Nasr Abu Zayd
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Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (Arabic: نصر حامد ابو زيد, IPA: [ˈnɑsˤɾe ˈħæːmed aboˈzeːd]; July 10, 1943 – July 5, 2010) was an Egyptian Qur'anic thinker and one of the leading liberal theologians in Islam. He is famous for his project of a humanistic Qur'anic hermeneutics.
- 1 Biography
- 2 The Nasr Abu Zayd case
- 3 Exile and death
- 4 Humanistic Hermeneutics of Islam
- 5 Works
- 6 Honors and distinctions
- 7 Awards
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd was born in Quhafa, some 120 km from Cairo, near Tanta, Egypt on July 10, 1945. He died on 5 July 2010 in Cairo as a result of an unidentified virus infection and was buried in his birthplace, on the same day. He was 65. At the age of 12, Abu Zayd was imprisoned for allegedly sympathising with the Muslim Brotherhood. After receiving technical training he worked for the National Communications Organization in Cairo. At the same time, he started studying at Cairo University, where 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.
The Nasr Abu Zayd case
Zayd suffered major religious persecution for his views on the Qur'an. 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. In a hisbah trial started against him by Muslim scholars, he was declared an apostate (murtadd) by an Egyptian court, and consequently was declared to be divorced from his wife, Cairo University French Literature professor Dr. Ibtihal Younis. The basis of the divorce decree under Sharia law was that since it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to be married to a non-Muslim man, and since Zayd was an apostate, he therefore could not remain married to his wife. This decision, in effect, forced him out of his homeland.
Rejection of promotion
The Nasr Abu Zayd case began when he was refused a promotion for the post of full professor. In May 1992, Dr. Abu Zayd presented his academic publications to the Standing Committee of Academic Tenure and Promotion for advancement. Among his thirteen works in Arabic and other languages were Imam Shāfi‘ī and the Founding of Medieval Ideology and The Critique of Religious Discourse. The committee presented three reports, two were in favor of the promotion of Dr. Abu Zayd. But the third one, written by Abdel-Sabour Shahin, a professor of Arabic linguistics and a committee member, accused Abu Zayd of "clear affronts to the Islamic faith," and rejected the promotion.
Despite the two positive reports, the Tenure and Promotion Committee voted against the promotion (seven votes to six), arguing that his works did not justify a promotion. The Council of the Arabic Department stated against the committee's decision, and The Council of the Faculty of Arts criticized the committee report. Despite all that, the Council of Cairo University confirmed the decision of the committee report in 18 March 1993.
Forced divorce proceedings
The case was no longer one involving only 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. But, on 27 January 1994, the Giza Personal Status Court rejected the demand because the plaintiff had no direct, personal interest in the matter.
However, the Cairo Appeals Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff and declared the marriage of Abu Zayd and Ibtihal Younis null and void in 1995. The irony of the story occurred when Cairo University promoted Abu Zayd to full professor and the academic committee wrote:
"After reviewing the works submitted by Dr. Abu-Zeid in his application for promotion, examining them both individually and as a whole, we have reached the following conclusion: his prodigious academic efforts demonstrate that he is a researcher well-rooted in his academic field, well-read in our Islamic intellectual traditions, and with a knowledge of all its many branches — Islamic principles, theology, jurisprudence, Sufism, Qur’anic studies, rhetoric and linguistics — He has not rested on the laurels of his in-depth knowledge of this field, but has taken a forthright, critical position. He does not attempt to make a critique until he has mastered the issues before him, investigating them by way of both traditional and modern methodologies. In sum he is a free thinker, aspiring only to the truth. If there is something urgent about his style, it stems from the urgency of the crisis which the contemporary Arab-Islamic World is witnessing and the necessity to honestly identify the ills of this world in order that an effective cure be found. Academic research should not be isolated from social problems, but should be allowed to participate in current debates and to suggest solutions to current dilemmas by allowing researchers to investigate and interpret as far as possible."
The principle behind hisbah gives all Muslims the right to file lawsuits in cases where an exalted right of God has been violated. The hisbah principles are stated in Article 89 and 110 of the Regulations Governing Sharia Courts. In 1998, however, this law was amended by the Egyptian government, making it impossible for individuals to file lawsuits accusing someone of apostasy, leaving the issue to the prerogative of the prosecution office.
