Mecca: The Sacred City
In Mecca: The Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar, the author uses Mecca to trace what he describes as an essential schism in Islam: namely, the conflict between the sacred, paradaisaical Mecca of belief and theory and imagination, and the secular, political, even sinful city and its very human inhabitants. Using the history of Mecca as a narrative structure, the author leads readers through a history of Islam generally, and traces the conflicts in the present day Islamic world back to that initial trouble of two Meccas: one sacred, one profane.
The genius of the author’s work lies in his opening the Islam of the faithful to non-believers. While Mecca: The Sacred City is clearly the work of a person of faith, the author begins, sustains, and concludes his narrative with personal questions to which all can relate. Who has not, with this author, sometime cried: “Why? Why do these people, who believe in the good things that I do, behave so very poorly?” It is the humanity of the author’s text that allows his guided tour of one of the world’s great religions to transcend religious and cultural boundaries; and that humanity brings the entire history to light in an engaging, thoughtful way.
Ziauddin Sardar provides a wonderful introduction to Islam that thoughtful readers of any faith or philosophical background will find invaluable in understanding the modern and historical Islamic world.