Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

The Qur'ānic Exegesis of Muhammad Asad: The Mind, the Method and the Magnum-Opus


This article critically investigates the Qur’ānic exegesis and the methodology of Leopold Weiss aka Muhammad Asad (d. 1992), a prominent Muslim scholar of the last century. The exegesis addressing the Western intellectual audience is considered by many to be among the best in the English Language. The work inculcates traditional exegesis as well as traditional hermeneutics producing a contemporary interpretation. His work is controversial – well received by the academia attributed to ingenious scholarship, criticised by conservative Muslims for alleged neo-rationalistic tendencies. The work was labelled ‘unorthodox’ by neo-conservatives while banned by the Saudi Government as ‘heretical’, which led the work to become unpopular. The article examines the criticisms and his produce against mainstream sources. It argues that the exegesis in examination is able to withstand its criticisms, and further, rank among the best of its kind.


Muhammad Asad, Leopold Weiss, Quran Exegesis, Hermeneutics, Tafsir



Al-Azami, M. Mustafa. The History of the Qur’ānic Text: From Revelation to Compilation. KSA: Azami Publishing House, 2014.
Ali, A, Yūsuf. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’ān. USA: Amana Publications, 2014.
Ahmad, D. Showkat. “Muhammd Asad’s approach to Shariah: An exposition.” Journal of Islamic Thought and Civilisation 5, no. 2 (2015).
Al Jazeera, “A Road to Mecca”, Al Jazeera, Dec 18, 2012.
Akbar, Ali. “The theory of Naskh”, 3rd International Conference on Arabic Studies and Islamic Civilization, (March 2006). (Accessed April 04, 2019).
Al-Ashqar, Umar S. Islamic Creed Series, vol. 1, Riyadh: IIPH, 2014.
Al-Hilali, M. T. The Noble Qur’ān. KSA: King Fahd Printing Press, 2014.
Al-Imam, A. Ali. Variant Readings of the Qurán: A critical study of their historical and linguistic origins.USA: IIIT, 2006.
Al-Qaradāwī, Yūsuf. Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy. USA: IIIT, 2006.
Al-Qaradāwī,Yūsuf. Fiqh of Priorities. Cairo: New Vision, 2012.
Abū ʿAbdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī. Al-Shāfi’ī’s Risála. Translated by Khadduri. M. UK: The Islamic Texts Society, 1997.
Abū al-Fidā ad-Dīn Ismāīl Bin Umar Bin Kathīr al-Qurashi al-Busrawi. Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr. KSA: Darussalam, 2000.
Al-Sinan, H. & Al-Anjari, F. Ahl al-Sunna: The Ash’ārīs – The testimony and proofs of the scholars. Rotterdam: Sunni Publications, 2016.
Al-Sinan, H., Al-Anjari F. Ahl al-Sunna: The Ash’ārīs – The testimony and proofs of the scholars. Rotterdam: Sunni Publications, 2016.
Al-Suyūtī, Jalāl al-Dīn. The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur’ān. Translated by Algar Hamid. UK: Garnet Publishing, 2011.
Aremco World, “Berlin to Makkah: Muhammad Asad’s journey into Islam.” Aremco World, Janurary – February 2002. (Accessed February 18, 2018).
Asad, Muhammad. Islam at the crossroads. Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus, 1934.
Asad, Muhammad. Sahih Al-Bukhari. KL: Islamic Book Trust, 2002.
Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’ān. Gibraltar: Dar Al Andalus, 1980.
Asad, Muhammad. The Principles of State and Government in Islam. KL: Islamic Book Trust, 2007.
Asad, Muhammad. The road to Makkah. Dellhi: Islamic Book Service, 2004.
Asad, Muhammad. This Law of ours – and other essays. KL: Islamic Book Trust, 2001.
Asad, Talal. “Muhammad Asad between Religion and Politics”. Islam & Science 10, 1(2012): 77-88.
Abū Zahra, M. The Four Imams. UK: Dar Al-Taqwa, 2001.
Abū Zayd, N. Hamid. Rethinking the Qur’ān: Towards a Humanistic Hermeneutics. Amsterdam: SWP Publishers, 2004.
Abū Abdullah al-Qurtubi. Tafsir al-Qurtubi – Classical Commentary of the Holy Qur’an.Translated by Bewly. A. UK: Dar al-Taqwa, 2003.
Campanini, Massimo. Philosophical Perspectives on Modern Qur’ānic Exegesis: Key Paradigms and Concepts. UK: Equinox Publishing, 2016.
Denffer, Von Ahmad. Ulum al-Qurán:An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qurán.UK: The Islamic Foundation, 1994.
Duderija, Adis. “The Question of Salvation of Non-Muslims: The Exegesis of Muhammad Asad.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 54, no. 3, 289-297 (Fall 2015).
Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “Skepticism”, Stanford, June 02, 2015.
