It is hard to laud too much the accomplishment of Mecca: The Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar.
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.