Within a few paragraphs of this extraordinary and beautifully written autobiography the reader recognizes he is immersed-profoundly so–in a timeless spiritual classic. ‘Ultimate questions’ do not vary over time; Asad’s insightful elucidation of these concerns and his inspiring personal solutions deeply move both heart and mind.
In common with so many, Asad had “drifted into a matter of fact rejection of all institutional religions.” He yearned for a life without the “carefully contained, artificial defenses which security-minded people love to build up around them,” where he could find for himself “an approach to the spiritual order of things.” He wondered if the European way of life-based on the betterment of economic and political conditions “was in its fundamentals, the only possible way.”
He had the courage to look elsewhere.
The grandson of a Central European Orthodox rabbi, Asad found his first “quiet gladness” in Taoism where truths were as a window opening onto a long lost home far from “all narrowness and self-created fears.” Asad regretted this “ivory tower” could not be lived in.
Against his father’s wishes he left the pursuit of a doctorate in Vienna to take up journalism. His fascinating travels took him to Jerusalem, Arabia, and India, and finally into service at the United Nations. In 1926 Asad embraced Islam. His account of his years in Arabia, his desert adventures, friendship with King Saud, and marriage there is truly gripping while being a great read set against the fascinating background following the first World War.
A timeless spiritual classic including rare period photographs. This gripping and insightful autobiography of an Austrian journalist, who early in the 20th century fully immersed himself in the life and faith of Arabia, permanently reorients the reader’s view of the world we live in.