07 November, 2011

Muhammad Asad: The Road to Makkah

How many people have heard of Muhammad Asad? He is, undoubtedly, one of the most extraordinary, and least known, Muslim scholars of the last century. He was not only a scholar, but also a thinker, a traveler, an explorer and one of the most influential European Muslims of the 20th Century. And most of all - an extraordinary man indeed; who lead a most extraordinary life: a Jew who, due to his feeling "a spiritual emptiness, a vague, cynical relativism born out of increasing hopelessness" lead him to converting to Islam. Of Islam, he said: "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; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure." He wrote several books, one of which is: 'The Road to Mecca'.

Leopold Weiss, after his conversion to Islam became - Muhammad Asad - went on, not only to spend years in Makkah, Madinah and Pakistan - but to learn and study in detail: Arabic, the Noble Qur'an, the Hadiths and Islamic history. And he wrote very powerful, very absorbing books on Islam. His most known and, maybe, his most absorbing book, published in 1954 - is his autobiography, which has been described as a geographical, historical, linguistic, and spiritual journey all in one: 'The Road to Mecca'. If spirituality or Islam does not interest you, then - read this book for its beautiful, vivid, captivating and brilliantly written prose. And if Islam or spirituality interests you, then you will truly find this remarkable book unlike no other and very much worth reading.

In 1980, after working on the book for about 17 years, mainly in Morocco; and Spain where he had retired in his last years, his other most known book: The Message of The Qur'an - a translation of the Noble Qur'an - was published. Although many Muslims - traditionalist scholars in particular - have pointed out mistakes in the translation, many people have considered Asad's translation of the Noble Qur'an, as the best and finest translation of The Book, into English, for non-Muslims and non-Arabic readers or speakers. As Explore the Qur'an states: No translation of the Holy Quran can truly reproduce the majesty of the Arabic original. There will always remain among readers a legitimate debate as to which translation comes closer to the meaning of Allah’s Words.......Muhammad Asad, a European convert to Islam, had profound knowledge of the Judeo-Christian tradition. His translation uses expressions that a Western reader will find very familiar. Judging by the reactions of recipients, the choice of the Muhammad Asad translation was a wise one.

+ Berlin to Makkah
+ Goodreads: Books by Muhammad Asad
+ Goodread: Quotes by Muhammad Asad
+ Sandbox
+ Al Jazeera World