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One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries…

One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the…

by Michael Wolfe

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A fascinating book. Wolfe reprints excerpts from accounts of the Hajj beginning with a Persian writing in 1050, ending with his own account written in 1990. The account of how Mecca changed over the years, the changes in the attitudes toward the Hajj, and the emotions of the pilgrims themselves is riveting. A unique book, especially important and interesting in this age of Islam-bashing. I hope to read some of these accounts in full in the future, especially Burton’s, Burckhardt’s, and Battuta’s. ( )
1 vote baobab | Nov 16, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802135994, Paperback)

A journey to Mecca, the Hajj, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, an undertaking that every Muslim should attempt at least once in his or her life. By leaving their homes and possessions and taking to the road to travel to the birthplace of Islam, Muslims are reminded that all humans are equal before God. It's no wonder, then, that the Hajj has been a central theme of Islamic travel-writing since the 7th century, A.D.

One Thousand Roads to Mecca is a collection of more than 20 accounts of the Hajj spanning ten centuries. The writers collected in this anthology reflect the geographic diversity of Islam. These pilgrims come from all over the world: Morocco, India, Persia, England, Italy, and the United States. They travel by boat and camel, on foot and horseback and, most recently, by airplane; many suffered all the hardships and dangers attached to a long pilgrimage of months or even years through deserts and over mountains, across lands populated by brigands and thieves. But along with the hazards are descriptions of of Cairo and Damascus at the height of their glory during the medieval period and anecdotes and observations that render the cosmopolitan nature of the pilgrims. In addition to the writings of Muslim pilgrims, there are also several accounts by non-Muslim westerners who, by hook or by crook, gained access to the forbidden city of Mecca and then wrote about it. One Thousand Roads to Mecca is both classic travel literature at its best and a wonderful introduction to the tenets and practices of a frequently misunderstood religion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:16 -0400)

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