He was born Leopold Weiss in Lwow, Galicia now in Poland the son of a Jewish barrister and grandson of an orthodox rabbi. He studied history of art and philosophy at Vienna University then went to Prague and later Berlin. Invited to Jerusalem by his uncle, Dorian Weiss, a prominent psychiatrist and early pupil of Freud,... he encountered the Zionist Committee of Action but from the outset conceived a strong objection to Zionism an objection which he personally conveyed to Dr Chaim Weizman, the leader of the Zionist movement.... He became a correspondent for Die Frankfurter Zeitung, making a name for himself with dispatches from Palestine.
He traveled extensively in the Mashreq and Maghreb... The turning point came in 1926 when he converted to Islam.... Asad enjoyed a close friendship with King Ibn Saud. His love affair with Arabia was more intense than those of his European predecessors.... After more travelling, Asad went to British India and befriended Muhammad Iqbal, the spiritual father of the idea of a separate Pakistan, whom he admired greatly. Iqbal persuaded Asad to abandon plans to travel to eastern Turkestan, China and Indonesia and to help elucidate the intellectual premises of the future Islamic state....
After an absence of 25 years from the West, Asad came to Paris and then to New York in early 1952, serving as Pakistan's Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations. His spiritual autobiography, The Road to Mecca (1954), which the Times Literary Supplement called "a narrative of great power and beauty," covered the first half of his life, including a journey in the summer of 1932 into the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Desert, which confirmed his conversion to his new belief, and a conscious, wholehearted allegiance from one cultural environment to another....
However, Asad's chief ambition was to translate the Koran into English. First Switzerland and then Morocco provided the setting for the preparation of his magnum opus, The Message of the Qu'ran (1980), dedicated to "people who think." In its intellectual engagement with the text and in the subtle and profound understanding of the pure classical Arabic of the Koran, Asad's interpretation is of a power and intelligence without rival in English.
Asad was saddened by the intellectual insularity of the Muslim world, the intolerance of the extremists, and was a powerful advocate of the rights of Muslim women. It was Asad's insistence that the constitution of Pakistan allow for the election of a woman leader that opened the way for Benazir Bhutto. "The great mistake (of the fundamentalists)," he once explained, "is that most of these leaders start with the hudud, criminal punishment. This is the end result of the sharia (Islamic Law), not the beginning. The beginning is the rights of the people. There is no punishment in Islam which has no corresponding right.
-- Excerpted from The Guardian
Muhammad Asad in his own words:
In 1922 I left my native country, Austria, to travel through Africa and Asia as a Special Correspondent to some of the leading Continental newspapers, and spent from that year onward nearly the whole of my time in the Islamic East. My interest in the nations with which I came into contact was in the beginning that of an outsider only. I saw before me a social order and an outlook on life fundamentally different from the European; and from the very first there grew in me a sympathy for the more tranquil -- I should rather say: more mechanized mode of living in Europe. This sympathy gradually led me to an investigation of the reasons for such a difference, and I became interested in the religious teachings of the Muslims. At the time in question, that interest was not strong enough to draw me into the fold of Islam, but it opened to me a new vista of a progressive human society, of real brotherly feeling. The reality, however, of present day Muslim life appeared to be very far from the ideal possibilities given in the religious teachings of Islam. Whatever, in Islam, had been progress and movement, had turned, among the Muslims, into indolence and stagnation; whatever there had been of generosity and readiness for self-sacrifice, had become, among the present-day Muslims, perverted into narrow-mindedness and love of an easy life.
Prompted by this discovery and puzzled by the obvious incongruency between Once and Now, I tried to approach the problem before me from a more intimate point of view: that is, I tried to imagine myself as being within the circle of Islam. It was a purely intellectual experiment; and it revealed to me, within a very short time, the right solution. I realized that the one and only reason for the social and cultural decay of the Muslims consisted in the fact that they had gradually ceased to follow the teachings of Islam in spirit. Islam was still there; but it was a body without soul. The very element which once had stood for the strength of the Muslim world was now responsible for its weakness: Islamic society had been built, from the very outset, on religious foundations alone, and the weakening of the foundations has necessarily weakened the cultural structure -- and possibly might cause its ultimate disappearance.