The decision provoked a great debate, and human rights organisations criticized the decisions because of several offenses to fundamental human rights
The Court case was based on the alleged apostasy of Nasr Abu Zayd, hence the decision was based on Qur’anic punishment. But the Egyptian Penal Code does not recognize apostasy, and Civil Law restricts the proof of apostasy to two possibilities: either a certificate from a specialized religious institution certifying that the individual has converted to another religion, or a confession by the individual that he has converted.
"Since a Muslim inherits his/her religion from his/her parents, he/she does not need to re-announce his/her Faith". (Court of Cassation, 5/11/1975 – Court decisions 1926, p. 137).
"It is stated that for a person to be a Muslim it is enough that he articulates his belief in Allah and the Prophet Mohamed. The judge may not look into the seriousness of incentives behind the confession. It is not necessary to make a public confession". (Justice Azmy El Bakry, The Encyclopædia of Jurisprudence and the Judiciary in Personal Status, 3rd Edition, p. 234)
"In accordance with the established course of this court, religious belief is considered to be a spiritual matter, and consequently is to be judged only by what is explicitly declared. Therefore, a judge is not to investigate the sincerity nor the motive of such declared statement". (Cassation 44, judicial year 40, session 26 January 1975).
"This court has always taken the course established by the law that religious belief is among matters in which the judgment should be based on declared statement, and by no means should the sincerity or motives of this statement be questioned". (Cassation 51, judicial year 52, session 14 June 1981) (Both rulings in Azmy al-Bakry, p. 125)
Nasr Abu Zayd never declared himself to be an apostate. In an interview, he explained:
"I'm sure that I'm a Muslim. My worst fear is that people in Europe may consider and treat me as a critic of Islam. I'm not. I'm not a new Salman Rushdie, and don't want to be welcomed and treated as such. I'm a researcher. I'm critical of old and modern Islamic thought. I treat the Qur'an as a naṣṣ (text) given by God to the Prophet Muhammad. That text is put into a human language, which is the Arabic language. When I said so, I was accused of saying that the Prophet Muhammad wrote the Qur’an. This is not a crisis of thought, but a crisis of conscience."
The judgement stated that:
"the defendant's proposition that the requirement of Christians and Jews to pay jizyah (poll tax) constitutes a reversal of humanity's efforts to establish a better world is contrary to the divine verses on the question of jizyah, in a manner considered by some, inappropriate, even for temporal matters and judgments notwithstanding its inappropriateness when dealing with the Qur’an and Sunnah, whose texts represent the pinnacle of humane and generous treatment of non-Muslim minorities. If non-Muslim countries were to grant their Muslim minorities even one-tenth of the rights accorded to non-Muslim minorities by Islam, instead of undertaking the mass murder of men, women, and children, this would be a step forward for humanity. The verse on jizyah, verse 29 of Surat al-Tawbah, which the defendant opposes, is not subject to discussion". (p. 16 of the judicial opinion)
Further, the judgment stated that the denunciation by Abu Zayd of the permissibility of the ownership of slave girls, a principle considered "religiously proven without doubt", is "contrary to all the divine texts which permit such provided that the required conditions are met" (p. 16 of the judicial opinion).
The decision was not isolated; it was made during a period of several assaults on liberal intellectuals and artists in the Muslim world in the 1990s. Dr. Ahmed Sohby Mansour was dismissed from Al-Azhar University and imprisoned for six months. This was based on a verdict reached by the university itself on the grounds that he rejected a fundamental tenet of Islam in his research of truth of some of Muhammad's sayings, or Hadith. Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck by an Islamist in 1994, leaving him incapable of using his hand to write. Egyptian courts were the theatre of different lawsuits brought against intellectuals, journalists, and university professors such as Atif al-Iraqi, Ragaa al-Naqash, Mahmoud al-Tohami, and Youssef Chahine (for his film El-Mohager, The Emigrant).
Exile and death
After the verdict, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization (which assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981) said the professor should be killed because he had abandoned his Muslim faith. Dr. Nasr Abu Zayd was protected by the police, but soon rejected the security. On 23 July 1995, the couple flew to Madrid, then decided to go from Spain to the Netherlands, where he was invited to teach as a Visiting Professor at the Leiden University. On November 8, 1999, he filed a suit against the Egyptian justice minister, demanding that the 1996 ruling which annulled the marriage be declared illegal.