English Oxford Living Dictionaries, “Algebra.” Oxford Dictionaries, (Accessed April 15, 2018).
Gleave, Robert. Islam and Literalism. UK: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.
Group of Scholars. “Open Letter to al-Baghdadi.”, letter to Baghdadi 4 (2014).
Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel. Understanding the Qurán: Themes and Style: NY: I. B. Tauris, 2011.
Haleem, M. A. S. Abdul. Exploring the Qur'an: Context and Impact. UK: I. B. Tauris, 2017.
Haleem, M. A. S. Abdul. The Qur’ran – A new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Hasan, Ahmad. “The theory of Naskh.” Islamic Studies 10, no. 1, 184 (June 1965).
Hasan, P. A. Rifai. “The Political Thought of Muhammad Asad” MA diss., Concordia University, Montreal, 1998. Retrieved from:
Hussein, Abdul-Raof. In Schools of Qur'anic exegesis - genesis and development. NY: Routledge, 2010.
Hussein, Abdul-Raof. Theological approaches to Qur’ānic Exegesis. NY: Routledge, 2012.
Ibn Kathīr, Ismaīl. Tafsīr ibn Kathīr. Abridged by Safiur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri. KSA: Darussalam, 2000.
Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmad. An introduction to the Principles of Tafsīr. Translated by Morgan. S. A. Sydney: Islaam Publications Intl, 2001.
Jafar, Ifttah. “Modern Qur'anic Exegesis: A Comparative Study of the Methods of Muhammad Abduh and Rashīd Ridā” MA diss., McGill University, Montreal, 1998. Retrieved from:
Jaffer, Tariq. Rāzī: Master of Qur’ānic Interpretation and Theological Reasoning. NY: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Jeyad, Dar. Summarize of Research of The Tenth World Conference on Scientific Signs in the Qur’an and Sunnah. KSA: Muslim World League, 2011.’ān_and_Sunnah_1432_2011.pdf
Kafrawi, Shalahudin. “Fakr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s Methodology in Interpreting the Qur’an” Master Diss., McGill University, Motreal, 1998,
Kamali, M. Hashim. A Textbook of Hadīth Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification and Criticism of Hadīth. UK: ITS, 2014.
Kamali, M. Hashim. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.UK: ITS, 2003.
Kamali, M. Hashim. Sharí’ah Law: An Introduction. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2008.
Kidwai, Abdur R. “A Survey of English Translations of the Qur’ān”, IlmGate, 1987.’ān/.
Merinews (Feb 16, 2011). The book ‘The message of the Qurán’ is controversial and topical. Retrieved from:’ān-is-controversial--topical/15843127.shtml
Mir, Mustansir. Coherence in the Qurán: A Study of Islahi’s Concept of Nazm in Tadabbur-i Qur’ān. KL: Islamic Book Trust, 2011.
Nasr, S. Hussein. The study Qur’ān. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.
Nyazee, Imran A. K. Islamic Jurisprudence. Malasia: TOP, 2003.
Pakistan Defense (Nov 10, 2011). How Jewish born Leopold became one of the drafters of Pak constitution. Retrieved from:
Qadhi, Yasir, “On Salafi Islam”, MuslimMatters, 2014.
Qadhi, Yasir. An Introduction to the Qurán. UK: Al Hidayah Publishing, 1999.
Firestone, Reuven. "Abraham's Son as the Intended Sacrifice: Issues in Qur'anic Exegesis". Journal of Semitic Studies, 1(1989): 95-132.
Saeed, Abdullah. Interpreting the Qurán: Towards a contemporary approach. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Saeed, Abdullah. The Qur’ān – An introduction. New York: Routledge, 2008.
Saeed, Abdullah. Reading the Qur’an in the twenty-first century – A contextualist approach. USA: Routledge, 2014.
Saleem, Muhammad T. “The English Translations of the Holy Qur’an: A Critique.” Al-Idah 27, p. 83 (Dec 2013).
Saleem, Muhammad T. “The English Translations of the Holy Qur’an: A Critique.” Al-Idah 27, p. 83 (Dec 2013).
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “Ancient Skepticism”, Stanford, May 31, 2014. (Accessed March 07, 2018).
Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, “Skepticism”, Stanford, June 02, 2015. (Accessed March 07, 2018).
Stoddart, William. Mateus Soares de Azevedo, “The Perennial Philosophy is not for fools —and neither is Christianity”,, (Accessed March 07, 2018)
Ullah, Kifayat. “AL-KASHSHĀF: AL-ZAMAKHSHARῙ’S (D. 538/1144) MUʻTAZILITE EXEGESIS OF THE QURʼĀN” Phd diss., Georgetown University, Washington, 2013,
Usmani, M. Taqi. An approach to the Qur’ānic Sciences. Pakistan: Darul Ishaát, 2000.
Williams, Michael. “Doubt”, Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.
Winter, Tim. Classical Islamic Theology. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.