‘A beautifully rendered account… Sardar surveys modern Mecca with a love that is mixed with a profound sense of disappointment and loss. Yet the book that results is a major achievement and a hugely enjoyable and important study of one of the world’s great cities’.

–        The Observer



‘For the young man who grew up with the Ka’bah on the living room wall, and who spent part of the 1970s trying to promote a more sustainable hajj under the auspices of a Saudi university, the comedown has been terrible. Now Sardar, one of Britain’s most prominent liberal Muslims, is appalled by the Saudi state’s institutionalised discrimination against non-Saudi residents, its treatment of women “as chattels”, the beheadings that quietly happen on Friday, and the effluent that swills with apt symbolism around parts of the holy city. The House of Saud will not like this book.’

–  The Guardian



‘There is the sheer power of a man of belief publishing a book about the complexities of his faith and its adherents. Too much of our current discussion (and past battles) reduces believers to cardboard figurines that bear little resemblance to actual people. Sardar presents the sordid and painful legacy of the past – along with moments of sublime transcendence – refracted through the story of Mecca. He does so as a person attuned to the kaleidoscopic reality of being alive. Mecca may be long and a bit dense in parts, but so is life. And few books celebrate life, with joy and sadness, quite like this one does.’

–        The New Statesman



‘Authoritative…Sardar should be praised for his scholarly and well researched history of Mecca’

–        The Independent



‘A captivating history and memoir, a hymn of love to a place sacred to the world’s Muslims, soured by a family wholly corrupted by petrodollars’

–        The Spectator



‘Ziauddin Sardar…knows how to tell a story. He enlivens longueurs in the history with wit, robust judgement and a sprinkling of sexual escapades’.

–        The Times



‘Ziauddin Sardar is both fascinated and appalled by Islam’s holiest city. One of Britain’s best-known Muslim writers and commentators, he grew up in the Punjab with a fascination for the Kaaba, the huge brick cube, draped in black cloth, which is the centrepiece of Mecca’s Sacred Mosque.’

–        The Economist



‘Sweeping, entertaining and thought provoking’

–        The Asian Review of Books



‘Ziauddin Sardar does not disappoint…(he) brings lightness and humour to thorny issues… It is an act of courage’

–        Indian Express