He held the Ibn Rushd Chair of Humanism and Islam at the University for Humanistics, Utrecht, The Netherlands, while still supervising MA and PhD students at the University of Leiden as well. 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. His wife returned several times to Egypt for discussion on MA and PhD theses at the French department at Cairo University. Dr. Abu Zayd also returned several times to Egypt after 1995, but mostly to visit family. During a visit in Indonesia he was infected by an unknown virus, and was hospitalized in Cairo. He died at a Cairo hospital on July 5, 2010.
Humanistic Hermeneutics of Islam
From the beginning of his academic career, he developed a renewed hermeneutic view of the Qur'an and further Islamic holy texts, arguing that they should be interpreted in the historical and cultural context of their time. The mistake of many Muslim scholars was to see the Qur'an only as a text, which led conservatives as well as liberals to a battle of quotations, each group seeing clear verses (when on their side) and ambiguous ones (when in contradiction with their vision). But this type of controversy led both conservatives and liberals to produce authoritative hermeneutics.
This vision of the Qur'an as a text was the vision of the elites of Muslim societies, whereas, at the same time, the Qur'an as an oral discourse played the most important part in the understanding of the masses. Nasr Abu Zayd called for another reading of the holy book through a humanistic hermeneutics, an interpretation which sees the Qur'an as a living phenomenon, a discourse. Hence, the Qur'an can be "the outcome of dialogue, debate, despite argument, acceptance and rejection". This liberal interpretation of Islam should open space for new perspectives on the religion and should account for social change in Muslim societies.
That is why Abu Zayd's analysis can find in the Qur'an several insistent calls for social justice. For instance, when Muhammad was busy preaching to the rich people of Quraysh, and did not pay attention to a poor blind fellow named Ibn Umm Maktūm who came asking the Prophet for advice, the Qur'an strongly blames Muhammad's attitude (chapter 80:1–10).
As well, he found a tendency to improve women's rights, arguing that the Qur'anic discourse was built in a patriarchal society, and therefore the addressees were naturally males, who received permission to marry, divorce, and marry off their female relatives, hence, it is possible to imagine that Muslim women receive the same rights. The classical position of the modern ‘ulamā’ about that issue is understandable as "they still believe in superiority of the male in the family".
Abu Zayd promoted a view on modern Islamic thought by critically approaching classical and contemporary Islamic discourse in the fields of theology, philosophy, law, politics, and humanism. The aim of his research was to substantiate a theory of humanistic hermeneutics that might enable Muslims to build a bridge between their own tradition and the modern world of freedom of speech, equality (minority rights, women's rights, social justice), human rights, democracy and globalisation.
Books in Arabic
1. Rationalism in Exegesis: A Study of the Problem of Metaphor in the Writing of the Mutazilites (Al-Ittijāh al-‘Aqlī fī al-Tafsīr: Dirāsah fī Qadīyat al-Majāz fī al-Qur’ân ‘inda al-Mu‘tazilah), Beirut and Casablanca 1982, 4th edition 1998.
2. The Philosophy of Hermeneutics: A Study of Ibn al-‘Arabī's Hermeneutics of the Qur’ān (Falsafat al-Ta’wīl: Dirâsah fi Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān ‘inda Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn al-‘Arabī), Beirut and Casablanca 1983, 4th edition, 1998.
3. The Systems of Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics (‘Ilm al-‘Alāmāt), co-editor, Cairo 1986.
4. The Concept of the Text: A Study of the Qur’anic Sciences (Mafhūm al-Naṣṣ: Dirāsah fī ‘Ulūm al-Qur’ān), Beirut and Cairo 1991, 5th edition 1998.
5. The Problematic of Reading and the Tools Of Interpretation (Ishkālīyāt al-Qirā’ah wa-Āliyāt al-Ta'wīl), Beirut and Casablanca 1995, 5th edition 1999.
6. Imam al-Shafi'i and the Foundation of the Ideology of the Middle Path [Wasatiyya] (al-Imâm al-Shāfi‘ī wa-Ta’sīs al-Īdiyūlūjīyah al-Wasaṭīyah), Cairo, 3rd edition 1998.