The more I understood how concrete and how immensely practical the teachings of Islam are, the more eager became my questioning as to why the Muslims had abandoned their full application to real life. I discussed this problem with many thinking Muslims in almost all the countries between the Libyan Desert and the Pamirs, between the Bosphorus and the Arabian Sea. It almost became an obsession which ultimately overshadowed all my other intellectual interests in the world of Islam. The questioning steadily grew in emphasis -- until I, a non-Muslim, talked to Muslims as if I were to defend Islam from their negligence and indolence. The progress was imperceptible to me, until one day -- it was in autumn 1925, in the mountains of Afghanistan -- a young provincial Governor said to me: "But you are a Muslim, only you don't know it yourself." I was struck by these words and remained silent. But when I came back to Europe once again, in 1926, I saw that the only logical consequence of my attitude was to embrace Islam.
So much about the circumstances of my becoming a Muslim. Since then I was asked, time and again: "Why did you embrace Islam ? What was it that attracted you particularly ?" -- and I must confess: I don't know of any satisfactory answer. It was not any particular teaching that attracted me, but the whole wonderful, inexplicably coherent structure of moral teaching and practical life program. I could not say, even now, which aspect of it appeals to me more than any other. Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other: nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composure. Probably this feeling that everything in the teachings and postulates of Islam is "in its proper place," has created the strongest impression on me. There might have been, along with it, other impressions also which today it is difficult for me to analyze. After all, it was a matter of love; and love is composed of many things; of our desires and our loneliness, of our high aims and our shortcomings, of our strength and our weakness. So it was in my case. Islam came over me like a robber who enters a house by night; but, unlike a robber, it entered to remain for good.
Ever since then I endeavored to learn as much as I could about Islam. I studied the Qur'an and the Traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); I studied the language of Islam and its history, and a good deal of what has been written about it and against it. I spent over five years in the Hijaz and Najd, mostly in al-Madinah, so that I might experience something of the original surroundings in which this religion was preached by the Arabian Prophet. As the Hijaz is the meeting center of Muslims from many countries, I was able to compare most of the different religious and social views prevalent in the Islamic world in our days. Those studies and comparisons created in me the firm conviction that Islam, as a spiritual and social phenomenon, is still in spite of all the drawbacks caused by the deficiencies of the Muslims, by far the greatest driving force mankind has ever experienced; and all my interest became, since then, centered around the problem of its regeneration.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
islam.may God bless him
have to struggle to realise the islamic society which he
had as a vision
He expected those Muslims to straighten themselves and their charges first; it must be that way: first we purify our hearts before God, then become united in spirit and goal, which is simply to re-introduce Islam even to its heedless adherents who are immersed in the joys of this life, alas, forgetting all that the Creator has said about what awaits them with His pleasure. But this is the nature of humans in general: to partake of what's available before it vanishes.
But I say if we please God with our work He, in turn, will please us even in this life: "and ask forgiveness of your Lord and return to Him, He will then grant you a pleasing life." Meaning: as he did with our predecessors, He can easily do it again for us. God's grace is limitless, look how He has granted us the knowledge to connect globally, an invaluable bounty indeed, to further our bond. Let us waste no time and take advantage of this and disseminate knowledge. Only then can we make this planet, with God's help, less hellish if not a peaceful haven for all.
ALL MOSLIMS MUST KNOW THE REAL ISLAM.
THIS GREAT MAN MUHAMMAD ASAD INDICATE THAT ISLAM IS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR GREAT PEOPLE.
I HOPE ALL THE MOSLIMS GO BACK TO ISLAM IN THE QUORAAN ONLY WITH MIND.
ANYONE CAN FIND IN QUORAAN THE TREASURE OF GOOD LIFE AND PEACE.
THANKS TO YOU FOR THIS TEACHING GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
We will win this battle by the heart not the sword and leading the Christians back into monotheism. This will not be an easy job for they think they are monotheist already even if The Creator does not think so.
