The Ibn Rushd Fund mourns the death of the Arab thinker Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid
The Ibn Rushd Fund learned with great sorrow about the the death of the Egyptian thinker Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, honorary member of the Ibn Rushd Fund and winner of the Ibn Rushd Award 2005. His death creates a vast loss to enlightened thinking and progressive forces in the Arab World. Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid worked all his life for a re-interpretation of the Qur’an; he wanted this re-interpretation to be truly independent and freed from all religious tradition.
He criticized the traditional reading of the Qur’an as obsolete and called instead for a scientifically substantiated interpretation which establishes a relationship to the historical context, and separates the fundamental claims from those arising from the time of its creation. The scholar of the Qur’an was convinced there would be no progress for Arabic societies and Muslims without a critique of the religious discourse and a rational fresh interpretation of the religious-cultural heritage. He advocated the right to self-determination of all humans and was a staunch defender of equal rights for women. It was Abu Zaid’s foremost goal to prevent a politicization of religion and a religionization of politics with his research and his writings. The scholar of Islam had to make the greatest sacrifices for his beliefs and caused quite a stir in the 1990s when he was denounced as a heretic and an apostate because of his scientific texts. Once pronounced a non-muslim, he was threatened to be forcefully divorced from his wife, as Egyptian law forbids the marriage of a muslim woman to a non-muslim man; he and his wife consequently sought exile in the Netherlands.
We are proud that Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid stuck to his convictions throughout his life, stood up for his culture and his country and fought with all his force for the development of the Arab Nation under the aspects of reason and logic.
We express our deepest sympathy to his family, especially to his wife Prof. Ibtihal Yunis, as well as all his friends, students and followers. We wish them and ourselves the strength to bear the loss of this great thinker and to preserve his thoughts within us and to perpetuate and spread them.
Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought
Hikmat Bushnaq-Josting – Chairman
Dr. John Nasta – Vice chairman