7. Critique of Religious Discourse (Naqd al-Khiṭāb al-Dīnī), Cairo, 4th edition 1998.
8. Women in the Discourse of Crisis (al-Mar’ah fī Khiṭāb al-Azmah), Cairo 1995. See extract in English here : Dossier 17: Women in the Discourse of Crisis, September 1997, Translated by Marlene Tadros, http://www.wluml.org/english/pubsfulltxt.shtml?cmd%5B87%5D=i-87-2642
9. Thinking in the Time of Anathema (al-Tafkīr fī Zaman al-Takfīr), Cairo, 3ed edition 1998.
10. The Caliphate and the Authority of the People (al-Khilāfah wa-Sulṭat al-Ummah), Cairo, 1995.
11. Text, Authority, Truth (al-Naṣṣ, al-Sulṭah, al-Haqīqah), Beirut and Casablanca 1995, second edition 1997.
12. Circles of Fear: Reading the Discourse about Women (Dawā’ir al-Khawf: Qirā’ah fī Khiṭāb al-Mar’ah) Beirut and Casablanca 1999.
13. Discourse and Hermeneutics (al-Khiṭāb wa-al-Ta’wīl), Beirut and Casablanca 2000.
14. Thus Spoke Ibn al-‘Arabī (Hākadhā Takallama Ibn al-‘Arabī) The Egyptian National Organization for Books, Cairo 2002.
Books in English
1. Reformation of Islamic Thought: A Critical Historical Analysis. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006.
2. Rethinking the Qur'an: Towards a Humanistic Hermeneutics. Utrecht: Humanistics University Press, 2004.
3. Voice of an Exile: Reflections on Islam (with Esther R. Nelson). New York: Praeger Publishers, 2004.
Articles in English
1. Al-Ghazali’s Theory of Interpretation, Journal of Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan, 72, 1986, pp. 1–24.
2. The Perfect Man in the Qur’an: Textual Analysis, Journal of Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Japan, no. 73, 1988, pp. 111–133.
3. The Case of Abu-Zaid, Index on Censorship, London, 4, 1996, pp. 30–39.
4. Linguistic Exposition of God in the Qur'an in Fundamentalismus der Moderne, Christen und Muslime im Dialog, Evangelische Akademie, Loccum, Germany, 75/94, 1996, pp. 97–110.
5. The Textuality of The Koran in Islam and Europe in Past and Present, NIAS (Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in The Humanities and Social Sciences), 1997, pp. 43 – 52.
6. Divine Attributes in the Qur’an: Some poetic aspects in Islam and Modernity, edited by John Cooper, Ronald Nettler and Mohammed Mahmoud, I.B. Tauris, London, 1998, pp. 120–211.
7. Inquisition Trial in Egypt, in Human Rights in Islam 15, RIMO, Maastricht 1998, pp. 47–55.
8. Islam, Muslims and Democracy, in Religion und Politik, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, intere Studie Nr. 151/1998, pp. 103–12.
9. Literature and Heresy–Literature and Justice: The Critical Potential of Enlightened religion in Literatur, Menschenrechte in Islamischen Gesellschaften und Staaten, Evangelische Akademie Loccum 22/96, 1998, pp. 18–32.
10.The Concept of Human Rights, the Process of Modernization and the Politics of Western Domination, in Politik und Gesellschaft: International Politics and Society, Herausgegeben von der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 4/1998, pp. 434–437.
11. The Modernization of Islam or the Islamization of Modernity, in Cosmopolitanism, Identity and Authenticity in the Middle East, ed. Roel Meijer, Curzon Press, England 1999,pp 71–86.
12. Islamic Cosmology and Qur’anic Exegesis, in Religion Wandel der Kosmologien, edited by Dieter Zeller, Sonderdruck 1999, pp. 217–230.
13. The Sectarian and the Renaissance Discourse, translated and introduced by Mona Mikhail, ALIF, Journal of Comparative Poetics, The American University of Cairo, no 19, 1999, pp. 203–222
14. The Image of Europe in Modern Egyptian Narrative, in Colonizer and Colonized, Eds. Theo D'haen and Patricia Krüs, Rodopi, Amsterdam-Atlanta 2000, vol. 2, pp. 627–643.
