Muhammad Asad

Muhammad Asad, ( , }}, born Leopold Weiss; 2 July 1900 – 20 February 1992) was an Austro-Hungarian-born Jew and convert to Islam who worked as a journalist, traveler, writer, linguist, political theorist, diplomat and Islamic scholar. Asad was one of the most influential European Muslims of the 20th century. His translation of the Quran in English, "The Message of The Qur'an" is one of the most notable of his works. In Asad's words in "The Message of the Quran": "the work which I am now placing before the public is based on a lifetime of study and of many years spent in Arabia. It is an attempt - perhaps the first attempt - at a really idiomatic, explanatory rendition of the Qur'anic message into a European language."

By age 13, Weiss had acquired a passing fluency in Hebrew and Aramaic, on top of his native German and Polish languages. By his mid-twenties, he could read and write in English, French, Persian and Arabic. In Mandatory Palestine, Weiss engaged in arguments with Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann, voicing his reservations about some aspects of the Zionist Movement. After traveling across the Arab World as a journalist, he converted to Sunni Islam in 1926 and adopted the name "Muhammad Asad"—Asad being the Arabic rendition of his root name Leo (Lion).

During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he spent time with Bedouins and enjoyed the close company of the state's founder, Ibn Saud. He also carried out a secret mission for Ibn Saud to trace the sources of funding for the Ikhwan Revolt. Due to these activities, he was dubbed in a Haaretz article as "Leopold of Arabia"—hinting similarity of his activities to those of Lawrence of Arabia. On his visit to India, Asad became friends with Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal, who persuaded him to abandon his eastward travels and "help elucidate the intellectual premises of the future Islamic state". He also spent five years in internment by the British Government at the outbreak of World War II. On 14 August 1947, Asad received Pakistani citizenship and later served at several bureaucratic and diplomatic positions including the Director of Department of Islamic Reconstruction, Deputy Secretary (Middle East Division) in the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, and Pakistan's Envoy to the United Nations.

In the West, Asad rose to prominence as a writer with his best-selling autobiography, ''The Road to Mecca''. Later, after seventeen years of scholarly research, he published his magnum opus: ''The Message of the Qur'an''—an English translation and commentary of the Quran. The book, along with the translations of Pickthall and Yusuf Ali, is regarded as one of the most influential translations of the modern era. An ardent proponent of Ijtihad and rationality in interpreting religious texts, he dedicated his works "to People who Think". In 2008, the entrance square to the UN Office in Vienna was named ''Muhammad Asad Platz'' in commemoration of his work as a "religious bridge-builder". Asad has been described by his biographers as "Europe's gift to Islam" and "a Mediator between Islam and the West". Provided by Wikipedia
1
by Asad, Muhammad, 1900-1992
Published 1999