Der Gottesstaat des Esad Bey: Eine Muḥammad-Biographie aus der Sicht eines jüdischen Konvertiten zum Islam unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Dimension des Politischen

  • Farid Hafez


Esad Bey’s theocratic state. A Muḥammad biography from the perspective of a Jewish convert to Islam with special consideration for the political dimension.

This paper analyses the political dimension of the Muḥammad biography written by Esad Bey (1905–1942), a.k.a. Leo Noussimbaum, a Jewish convert to Islam, who lived and worked as a writer in Berlin/Germany. Esad Bey, a Baku-born (Azerbaijan) Jew, who became a Muslim in an early stage of his life, had written 16 books at the age of 30, one of which became a world-bestseller. Esad Bey was a mostly unkown public figure until Tom REISS finished the first well researched biography in 2008; yet he still continues to relatively unkown to Muslim audience. The biography of Muḥammad was the second biography of Esad Bey, following his initial biography on Stalin.
The biography, that was published in 1932 in German language, is highly influenced by it’s time, the concurring ideologies of fascism and communism as well as the pan-Islamist thinking of Esad Bey. In a time of social assimilation of Jews, Esad Bey chose to emphasize his Muslim identity inwardly as well as outwardly through wearing the traditional Ottoman Fez. The biography Mohammed is the product of a sīrah influenced by the traditional writing of Muslims and that of Orientalists. On one side, Esad Bey tries to make his Western readership of the 1930s more sympathetic to Islam, while on the other side it reads very much as a cry to Muslim political renewal. Focus of his narration is the state that is characterized in many different ways (theocratic, despotic, socialist, democratic, etc.). This papers aims at analyzing his under-standing of the theocratic democratic Islamic state as told in his biographical writing.