15. The Qur’an: God and Man in Communication: Inaugural Lecture for the Cleveringa Chair at Leiden University (November 27, 2000) http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/forum/01_1/onderzoek/2.htm
17. The Qur'an, Islam and Muhammad, Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations, website address : http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022039
18. Heaven, Which Way? Al-Ahram Weekly, issue No. 603. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2002/603/sc16-17.htm
19. The Dilemma of the Literary Approach to the Qur’an, ALIF, Journal of Comparative Poetics, the American University Cairo (AUC), No. 23, Literature and the Sacred, 2003, pp. 8–47.
20. Spricht Gott nur Arabisch? (Does God Speak Arabic?), in Michael Thumann (ed), Der Islam und der Westen, Berliner Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 2003, pp. 117–126.
21. Entries in the Encyclopædia of the Qur’ān, Brill, Leiden-Boston-Köln: 1–Arrogance, Vol. I (2001), pp. 158–161. 2–Everyday Life: Qur’an In, Vol. II (2002), pp. 80–97. 3–Illness and Health, Vol. II (2002), pp. 501–502. 4–Intention, Vol. II (2002), pp. 549–551. 5–Oppression, Vol 111 (2003), pp. 583–584.
22. Islam in Europe/Europe Against Islam! Europe, Open Your Eyes, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Europe: Insights from the Outside (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 5), Baden-Baden 2011, pp. 67-73.
Book reviews in English
1. Beyond The Written Words: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion by William A. Graham, Die Welt des Islam, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1995, 35, 1, pp. 150–152.
2. Muslims, Jews and Pagans: Studies on Early Islamic Medina, by Micheal Lecker, Bibliotheca Orientalis LV No. 1 / 2, January–April 1998, Column 275–8.
3. Paradise Lost: Reflections on the Struggle for Authenticity in the Middle East by C.A.O. van Nieuwenhuijze, Bibliotheca Orientalis LVI No. 3/4, May–August 1999, Column 510–513.
5. Reforming the Muslim World, by M.A. Shoudhury, Biblitheca Orientalis, LV11 No.1/2, January–April 2000 columns 221–224.
6. Islamic Banking and Interest: a study of the Prohibition of Riba and its Contemporary Interpretation by Abdullad Saeed, Bibliotheca Orientalis, LV11 No. 5/6, September–December 2000 column 736–739.
1. Politik und Islam: Kritik des Religiösen Diskurses, translated by Cherifa Magdi, Dipa-Verlag, Frankfurt, 1996.
2. Ein Leben mit dem Islam (Life with Islam) autobiography edited by Navid Kermani, translated by Sharifa Magdi, Herder 1999.
1. Islam und Menschenrechte (Islam and Human Rights), Kas. Auslands-Informationen, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 5, 1996, pp. 51–59.
2. Die Frauenfrage zwischen Fundamentalismus und Aufklärung by Salima Salih, in Islam-Demokratie-Moderne, Aktuelle Antworten arabicher Denker, Verlag C.H. Beck, München, 1998, pp. 193–210.
1. Vernieuwing in het islamitisch denken, translated by Fred and Rob Leemhuis, Uitgeverij BULAAQ, Amsterdam, 1996. 2. Islam en democratie: convergenties of divergenties? In de hemel op aarde - De gelovige burger in multiculturele democratie, Davidfonds Leuven 1998, pp. 114–128. 3. Mijn Leven met de Islam, Becht. Haarlem, 2002
1. Le Discours religieux contemporain: mécanismes et fondements intellectuels, translated by Nachwa al-Azhari, Edwige Lambert and Iman Farag, In: Egypte/Monde arabe, No.3, 3e trimestre, 1990, Cairo, Cedej, pp. 73–120.
2. Critique du Discours religieux, translated by Mohamed Chairet, Sindbad Actes Sud, 1999.
1. Imam Syafi‘i: Moderatisme – Eklektisime – Arabisme, translated by Khoiron Nahdliyyin, LKIS, 1997.
1. Islâm e Storia, Critica del discorso religioso, Bollati Boringhieri, 2002.
2. Testo sacro e libertà. Per una lettura critica del Corano, texts by Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd edited by Federica Fedeli, introduction by Nina zu Fürstenberg, I libri di Reset, Marislio editori, Venice 2012, ISBN 978-88-317-1091-6
3. Una vita con l'Islam, Il Mulino, 2004
1. Mafhūm al-Waḥy, by Muhammad Taqi Karmi, in Naqd o Nazar, vol 3, no. 4, Fall 1997, pp. 376–433.
2. al-Tārīkhīyah: al-Mafhūm al-Multabis, by Muhammad Taqi Karmi, in Naqd o Nazar, vol 3, no. 4, Fall 1997, pp. 328–375
1. Universal Principles of Shari‘ah: A New Reading, translated from Arabic to Turkish by Mostafa Unver, Journal of Islamic Research, Ankara, Turkey, vol. 8, n. 2, 1995, pp. 139–143.
