Logo Utrecht University

CfH Lectures


Nasr Abu Zayd Website

Prof. Dr. Nasr Abu Zayd was Distinguished Professor and holder of the Ibn Rushd Chair of Humanism and Islam at the University for Humanistics, Utrecht. He obtained his BA degree in Arabic Studies (1972), and later his MA (1977) and PhD degrees (1981) in Islamic Studies, with works concerning the interpretation of the Qur’an. In 1982, he joined the faculty of the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at Cairo University as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor there in 1987. In 1993, he was promoted to the rank of full professor, but Islamic controversies about his academic work led to a court decision of apostasy and the denial of the appointment. The case soon moved beyond Cairo University, after a lawyer filed a lawsuit before the Giza Lower Personal Status Court demanding for the divorce of Abu Zayd from his wife, Dr. Ibtihal Younis. The case was filed on the grounds that a Muslim woman cannot be married to an apostate. His marriage was officially annulled and, two years after the verdict, Abu Zayd left for the Netherlands together with Younis, where they lived till he fell ill. He also participated in a research project on Jewish and Islamic Hermeneutics as Cultural Critique in the Working Group on Islam and modernity at the Institute of Advanced Studies of Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin). In 2005, he received the Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought, Berlin. Prof. Abu Zayd died in 2010.