This 440-page autobiography was recommended to me by a German-Afghan woman with whom I have breakfast every now and then so we can discuss the intersections of Islam and Christianity. I could not thank her enough for this phenomenal book recommendation and hope to see her again soon!
Have you ever arrived in an entirely new place and instantly felt a deep sense of homeness? This mysterious and beautiful sense of homeness stretches through Asad’s life and book. As an Austrian Jew writing for a German newspaper, Muhammad Asad traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time in the early decades of the last century. He imminently found resonance in the warm light of the Orient, the vastness of the desserts and the surrender of Muslims. He was destined to stay and immersed himself in every aspect of the new culture: he perfected the language, entered bonds of brotherhood and marriage, and converted to Islam. He writes in a way that makes you brew fresh mint tea, read slowly and have a conversation.
The vibrant and lively imagery of the book reveal to me that only the life of a traveler stays in motion and successfully escapes stagnation and slavery of sorts. Exiting conventions and other systems and escaping into nature is one way, talking with people of another bloodline one more, and surrendering to whatever comes around yet another to stretch the halls of our beings and reach for the More.
If the search for belonging implies that the human race is perpetually living in exile while on earth—I do not dare to say. However, as I, too, continue my search for meaning this year, I am encouraged by this incredible story to extend the orbits given to me by my ancestors and our Zeitgeist. So I study my Arabic vocabulary and save up for the next trip very soon!