Book review: The siege of Mecca


Summer is boring and really calm this year as if time has stopped. I recently finished a book which was really interesting to me since I did not know anything about the siege of Makkah that took place in 1979. The book is ‘The Siege of Mecca: The forgotten uprising in Islam’s holiest shrine and the birth of Al-Qaeda‘ by Yaroslav Trofimov. One word – Speechless. This book has been written in an excellent manner with to-the-point information and without any bias. As the title indicates, the book is about the siege of Makkah which took place in 1979 near the end of Hajj season. It was the start of a new Islamic century (1400) and because it was the start of a new century, many Muslims from around the world came to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage. It was somewhere around the last ten days of Hajj that Khana Kaaba was attacked by the Wahabi leader and his followers, Juhayman.

The surviving insurgents under custody of Saudi Authorities. c. 1980.

This book will take you through the events that caused the spread of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia under the regime of The Sauds. After the siege, communication of KSA with the rest of the world was deliberately cut off and no one knew what was happening. Even after the insurgents were caught and were being kept under-custody, The House of Saud tried to keep it a low-priority issue. Iran just got rid of its monarch regime with the help of USA and now was under the religious and political leader Ayatollah Khomeini who returned to Iran after staying in France. US embassies all around the world were being attacked by Muslim youth who thought that US was behind the Kaaba siege as US was the first to break the news of this uprising.

Many a times, it came to the point where the Saudi princes felt helpless and wanted to ask America or France to jump in but since non-Muslims can not enter Makkah or Madina, it was impossible. There was this interesting scene where Prince Sultan, the-then defence minister, grew frustrated and yelled at the group of soldiers in the mosque’s vicinity: “If you do not fight to defend the House of God, who will? Do you want me to bring in Pakistanis to do the fighting in your place?”. Quite interesting. We, infact, had a really good army. The book is quite amazing since it opens up all the facts and figures and the reasons that led to the establishment of  Al-Qaeda.

Give it a go!

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2 thoughts on “Book review: The siege of Mecca

  1. Thank you Pakeezah for acknowledging us, I will go for it. I will suggest you to read ” No God But God” by Reza Arslan too!

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