Mecca the Blessed, Medina the Radiant
is an unprecedented photographic exploration of the most holy cities of Islam and the hajj, or annual pilgrimage during Ramadan, when more than a million faithful journey to Mecca's Great Mosque to commemorate the first revelation of the Qur'an (Koran).
This book allows both Muslims and those unfamiliar with the Islamic faith complete access to the holiest sites of one of the world's major religions, practiced by a quarter of the world's population but often misunderstood in the west.
Photographer Ali Kazuyoshi Namachi, a Muslim convert from Japan, garnered the full support of Saudi Arabian authoritiesâ€”rarely givenâ€”to shoot in cities where photography is strictly controlled and non-Muslims are not allowed.
An expansive work of photojournalism, Mecca the Blessed, Medina the Radiant
- 140 full-color, never-before-seen photographs
- Mystical places and scenes of Islam
- Breathtaking aerial photographs of the Arabian terrain
- Vistas of teeming crowds of worshippers surrounding the Kacbah, Mecca's sacred center
- Intense portraits of faithful Muslims in prayer
- Magnificent architecture reflecting the faith of the believers
- Archival illustrations
Text by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the most highly regarded scholars of Islam, enhances the stunning Islamic holy city photographs to illuminate many aspects of Islamic belief that have remained enigma to non-Muslimsâ€”until now. These photographs of the Muslim holy cities Mecca and Medina, taken by a Japanese convert, Ali Kazuyoshi Nomachi, are something new for most Westerners, and perhaps even for many Muslims. Non-Muslims are never allowed into Mecca, and it is almost unheard-of for religious and government leaders to allow such pictures to be taken. Most of these images were shot during the holy month of Ramadan, when many faithful are in Mecca and Medina on pilgrimage.
Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, has contributed an essay explaining the history and significance of the two cities. "Mecca and its twin city Medina flourish as the heart and sacred Center of the Islamic universe and will continue to do so as long as there are men and women who accept the truth of Lailaha illa'Llah and Muhammadun rasul Allah," he writes.
Nomachi has worked for National Geographic and Life, and his pictures have the information-packed clarity one might expect. There are fascinating images: literally hundreds of thousands of white-robed believers circling the Ka'bah, Mecca's sacred center; men ritually shaving one another's heads; tired families fasting; small children praying. Nomachi's pictures are oddly cool, but they convey the all-encompassing nature of the faith. Mecca the Blessed, Medina the Radiant will be especially thrilling to those Muslims still planning their pilgrimage.