The founder of the Islamic State of Pakistan

Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss) played a prominent role in the creation of Pakistan.


As a Jew from Lviv became the founder of the Islamic State of Pakistan

August 02, 2019 (, Russia) – Although the official “founding fathers” of Pakistan revered Muhammad Ali Jinn, the first head of state, and Allama Muhammad Iqbal, a popular poet and ideologue, Muhammad Asad also played a prominent role in the creation of this State. The fact that its meaning is not strongly advertised should be seen as a tribute to “nativism.” After all, the original name of Muhammad Asad – Leopold Weiss, and he was a Jew from Western Ukraine.

Path to fame

The ancestors of Leopold Weiss on the paternal side were hereditary rabbis in Chernivtsi. Leopold’s father, Karl, moved to Lviv and began to practice law. But the young Leopold discovered a craving for spiritual subjects; at the age of 13 he already understood the intricacies of Jewish theology. At 14, when World War I began, Leopold, driven by a patriotic impulse, fled to the front in the Austrian army, but was sought by the police and returned to his father.

During the war, Leopold’s parents moved to Vienna. He himself entered the University of Vienna in 1918, but in 1922, without completing the course, he unexpectedly moved to Berlin to try his hand at journalism.

In the same year of 1922, two important events happened that directed the life of an aspiring journalist. In Berlin, he met with his wife, Maxim Gorky, and based on interviews with her, he wrote a series of vivid and heartfelt articles about the famine in Russia, calling on all civilized people to help the starving Russian peasants. These articles immediately created Weiss widely known in journalistic circles.

The second event – Weiss received from Jerusalem an invitation from his Zionist uncle, a famous Freudian psychoanalyst, to visit him. Leopold has a plan to collect material for sensational reporting. He signed a contract with the largest German newspaper, Frankfurter Zeitung, and in 1923 went to Palestine in company with the artist Elsa Schiemann, who was 15 years older than him, and her son. The joint journey gave birth to love, and on returning to Berlin in 1924, Weiss married Elsa.

Going to Islam

Following his trip in 1924, Weiss published the book “Unromantic East” in Frankfurt am Main. The book impressed with the vivid descriptions of the modern realities of the Middle East and at the same time the “discovery of the soul” of Muslims unknown to the European reader. As the modern German Islamic publicist Murad Wilfried Hoffmann writes, Weiss “was in love with everything Arab and romantically fascinated by him … For him, the Arabs are ‘blessed’and archetypically noble … Asad is one of those Western people who, with great effort, tried to turn into ‘real Arabs’.”

Weiss, on impressions of his trip and especially meetings with fellow believers – Zionist Jews who mastered Palestine – came to a personal conviction in the deadlock and uselessness of not only the Zionist project, but also the Jewish faith. The ancient “Jews, Weiss thought, lost Palestine … because they betrayed their moral principles and their God,” Hoffmann writes.

One can only guess what depth the fracture should have happened in the soul of the grandson of the hereditary rabbi, who knew the Torah by heart from childhood. It is very likely that the general spiritual crisis of Europe after the First World War was expressed in it. In Muslims, Weiss saw the opposite of the Europeans, mired in consumerism and the pursuit of material goods.

“Islam seems to me to be the ideal architectural building,” Weiss quotes Islamic Encyclopedia, “all its parts are organically conceived and organically support each other, there is nothing superfluous and artificial in it.”

The most important consequence of the trip was the gap Weiss with the faith of their ancestors. In 1926, in Germany, he converted to Islam. His example was followed by his wife and stepson.


An Islamist or an OGPU agent?

The very next year, Muhammad Asad (as Leopold Weiss became known after his conversion to Islam) made the hajj to Mecca. At the time of the Hajj, his wife died, but the new follower of the prophet quickly consoled himself by marrying the daughter of a local sheikh. The Arab nobility aroused curiosity and respect that a Jew, fully imbued with European culture, decided to appeal to their faith. Assad used it to make new useful connections and gain authority among the new co-religionists. At the same time, he did not break ties with Europe. His articles on the Middle East, appealing for sympathy for the national liberation aspirations of the Arabs, had a great success among the Western public.

The irony of fate: soon Hitler came to power in Germany, and all the relatives of Assad died in the Nazi concentration camps, as they were Jews. At the same time, Hitler tried to use the national movement of the Arabs for his own purposes, and from this point of view, Assad could be useful to him. However, as if anticipating this, Assad decided in 1932 to change the field of activity, and from the Arab Middle East he moved to British India.

Curious detail. In 1928, while serving the Saudi king Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud, Assad brought upon himself the suspicion of the British intelligence services of his possible connections with Soviet agents in the Middle East.

The father of modern multiculturalism

The Indian movement against the British colonialists from the very beginning developed in two directions: both the integration of all the peoples inhabiting India and their division. Indian Muslims, compactly inhabiting the north-west of the country and Bengal, sought to distinguish themselves from the general movement. There were serious reasons for this: the radical wing of the Indian National Congress argued that Islam is the religion of the conquerors, and there should be no place for it in a future independent India.

Arriving in India, Muhammad Asad met with Iqbal, who had previously promoted the image of Lenin as the “liberating angel” among Muslims. Soon Assad became a close associate of the leader of Indian Muslims, Jinna. As an experienced journalist, Assad has been extremely helpful in organizing the regular press of the Muslim League. During World War II, he was interned by the British authorities as a citizen of enemy Germany, which further increased his popularity in the Muslim community.


After granting independence to Pakistan, Muhammad Asad wrote the country’s constitution, and in 1951 he was appointed the first representative of Pakistan to the UN. While in New York in the diplomatic service, Assad married a third time for a young Polish woman, seducing her into Islam and sending her aged second wife to her Saudi father. The whole subsequent life of the rabbi’s grandson proceeded abroad. In Islamic countries, he was known as a professor at Cairo University Al-Azhar, a profound shari’a scholar, and in the West as a translator of Arabic and Arabic classical works, the ideologue of Islam as a “religion of peace and love” compatible with Western values of democracy and human rights.

By Yaroslav Butakov

Description of source: A news aggregator, covering events of the counties of Central Asia. Country of origin: Russia

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