Lecture: The Quran in an Historical Context by Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

Fri, April 24, 2009 6:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Free and Open to the Public

For a recent discussion of Nasr Abu Zayd, see the Times' Nicolas Kristof this week who cites Prof. Abu Zayd as a scholar he particularly admires, "who argues eloquently that if the Koran is interpreted sensibly in context then it carries a strong message of social justice and women’s rights." While the tone and assumptions of Kristof's article - that "sensible" Islamic scholarship is somehow new or rare, that the Muslim world is split between the lone moderates he lauds and a fundamentalist mainstream, that non-brutal or misogynistic Koranic interpretation is surprising - must be challenged, his attention to Prof. Abu Zayd's important work is welcome. We look forward to a lively discussion.

Religious texts are understandably ubiquitous. They are texts that take on a life of their own, above and beyond the quotidian, above and beyond history, and are endowed with a halo of omnipotence and omnipresence. However subjecting sacred texts to innovative forms of historical, hermeneutical or allegorical readings can be an immensely rich exercise in bringing out the multidimensional view inherent in the text and in our reception of its meaning. In this lecture, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd will offer a survey of the most recent theories, controversies and discoveries in the field of Quranic studies as well as address by way of a historical and comparative reading the circumstances in which the Quran was formed and its relationship to the Bible.

Nasr Hamid Abu Zayed is the Ibn Rushd Chair for Islam and Humanism at the University of Ultrecht as well as professor of Islamic Studies at Leiden University. Graduate of Cairo University, with a PhD in Qur'anic Studies, he is one of the pioneers of Islamic thought and author of more than a dozen books.

For an example of Abu Zayed's writing, see:

Last updated: 2009-04-24 01:54:08

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