Muhammad Asad

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Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss) (1900–1992), was an Austrian Polish Jew who converted to Islam, and a 20th century journalist, traveler, writer, social critic, linguist, thinker, reformer, diplomat, political theorist, translator and scholar. Asad was one of the 20th century's most influential European Muslims. He spent several years in Saudi Arabia, where he befriended the royal family, and then moved on to British India and lived mainly in Lahore, Abbottabad, Srinagar and Dalhousie. Upon a suggestion of Allama Iqbal, he translated selections from Sahih Bukhari Sharif into English, the first such translation ever made. He wrote and spoke extensively on the subject of Islam and its conception of state and government and West’s relations with Islam. He was particularly fascinated with the idea of Pakistan as a symbol of rejuvenation of the Islamic world. During the Great War the British interned him as enemy citizen. Upon independence he moved to Pakistan where he was picked up for the Foreign Service and served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the Pakistan Mission to UN in New York, a job he resigned in 1952. He wrote several books most notable of which is ‘The Road to Makkah’ and the English translation of the Holy Quran. Today Pakistan has forgotten this ‘intellectual co-founder of Pakistan.’ In 1947, Asad was given Pakistani citizenship by the newly established Muslim state of Pakistan and appointed the Director of the Department of Islamic Reconstruction by the Government of Pakistan, where he made recommendations on the drafting of Pakistan's first Constitution. In 1949, Asad joined Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as head of the Middle East Division and, in 1952, was appointed Pakistan's Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Nations in New York. Muhammad Asad is famously known for his two publications - "The Road to Mecca", a biographical account of his life up to the age of 32, his conversion to Islam from Judaism and his journey to Mecca and his magnum opus, "The Message of the Qur'an", a translation and commentary of the sacred book of Islam, the Qur'an. Early years

Muhammad Asad was born "Leopold Weiss" on 2 July 1900 to a Jewish family in Lemberg , which until 1918 was part of Austria and afterwards until 1939 was part of the Second Polish Republic (present-day Lviv, Ukraine). When he was a child his family moved to the Imperial capital city of Vienna where he was raised and educated. Asad graduated from Vienna University specializing in History of Art and Philosophy. Years later, together with his Saudi wife and child, he migrated as a common refugee from Dalhousie in eastern Punjab and camped with hundreds of thousands of other refugees at Walton in Lahore. The restless soul that Asad was, he started his career as a correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung daily. At age 23, he went on a reporting trip to the Levant where he visited Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. His dispatches were published in book form in 1924 as Unromantisches Morgenland, which was translated into English in 2004 as The Unromantic Orient. In 1924-26 he made a second trip to the Middle East and this took him to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia as well. Years later, he served as Director of Islamic Reconstruction Department set up by the government of Punjab in Lahore to advise the newly independent country on the requirements of a modern Islamic state. Weiss was a descendant of a long line of Jewish rabbis; however, his father, Kiwa Weiss, broke from tradition and became a lawyer. Leopold received a religious education and was proficient in Hebrew from an early age, as well as familiar with Aramaic. He studied the Old Testament, the text and commentaries of the Talmud, the Mishna and Gemara, also delving into the intricacies of Biblical exegesis and the Targum. Born to a rabbi family and later to become an important twentieth-century Islamic thinker, theologian, linguist, translator, social critic, reformist,...
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