Current Issue

Mar.23, 2011

Vol. 111, No. 9


Muhammad F.M. Osman *76

Published in the Mar.23, 2011, issue

Fathi Osman, whom The New York Times described as “an influential scholar who articulated a liberal version of Islam,” died Sept. 11, 2010, of congestive heart failure. He was 82.

Born in Egypt, Osman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Cairo University in 1948 and 1962, respectively.

In the 1940s, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood, but broke with that group in the 1950s and followed a more moderate version of Islam. In the 1960s, he taught at universities in Cairo, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia.

In 1976, Osman received a Ph.D. from Princeton in Near Eastern studies. He then taught history at Ibn Saud University in Saudi Arabia. In 1987, he became a scholar-in-residence at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles. He also was a senior scholar at the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at the University of Southern California.

Osman wrote more than two dozen books in Arabic and English explaining Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. His most important book in English is Concepts of the Quran: A Topical Reading (1997) — nearly 1,000 pages long and arranged by subject.

He is survived by his wife, Aida Abdel-Rahman Osman; and his daughter, Ghada.

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