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Abu Zaid, Nasr Hamid

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Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany | 13/12/2007

Nasr Hamid Abou Zaid on complex identities

The Egyptian Islam expert Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid criticises the fact that in the debate on Islam the West and Islam are often seen as opposing concepts. "East and West are abstract concepts in our imagination. In the course of history both sides have penetrated each other, complemented each other and fought against each other. I put myself forward as an example of how I interpret this constructed identity: my background as an Egyptian Arab and Muslim means that I carry many different cultural elements in my blood - elements of the pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans and the Copts, as well as Arab and Islam elements. I have studied and taught in the US and Japan and now I live in Europe. And who am I? Is my identity shaped by the East or the West? I call for the concept of 'identity' to be freed of simplified, mono-dimensional labels such as 'European' or 'Muslim' and replaced by a more complex notion of identity."

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