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Mecca: The Sacred City Hardcover – October 21, 2014
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“One of the best-known Muslim public intellectuals in the world today . . . A pioneering writer on Islam.” ―The Guardian on Muhammad: All That Matters
“Sardar is funny, self-deprecating and humble . . . One of the wittiest intellectual figures commenting on Islam.” ―Islamic Voice on Muhammad: All That Matters
“Britain's own Muslim polymath.” ―The Independent
About the Author
Ziauddin Sardar was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hackney, near London. A writer, broadcaster, and cultural critic, he is one of the world's foremost Muslim intellectuals and author of more than forty-five books on Islam, science, and contemporary culture. He has been listed by Prospect magazine as one of Britain's top one hundred intellectuals. Currently he is visiting professor of postcolonial studies at City University; editor of Futures, a monthly journal on policy, planning, and futures studies; a columnist for the New Statesman; and a commissioner for the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
The beginning of the city stretches back to the time of legends, with the Kaaba installed by Adam and Abraham. It was a center for polytheism, and people were making pagan pilgrimages to it before Muhammad received his revelations emphasizing but one god. This did not endear him to those in power, who profited from the pilgrimages. The middle portion of Sardar’s book is mostly a long account of conflict between rich and poor, between families, tribes, religions, splinter sects, nations, and empires.Read more ›
Part memoir, mostly a well-written, accessible history, Sardar has written a book of great scoped and accessibility. He explores the history of Islam’s most sacred city from its pre-Islamic roots to its contemporary place in Saudi Arabia. In the process, he does not flinch from showing both the sublime and the ugly side of this important city.
Like all “holy” cities, there is a considerable gap between the Mecca of the religious imagination and the actual city. Sardar’s work really shows how large this gap is, and how harmful it is to Islam.
Finally, this book answers the call of many people of “where are the Muslim liberals?” The answer is right here, in Sardar and his book. Read it and enjoy this splendid accomplishment.
The author does express some strong personal opinions; e.g., around the Saudi modernization of the city and the holy sites to the detriment of historic buildings, architecture and neighborhoods, not to mention the surrounding of the “Sacred Mosque” by ugly concrete buildings and skyscrapers.
To his credit, Sardar does discuss slavery in Mecca, an Islamic institution that lasted there for more than 13 centuries from the first days of Islam until 1962, when Saudi Arabia banned the practice. (He does not mention that this was done in response to pressure from President John F. Kennedy in exchange for continued security guarantees.) The city had its own slave market. Most slaves came from black Africa: Abyssinia and Nubia.
The author does, however, make two false claims:
(1) He states that the Hajj is “the greatest gathering of humanity anywhere on earth” (xvi), but the Hindu Kumbh Mela can easily exceed Mecca’s three million carrying capacity by a factor of 10 or more.
(2) On page 105, he claims that “the original community founded by Muhammad in Medina had been a multi-religious community comprising Muslims, Jews and Christians and pagans. This kind of heterodoxy helped to maintain Islam’s great cities.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good one but face a bad experience with aramex courier services by which i have received it.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
A good read, explores the history of Mecca form pre-Islamic day to modern times. Separates the spiritual Mecca from the "real" Mecca and how they co-exist withe each other.Published 11 months ago by Rauf Adil
An excellent book with very rational interpretation of the doctrine and history.Published 14 months ago by Mohammad Nawaz
A very informative on the history of the region as it related to the specifics of Mecca, its rulers, and the tribal warfare surrounding itPublished 14 months ago by BostonSox
I won't beheading to Mecca anytime soon, so I'm sitting back and enjoying this erudite, artfully written, historical account of this sacred Saudi city.Published 16 months ago by Virgil
a fascinating yet ultimately depressing account of Mecca that was great for a reader who knew little of the placePublished 17 months ago by Alan R. Miles