In the early years of the twentieth century, in the western city of Lvov, which belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, a Jewish lawyer from an ancient family was born a child whose parents celebrated young, before he grew up and taught art and philosophy at the University of Vienna, and worked as a journalist and correspondent in the Arab countries.
Leopold Weiss worked in Berlin with a branch of the United Press of America, and in 1921 he became a cultural editor for the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.
The press led him to Jerusalem, where he moved to live in the time of the British Mandate on Palestine, and there wrote articles that highlighted the early Arab concern about the project to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but instead of focusing on covering political events in the Middle East he went to study Islam, and decided - on a visit to Berlin 1926 - He becomes a Muslim with the name "Muhammad Asad", and his wife soon joins him.
Muhammad Asad lived in Arab and Islamic countries, then settled in the Indian subcontinent, and after his Islam he traveled to perform the Hajj pilgrimage and settled in Medina, and he met the founder of Saudi Arabia and its first kings, Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and worked as a consultant to him.
Asad and the great Indian thinker Muhammad Iqbal contributed to the establishment of an Islamic state independent of India, which was later named Pakistan in which he acquired his nationality and held several positions in it, the last of which was the position of Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations in the early fifties of the last century, before he stepped down and devoted himself to writing.
In 1952, he resigned from his job and left New York for Switzerland, where he remained for 10 years, devoted to writing and writing, then moved to Tangier, Morocco, where he spent 20 years.
The road to Mecca
Asad narrated in his book "The Road to Mecca" the years he spent in the Arabian Peninsula before moving to India, and wrote in the introduction to his book describing it as "the exciting years I spent traveling almost all the countries of the region, from the extreme desert of Libya to the covered Pamers highlands Ice in Afghanistan, between the Bosphorus and the Arabian Sea. "
He elaborated on a trip from the 23 days he spent in the summer of 1932 that included important spiritual and philosophical reflections that he wrote in his book.
Asad said that the Arabian Peninsula, which he portrayed in his book, no longer exists. Its unity and majesty have declined in light of the massive flow of oil and gold that oil has brought, considering that its great simplicity has disappeared and with it many unique things.
Muhammad Asad described the pain he was suffering when he mentioned his desert journey in which he supervised death in his final years, saying that it is like "an irreversible loss" as he put it.
In his book, he expressed his understanding of local cultures, considering that religion transcends individual and personal logic to become part of the cultural, social, political and spiritual life of these societies.
The book is divided into parts in which a lion discussed his life and childhood, how he worked in the press, his adventures and his meetings with influential figures that he met.
He explained his religious and faith transformations, and he addressed in particular the concept of instinct among Muslims "the Islamic concept of human nature", and his reflections on the spirituality that affects the lives of Muslims.
Palestine and the Arab world
Muhammad Asad's early interest in the East, the Arabs, and Palestine was a major factor in changing the course of his life, his convictions, and his ideas, and after his visit to Palestine in 1922 he wrote a series of articles - considered by Jews to be anti-Semitic - in which he warned Arabs of the plans of Jewish immigrants.
There, he conducted a "storm" interview with the president of the World Zionist Congress, Chaim Weizmann, years before he became Muslim.
After his conversion to Islam, Asad set out to defend Islam and respond to the suspicions raised around him, and tried to bridge the gap between the Islamic and Western civilizations in his works, which were described by German Muslim thinker Murad Hoffman as and he accompanied the gift of the West to Islam.
In 2008, the Austrian capital honored the efforts of its late citizen, Muhammad Asad, by promoting cultural dialogue between the Islamic world and the West, and gave his name to a street in the United Nations square, and participated in the production of a documentary entitled "The Road to Mecca", which takes inspiration from the biography of the late Muslim thinker.
The German capital Berlin followed the example of its Austrian counterpart by honoring a lion and establishing a memorial symbol in his name in the middle of it, next to the house he lived in in the 1920s.