Review: Three Thousand Miles for a Wish by Safiya Hussain

I read this book as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 – #13 Read a book that is set in the Middle East.

Three Thousand Miles for a Wish is the story of a young British woman who has suffered a difficult relationship breakup. She doesn’t know how to handle the situation and becomes very depressed about it; drinking, going out and neglecting her faith. As a last chance to redeem herself, she decides to complete the Hajj pilgrimage with her parents.

The book contained a very detailed account of the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. I had previously thought that the story might be a little boring but actually it’s an incredible journey and a very well written and honest account. There is such a real risk of death when completing Hajj that makes the novel so dramatic – in places it was a real page turner. I found it amazing that so many people complete such a difficult journey .

As a non Muslim I think that reading this book will be the closest that I get to seeing what Hajj is like. I thought the author did a great job of explaining all the rituals and getting the reader to fully understand what happens and why.

However, I struggled with the religious fervour element of the book. In my opinion It seems like the author has some troubling issues that she needs to fully explore with a doctor or therapist. I sensed that she had turned her depression into anger and was still coming to terms with what had happened. I was concerned that she seemed to believe that by devoting her life to Allah it would magically make her problems go away. I had no issue with her turning to her faith as a source of strength but she seemed to believe that she could just pray for things that she wanted instead of asking for the strength to make them happen for herself. There still seems to be a lot of hatred within her regarding her ex which she seems to use religion to mask – she talks about forgiving him because Allah has told her to but I think she really needs to forgive him because she actually wants to. I worry that if she doesn’t get what she’s prayed for she won’t be able to cope.

I also struggled with the way that the author accepted as gospel everything that she was told in relation to the way that she was expected to live her life. She seems extremely worried that she will go to hell despite her devotion to Allah and this seems to have a very negative impact on her mental state. Again, I though this was indicative of the author needing professional help and made for some challenging reading.

Despite finding it difficult to read about someone who is obviously depressed and not getting help, I thought that the author gave a great first person perspective on Hajj. I did notice a few typos and a couple of bits that would benefit from editing but overall I thought that the book was quite well written. 

Overall rating: 6.5/10.

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