By Abdar Rahman Koya & Ahmad Farouk Musa
Muhammad Asad was arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest Muslim thinkers from the West. However, those who have followed his career through his books and writings know that no contemporaneous Muslim intellectual has contributed more to understanding Islam and awakening Muslims or worked harder to build a bridge between the East and the West than Asad.
These unpublished letters showcase Asad’s intellectual and personal life, his relationship with family and friends, the agony he suffered while he was imprisoned at Ahmadnagar internment Camp during World War II, the fond memories of his years in Pakistan, the turbulent period of his life when false allegations were made against him after he resigned as Pakistan’s representative to the United Nations, and his marriage to Pola Hamida in New York. In his own words: ‘Very few people realize how I was treated at the time of my removal from the Pakistan Foreign Service, but it was an extraordinarily bitter experience.’
When Asad ended his short-lived career with the Pakistan foreign office in October 1952 because he was denied permission to marry Pola Hamida, his life took a new turn. Rumours circulated among the Pakistani press that he had committed apostasy and reverted to Judaism. He was also labelled as an agent of the Western powers. We learnt that one person who steadfastly supported him and defended his reputation was the late Maulana Abu’l-A’la al-Mawdudi, although Asad was never one of Jama‘at Islami’s ideologues. We also learnt that the funding arrangement for Asad’s Qur’anic translation project was made through the good office of the Muslim World League (Rābiṭah al-‘Alam al-Islāmī) and its representative office in Europe (Islamic Centre Geneva) which was headed by Dr Said Ramadan, the son-in-law of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn).
Leopold Weiss was born on 2 July, 1900; Muhammad Asad died on 20 February, 1992 and was buried in a cemetery in Granada, Spain. A compilation of his unpublished letters, this book provides a rare insight into the feelings and mind of this great reformer of Islam.
Publisher: Islamic Book Trust & Islamic Renaissance Front