Holy book

26 February 2015 | In the news

The Koran

The Koran, Koraani, translated into Finnish by Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila.

In an unprecedented project, the Koran, the holy book of Islam, is to be read on the Radio 1 channel of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) in 60 half-hour segments. Made with considerable input from the Finnish Muslim community, the series is not, however, part of YLE’s religious broadcasting, but is intended to increase people’s knowledge of the Koran and Muslim culture in general.

‘It is important that the Koran is read in its entirety, and not just select items that show that Islam is bad and violent or good and beautiful,’ says the translator, Professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila. The broadcasts are to be preceded by conversations between Professor Hämeen-Anttila and Imam Anas Hajjar, a leader of the Finnish Muslim community, exploring the religious and historical context of the day’s text. According to Hämeen-Anttila, the two men discussed ‘everything between heaven and earth’ during the recordings. Among other things they consider the role of Satan, instructions on suitable behaviour for men when in the company of women, and the Ayat an-Nur, or ‘Verse of Light’, an Arabic text found on the wall of many Muslim homes.

Islam, numbering an estimated 40,000 believers, is a minority religion in Finland, whose two official denominations are the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches. The first Muslims to come to Finland were Tatars from Russia in the 19th century; most, however, arrived after 1990, mainly from Africa and the Middle East.

‘The programme is an important step in understanding one another. It is an attempt to tell the story of The Koran and what it contains,’ says Imam Hajjar.

The series begins on 7 March.