Saturday, November 17, 2007

Muhammad Asad

Hit and Run's commenter kolohe has recently asked me a few interesting questions about Islam. In the discussion, kolohe pointed me to a translation of the Qur'an by Dawood. Having not read that particular translation, I suggested that Muhammad Asad's commentary is probably way better. Admiring Asad myself, I gave kolohe some background about Asad that I thought to share with readers of Islamolibertarianism. Here it is:

I would rather trust Muhammad Asad's The Message of the Qur'an. I haven't read it, but I have read his Road to Mecca, which also gives great insight into the synergy between wahabism and the House of Saud. The book itself reads like a national geographic story. His writing is very elegant and reads like a story.

Asad's personal story (which he tells in The road to Mecca) is very interesting --way more interesting than T. E. Lawrence's. He was born Leopold Weiss (to a long line of rabbis) in 1900 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, led an intellectual (somewhat hedonistic) life in Germany and wrote for the Frankfurter Zeitung. At some point he decided to visit his uncle in the Holy Land, at which point he discovered Arab culture, and Islam.

His journeys are very interesting. Toping it all, he helped in the founding of Pakistan (!!!) and represented it in the UN for some time. He moved to Spain and died there in 1992. One of his more interesting views is that in Islam, the veil is not mandatory. Other than that he is religiously mainstream and is probably the best person to present the story of Islam to the West. More can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Actually, iih, the link I gave to amazon was just the first one that came up for me on a title search for 'koran.' I have not a clue what is considered a good or authoritative translation. I considered linking to one of these four titles , but wasn't sure if it would be seen as offensive rather than the intended purpose of self-deprecating snark.


iih said...


Not offensive at all :-) I have flipped through some of these at some point a few years ago, and thought that they werea great idea and the content was decently well-balanced. Not at all. And my apologizes for misunderstanding your original H&R post.

iih said...


Oh and thanks for your original inquiry on H&R, it lead me to this short post regarding Asad. I would not have written it if you hadn't asked. Thanks!

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