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My Days in Mecca

Ahmad Suba'i, edited and translated by Deborah S. Akers and Abubaker A. Bagader
My Days in Mecca
ISBN: 978-1-935049-11-1
ISBN: 978-1-935049-80-7
2009/125 pages/LC: 2009002501
A FirstForumPress Book

"This autobiography of pioneering Saudi literary figure Ahmad Suba’i offers a glimpse into life in Mecca prior to the transformation of the town into a large city.... We are offered intimate glimpses of family and school life, the flow of pilgrims, local communities, and the aspirations and frustrations of young boys as they matured into manhood.... I highly recommend the book."—Abdul Haqq Zamouri, University of Tunisia

"A gem of a book.... The narrative is highly informative, providing insights into the factors that influenced Suba’i’s life and took him on a journey that enabled him to find his calling as a pioneering Saudi literary figure. Most delightful is his depiction of events in his life and the trials and tribulations of his family, friends, and teachers.... This is a remarkable work."—Lamia Baeshan, King Abdul-Aziz University


Ahmad Suba'i's autobiography is the story not only of an Arab boy growing up in Saudi Arabia at the turn of the twentieth century—to become a noted writer, educator, and social critic—but also of a place, Mecca, and of the world of the traditional quranic school of the time.

Contextualizing the work, the editors have provided information about Suba'i's life and work, an essay on traditional quranic education in twentieth-century Mecca, and a glossary of Arabic terms.


Deborah S. Akers, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Miami University, and Abubaker A. Bagader, professor of sociology at King Abdul Aziz University, have collaborated in the editing and translation of Oranges in the Sun: Stories from the Arabian Gulf and Voices of Change: Short Stories by Saudi Arabian Women Writers, as well as several other collections.


  • A Note on the Life and Works of Ahmad Suba'i (1905-1984)—AA. Bagader.
  • The Kuttab: Traditional Quranic Education in Early Twentieth-Century Mecca—D.S. Akers.
  • In the Kuttab.
  • The Fortunate Ones.
  • Abjad-Hawaz (the ABCs).
  • Celebration in the Kuttab.
  • Auntie Hassinah.
  • Kuttabs and Teachers.
  • With the Reciters of the Quran.
  • 'Abbas: The Classroom Bully.
  • Perfect Memorization.
  • In the Advanced School.
  • Sitti: My Grandmother.
  • Recklessness.