the Holy Koran. When the translation was completed, in 1995, she sent it to the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy in Cairo, Egypt. It went through a most meticulous scrutinization process and was eventually approved for publication. Since then, hundreds of thousands of copies have been distributed throughout the former Soviet Union, particularly in the republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus. This is particularly significant since the Muslims there had no access to a Russian translation and commentary to the Koran in Soviet times and, as a rule, they neither speak nor read Arabic. Upon her return to Russia in 1997, Valeria began to hold public conferences on the Koran and on Islam in general. In her frequent appearances on TV and radio programs, she emphasizes the non-violent nature of Islam and aims at creating a better understanding of this religion among the non-Muslim population of the former Soviet Union. After more than 70 years of Communist rule, people generally have little understanding of religious matters. Valeria is convinced that religious feelings are not only sacred for every believer, but are also a very powerful factor in uniting people. They can help to bring people together. Her activism to educate people about religion–Islam, in this case–can therefore be seen as an effective and valuable tool to empower people and to unmask the distorted usage of religion by many political regimes.

Rossiyskaya akadiemiya estiestviennykh nauk (Raen)