The world needs to create an organization of dua's trained in the monotheistic paradigm of the bible and sufficient "symbolic interactionism" to be able to understand and explain The Creators religion and plan from the reference the Christians believe in, the Bible. But to do this the Dua's must know Islam and control their minds sufficiently to be immune to the misleading influences they will meet. Once these people have been trained then the techniques of "transorginizational development" can be applied to bring people back into alignment with the will of The Creator. But be warned, cybernetic backlash will precipitate the very effect we will be fighting against. From the point of view of the Christians, it will indeed be the "final revelation" in more ways than they will understand. Once the battle against the ignorance of darkness is enjoined it can not be quit. Once you take up the sword of light you are forever a target of the darkness. And those that follow blindly in the dark know not what they do. Few learn something better than those that set out to teach it especially when your life depends on it. If Islam wants a revival or survive at all it must revive the world. God Willing. Amen.
Notice how he speaks of the religious degradation of Muslims which he observed almost 80 years ago. Imagine how detached they are from Islam now! Truly we are doomed unless Allah turns our hearts back to him.
We are the only people on the face of this earth who worship Allah alone, no partners and no family members, and who believe in all his prophets. But, obviously, this is not enough to salvage our dignity and honor; our 1.2 billion are just as our Prophet (pbuh) prophesied:
Prophet: The nations are about to descend upon you as would a bunch of hungry people upon their meal.
Companion: Are we few at that time, oh Messenger of Allah?
Prophet: Oh, but you are so numerous on those days, but you are weak, the love of this dunya and hating death have weakened you.
How true these words ring 1400 years later.
Here was a man who dedicated his whole life to the cause of Islam. I dont like to call him a convert, he was a revert, someone who reverted back to his true religion as all of us are as well.
His tafseer, which took years to write is thought provoking and mind blowing in its beauty and really is for people "WHO THINK!" a trait sadly lacking in most of the muslims of today and the main reason why we are in the state we are in now.
Mohammad Asad left behind not a very large body of works but their magnitude should not be judged by their number, but should be judged by its quality and impact.
Some of his works include:
Islam at the crossroads
Principles of state and government in Islam
This law of ours and other essays
The road to Mecca
Message of the quran
Sahih Al-Bukhari ( the early years)
Mohammad Asad was working on a translation of the Sahih Bukhari, but sadly he lost a lot of his papers during world war II. Such was dynamic personality that Allama Iqbal asked him in 1931 to stay behind in India and work for the cuase of Islam and a future homeland for muslims called Pakistan. Iqbal also asked him to translate the Quran and sahih Bukhair in english.
The greatest tragedy is that we muslims in general and Pakistani's specially dont even know how Mohammad Asad served in the birth of Pakistan and even remained an ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations till 1952.
Asad thought about the reasons for the decline of the muslims and after years of thought he came to the simple conclusion, 'Muslims have forgotten the true spirit of Islam'. How true he was and is. I hope our generation and the coming ones realize what we have to do as an Ummah and stand upto our responsibi
A wonderful contribution to the cause of Islam by your website.
I'm reading The Road to Mecca; it is one of the best books I have ever read. Muhammad Asad shows great insight that should be heeded today. His prose is beautiful and his life an inspiration.
I really wish I could have met him before his death. (In Sha Allah we will share company in Allah's Jannah.)
Alhamdulillah to my Allah , who does
Muhammad Asad a Muslim. Allah said in His
Holly Quran: " Wherewith Allah guideth all
who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace
and safety, and leadeth them out of darkness,
by His will, unto the lightt,- guideth them to a
path that is straigtht. (5: 16)
It is first time I read a Jewish Muslim,
Alhamdulillah Iam very happy to know that
there was a so strong person, and to know
that he also is Muslim. It proves that Islam is
for every one. And that Islam gonna go all the
way from Mashriq to Magrib. Jazakallah khair
brother Muhammad Asad for eveything khair
you did for your Ummah.
Alhamdulillah aladi jaalana Muslimeen!!!!!
Asalamu aleikum wr wb
I love his translation of the Holy Quran,
along with Nooruddin/omar/omar's english translation.
May Allah Bless all of them, and grant them Paradise. AMIN
It's also my sincere wish that we will be having more of his dose.