Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (1943-2010) was born in Tanta in the Egyptian Delta and received his early education in an Islamic school. He attended graduate study at Cairo University and accepted a position as lecturer at the same university.; During this time, Abu Zayd secured fellowships to the American University of Cairo, followed by a Ford Foundation Fellowship in 1978-9 to the University of Pennsylvania where he took interest in linguistics, anthropology and sociology, and particularly in hermeneutic theory. Following his return to Cairo University, Abu Zayd began to examine notable works of Islamic heritage in light of modern literary criticism. Subsequently, on an exchange fellowship in affiliation with Osaka University in Japan he wrote most of his well known works in Arabic investigating the Quran in light of academic hermeneutics theories. Abu Zayd emigrated from Egypt in 1995 after being convicted as an apostate by Egyptian courts. He began a teaching post at Leiden University in the Netherlands where he held the Cleveringa Chair and was honored in 2002 by the Franklin Delano Rosevelt Memorial Award for his work on religious freedom.