The faith of Islam has touched Western elites also, who have contributed immensely to Islamic word. some of the names are Frithjof Schuon(about whom great literary personality T.S Eliot called best comparative religion scholar I have encountered),Lord Stanley(uncle of Betrant Russell), Maurice Baucile (embryologist and author), M.M Pickthall (novelist and famous translator of Quran), Rene Guonan (Metaphysics and comparative religion scholar), Martin Lings (one of the best biographer of Prophet SAW and Metaphysics expert), Keith L.Moore (biologist), Gary Millar(Mathematician),Murad Hoffman (diplomat,writer, former director information NATO) etc
One cannot miss the name of Mohammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weis), diplomat, writer, journalist, social critic, writer, linguist, and traveller. who has been rightly called 'Europes Gift to Islam' on his great services in the propagation of Islam both in orient as well as Occident.
Born in July(1318 A.H) 1900 A.D, in Lavan, a city in Austria (present da Ukraine), to a Jewish family grandfather was famous rabbi. He received early education at a local school, learned Hebrew, original old testament from Private tutors,talmud.At the age of fourteen he escaped from school and joined army under false name but his father traced him. Then his family moved to Vienna where he studied History of Art and Philosophy.After this he moved to Prague.in 1919 after the death of his mother moved to Berlin where he assisted renowned film director F.W Herman for couple of months. In 1921 he joined United Telegraph,a news agency and started his journalistic career.
It was in the year 1922 he visited Jauraselem to meet his uncle where he saw a Muslim praying which attracted him towards studying and discussing Islam. He started defending Islam without reciting kalima. In his biography 'Road To Mecca' he writes about the governor of Afghanistan who told him 'You have already become a Muslim without noticing it. Only a true Muslim would defend islam as earnestly as you are doing it'
It was in year 1926 he was traveling to Berlin in a train where he noticed all his fellow passengers looking unhappy though most of them looked rich. Then back home reading Quran chapter 102 Verse 1-8 he got an answer to it.
Mohammad Asad travelled extensively. During his stay in Saudi Arabia he developed close friendship with King Ibn saud. Later King employed him to clandestine mission to Kuwait on finance and guns that were following to Faysal Al-Darwish a rebel against Ibn Saud. Despite having comfortable life he left Saudi Arabia for intellectual pursuits to different parts of world. In 1930 he travelled to Northern Libya to meet Lion of desert Umer Mukhtar to know his ideology and reason of fight against Italy; then travelled to India (pre partition India) in 1932 he moved to Karachi and Amritsar then Lahore where he met poet and philosopher of East Allama Iqbal and had discussion on future of Islamic state. He was greatly impressed by Allama Iqbal. Then moved to Pathankot where he spent some years with Great Islamic scholar and founder of Jamaati Islami, Maulana Abu Ala Maudidi. In 1935 he visited Kashmir where he met Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah; in Kashmir he published and released first part of his book "sahih Al Bukhari – The early years of islam " few parts which he worked after this he lost in partition era and couldn't publish. In 1938 he became editor of a journal called "Islamic culture" in Hyderabad after the death of its editor, renowned scholar and famous translator and commentator M.M Pickthall. In 1948 he became director of Islamic reconstruction. After the creation of Pakistan he was appointed as head of Middle East division in foreign ministry. he resigned in 1952 to write his biography and other work. He then moved to Manhattan where he married fourth time and his part of this life was criticized by Maryam Jameels for not being reluctant fundamentalist and for being rationalist.
He wrote extensively and his major work include Road to Mecca (his autobiography) which discusses his life, travel, journey to Islam etc, Islam at crossroads (about west, Islam, spirituality, morality etc) both books have been inspiration for Maryam Jameelah to become Muslim,The Principles of state and government in islam(which discusses his concept is state,he believed in Islamic state believes on divine law not man made,criticised secularism on morality,ethics etc,how to elect Amir, how to govern state etc), The message of Quran(commentary and translation of Quran based on Rationality says about Miraj;night journey of Prophet SAW was mystic and spirit travelled,first scholar who translated first verse of Quran as "In the name of God, the most Gracious, the dispenser of Grace" not what other major scholars have translated it as "in the name of Allah the most the compassionate, the merciful" in a rational way, discussed jinns, kaafirs in rational way. Shaqq-ul-Qamr – splitting of moon – as phenomena of lunar eclipse Etc) Mohammad Asad's views on ijtihaad and fiqh were like Iqbal discusses in Reconstruction, – a bit what Gamidhi says for- which he was criticized by many scholars.
Mohammad Asad has been praised by most of the intellectuals and scholars. Some of them are Syed Hossein Nasr ,Murad Hoffman ,M.M Pickthall, Zillur Regiment, Hamid Enayat, GE Von Grunrbaum, Harry Zindar, Michael Wolfe and many others for his intellectual services. This great man will be always remembered for his services and contribution to world.