2. The Problem of Qur'anic Hermeneutics, from Classical to Recent Period by Ömer Özsoy, Journal of Islamic Research, Ankara, Turkey, vol. 9, no. 1-2-3-4, 1996, pp. 24–44.
3. The Foundation of The Moderate Ideology in Islamic Thought by al-Shāi‘îī, translated by M. Hayri Kırbasoğlu, in Sunni Paradigmanın Olusumunda, Kitabiyat, Ankara 2000, pp. 89–148.
4. 'İslam'la bir Yaşam, İletişim Yayınları, 2004
Honors and distinctions
- 1975–1977: Ford Foundation Fellowship at the American University in Cairo.
- 1978–1979: Ford Foundation Fellowship at the Center for Middle East Studies of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia USA.
- 1982: Obtained the ‘Abdel-‘Azīz al-Ahwānī Prize for Humanities.
- 1985–1989: Visiting Professor, Osaka University of Foreign Studies Japan.
- 1993: The President of Tunisia conferred the Republican Order of Merit for services to Arab culture in May.
- 1994– Member of the Advisory Board for the "Encyclopædia of the Qur’an"
- 1995–: Visiting Professor at Leiden University, The Netherlands.
- 1998: The Jordanian Writers Association Award for Democracy and Freedom.
- 2000–2001: The Cleveringa Honorary Chair in Law, Responsibility, Freedom of Religion and Conscience, Leiden University.
- 2002: The Roosevelt Institute Medal for Freedom of Worship.
- 2002–2003: Fellow at the Wissenschaften College in Berlin.
- The Ibn Rushd Price for Freedom of Thought for the year 2005 in Berlin.
- Karim Alrawi, "Letter from Cairo", New Statesman & Society, London, June 25, 1993
- Staff (8 August 2009) "The battle for a religion's heart" The Economist 392(8643): pp. 52–53, p. 53
- Dossier 14-15: From Confiscation to Charges of Apostasy, The Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (CHRLA), September 1996
- An apostate, a proposed new marriage contract and Egyptian women: where to now?, Azzam Karam, Journal no.8 1996. pp 29–32.
- Lives torn apart in battle for the soul of the Arab world, Mona Eltahawy, Wednesday October 20, 1999, The Guardian
- In the Footsteps of Averroes – The Reformist Islamic Thinker Muhammad Shahrur by Loay Mudhoon – Qantara
- New Secularism in the Arab World, Ghassan F. Abdullah
- When the professor can't teach, Nadia Abou El-Magd
- Egypt: Feminist writer threatened by forced divorce for comments on Islam, 2001
- The Fate of Egyptian Feminist Writer, Off With Her Head, Al Ahram Weekly
- Obituary: Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd - Pioneer of Progressive Interpretations of the Koran
- Remembering Abu Zayd, Dossier on Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations
- Opening the Doors of Ijtihad, Fred Dallmayr on Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations
- Rawafed: documentary interview Nasr Abu Zayd. Alarabiya.net
- Personal web page at the University for Humanistics
- The Qur'an: God and Man in Communication by Nasr Abu Zayd
- The Qur’anic Concept of Justice by Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
- Rethinking the Qur’an : towards a humanistic hermeneutics by Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
- Legacy page containing most of the Arabic and English works of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd at the DeenResearchCenter (DRC)
- Abu Zayd interviewed by Nina zu Fürstenberg on resetdoc.org
- Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Sadik Al-Azm, Abdou Filali-Ansary, Navid Kermani and others about Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd on Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations
- Video: My Life Fighting Intolerance Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd interviewed by Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations
- Video: The Other as Mirror of Selfunderstanding. Comparing Two traditions Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd interviewed by Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations
- Samir Abuzaid, Professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, arabphilosophers.com