Lev Nussimbaum (1905-42) was born into a wealthy Russian Jewish family in Baku. When he was 16. his parents fled Azerbaijan to escape Bolshevik Jews’ revolution to Iran, Turkey, France and finally settled in Germany. During his journey, he was attracted to Islamic history, and according to some sources converted to Islam in 1922 in Germany.
He wrote book Mohammad: The Last Great Prophet, a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) under pseudonym Essad Bey. He also authored several novels under the pen name Kurban Said.
“Mohammad was a prophet but he never performed a miracle. He was not a mystic; he had no formal schooling; he didn’t begin his mission until he was forty. When he announced that he was the Messenger of God, bringing the word of true religion, he was ridiculed and labeled lunatic. Children tripped him and women threw filth upon him. He was banished from his native city, Mecca, and his followers were stripped of their worldly goods and sent to desert after him. When he had been preaching ten years, he had nothing to show for it but banishment, poverty and ridicule. Yet before another ten years had passed, he was dictator of all Arabia, ruler of Mecca, and head of a new world religion, which was to sweep to the Danube and the Pyrenees before exhausting the impetus he gave it. That impetus was three-fold: the power of words, the efficacy of prayer and man’s kinship with God,” Essad Bey wrote.
“The Koran, the revealed Word of God, was the closest thing to miracle, in Mohammad’s life. He had not been a poet; he had no gift of words. Yet the verses of Koran, as he received them and recited them to the faithful, were better than any verses which the professional poets of the tribes could produce. This, to the Arabs, was a miracle,” Bey added.
I’m afraid Essad Bey needed a lot more to learn about the re-emergence of Islam (according to Holy Qur’an, all prophets from Adam to Jesus, preached Islam, submission to Allah) in 610 CE. The Prophet is credited with several miracles; the parting of Moon, and his journey to the Heaven from Jerusalem to meet his Creator (Allah) in person. Holy Qur’an is God’s Final Testament, and not a miracle by the Prophet (pbuh). Furthermore, he was not the ‘dictator’ of all Arabia. Muslims brought entire Arabia under Muslim rule 100 years after the death of the Prophet (pbuh).
Lev Nussimbaum is not much known in the Muslim world as is his Austro-Hungarian-born Jewish brother Leopold Weiss (1900-1992), who converted to Islam and adopted Muslim name Muhammad Assad (in Arabic, Assad means Lion or Leo in Hebrew). Weiss became fluent in Hebrew and Aramaic at age 14, in addition to his mother tongues German and Polish. He visited Palestine as journalist where he met Israel’s first Russian-born president Chaim Weizmann and blasted him for Zionists’ anti-Muslim policies. Assad livid in British occupied India for nearly two decades and was involved in Muslim struggle for a separate Islamic state. Here he learned English, Urdu, Persian and Arabic languages. In August 1947, Assad moved to newly establish state of Pakistan and later worked as a Pakistani diplomat in Washington. He died in Granada, Spain.
The other famous Jewish convert was NY-born Margaret Marcus (1934-2012) who was introduced to Islam at age of 19 by arguing with her rabbi over status of women in Judaism. Noticing her interest in Islam, her father Dr. Marcus wrote a letter to Sayyid Maududi, founder-Ameer of Jama’at-e-Islami and author of 108 books on Islam including a tafseer of Holy Qur’an and a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), in Lahore if the later can tutor his daughter. Sayyid Maududi agreed to adopt Margaret as his third daughter. The 24-year-old Margaret left New York for Lahore and lived in Sayyid Maududi’s house in Ichera, Lahore – where she converted to Islam an took Muslim name, Maryam Jameelah (beautiful Saint Mary, in Urdu) chosen by Sayyid Maududi who later carried an arranged marriage for her with a Muslim businessman in Lahore. She authored 30 books on Islam and critique of Western culture. She died as mother of four boys.
Deborah Baker’s 2011 book, The Convert, is a Zionist narrative of Margret’s journey from Judaism to Islam. Self-taught, untraveled, and unlearned in any foreign language, Margaret Marcus had sacrificed the supposed freedoms and privileges of a Western lifestyle to live in upright exile in Pakistan, Deborah Baker writes.
Elizabeth Kiem, a Zionist Jew author try to settle some of her ‘issues’ with Lev Nussimbaum at The Morning News.
Several dozen world scholars, from professor Karen Armstrong, Michael Hart to Deepak Chopra, have written the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) biographies but the best biography in English language is no doubt by British author Martin Lings (1909-2005), who taught Shakespearean literature at Cairo University for 12 years. Lings’ life of Muhammad (1983), unlike any other, is based on Arabic sources of 8th and 9th centuries. With an unusual gift for narrative, Lings adopts a style that reflects both the simplicity and grandeur of the story he tells. Lings was impressed by critique of western civilisation by the French Muslim writer, René Guénon. Lings was decorated by Pakistan’s 2nd military dictator, Gen. Zial-ul-Haq for the Prophet’s biography.
Lings tell the story of the 9-year-old Muhammad accompanying his uncle Abu Talib’s business trip to Syria. The caravan made a stop at Bostra, a Christian village. The local monk Bahira, who was well-versed in old scriptures and believed that the last biblical prophet will appear in the region. During caravan’s stop, Bahira noticed that a cloud which was moving over the caravan, suddenly stopped over the tree beneath which some members of the caravan took shelter. He approached the caravan and invited all of them to his cell for meal. “So they came to his cell, but despite what he had said, they left Muhammad to look after their camels and their baggage. As they approached, Bahira scanned their faces one by one. But he could see nothing which correspond to the description in his book, nor did there seem to be any man amongst them who was adequate to the greatness of the two miracles. Perhaps they had not all come,” Lings wrote.
When Bahira was told Muhammad being left behind. He asked them to bring the boy. “One glance at the boy’s face was enough to explain the miracles to Bahira; and looking at him attentively, throughout the meal he noticed many features of both face and body which corresponded to what was in his book. So when they had finished eating, the monk went to his youngest guest and asked him questions about his way of life and about his sleep, and about his affairs in general. Muhammad readily informed him of these things for the man was venerable and the questions were courteous and benevolent; nor did he hesitate to draw off his cloak when finally the monk asked if he see his back. Bahira had already felt certain, but now he was doubly so, for there, between his shoulders, was the very mark he expected to see, the seal of prophethood even as it was described in his book, in the selfsame place. He turned to Abu Talib; “What kinship hath this boy with thee?” he said. “He is my son,” said Abu Talib. “He is not thy son,” said the monk; “it cannot be that this boy’s father is alive.” “He is my brother’s son,” said Abu Talib. “Then what of his father?” said the monk. “He died,” said the other, “when the boy was still in his mother’s womb.” “That’s the truth,” said Bahira. “Take thy brother’s son back to his country, and guard him against the Jews, for by God, if they see him and know of him that which I know, they will contrive evil against him. Great things are in store for this brother’s son of thine.”, Lings wrote.
Bahira was right. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) died in 632 CE as result of food poisoning by a Jewish noblewoman during a peace-treaty at Jewish settlement of Khaibar in present-day Syria.