The book “Mein Leben mit dem Islam” (Life with Islam) is the autobiography of the Egyptian literary specialist Hamid Nasr Abu Zaid. It was edited by Navid Kermani and has not yet been published in English. Within the context of the biography of Abu Zaid, the book touches the very sensitive issue of being critical towards Islamic thought.
The first chapters take us back to the childhood days of Abu Zaid. His first experiences with the recitation of the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims, are described. In addition the author emphasizes the peaceful coexistence of Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt. In the beginning of the book he stresses the meaning of Islam as a purely spiritual experience, which has nothing to do with politics or any kind of extremism.
In the course of the book the different stations of Abu Zaids life are shown. The growing politicization of Islam appears now linked to his progressing education and his increasing critical feelings towards Islamic thought. He wrote his promotion on a critique of religious discourse, which contradicted the opinion of some conservative scholars. Therefore they refused his promotion. Despite most of the scholars supported Abu Zaid, some fundamentalist Islamic scholars accused him of being an apostate. This trial ended with the forced divorce of Abu Zaid from his wife, who was also a scholar.
After the trial, Abu Zaid and his wife were forced to leave their home country. Even though others accused him of being an apostate, Abu Zaid himself always said, that he is a Muslim and no one has the right to say that he is not. During the whole trial no one ever asked him, whether he has renounced his faith.
The book gives a vivid account of a faithful Muslim being the victim of the abuse of the religion Islam as a political means. Abu Zaid shows that criticizing Islamic thought on the one hand and being a faithful Muslim on the other hand are not mutually exclusive.