His family, originally from Harran in Mesopotamia, emigrated with him to Ifriqiya. Asad studied in Medina with Malik ibn Anas, the founder of the Malikite school, and in Kufa with a disciple of Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafite tradition. He collected his views on religious law in the Asadiyya, which had great influence in Ifriqiya.
After his return to Ifriqiya he became a judge in Kairouan, where he soon came into conflict with the Aghlabid Emir Ziyadat Allah I (817-838) after criticising his luxurious and impious lifestyle. In order to get rid of this unwelcome critic, Ziyadat appointed Asad the leader of an expedition to Byzantine Sicily. In 827 Asad landed with a force of Arabs in Sicily and following a defeat of Byzantine troops proceeded to besiege Syracuse. However, the city could not be taken and Asad soon died of plague.