Medina[a], also transliterated as Madīnah, is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula and administrative headquarters of the Al-Madinah Region of Saudi Arabia. At the city's heart is al-Masjid an-Nabawi ('The Prophet's Mosque'), which is the burial place of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and it is one of the two holiest cities in Islam, the other being Mecca.
|The Radiant City|
|• Mayor||Khalid Taher|
|• Regional Governor||Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud|
|• City||589 km2 (227 sq mi)|
|• Urban||293 km2 (113 sq mi)|
|Elevation||620 m (2,030 ft)|
|• Density||2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (Arabia Standard Time)|
Medina was Muhammad's destination of his Hijrah (migration) from Mecca, and became the capital of a rapidly increasing Muslim Empire, under Muhammad's leadership, serving as the power base of Islam, and where Muhammad's Ummah (Community), composed of both locals and immigrants from Muhammad's original home of Mecca, developed. Medina is home to three prominent mosques, namely al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Quba Mosque, and Masjid al-Qiblatayn ('The mosque of the two Qiblas'). Muslims believe that the chronologically final surahs of the Quran were revealed to Muhammad in Medina, and are called Medinan surahs in contrast to the earlier Meccan surahs.
The Arabic word al-Madīnah (ٱلْمَدِيْنَة) simply means 'the city'. Before the advent of Islam, the city was known as Yathrib (pronounced [ˈjaθrib]; يَثْرِب). The word Yathrib has been recorded in Surat al-Ahzab of the Quran.[Quran 33:13]
The city has also been called Taybah (Good) ([ˈtˤajba]; طَيْبَة) and Tabah (Arabic: طَابَة similar in meaning to the latter). An alternative[clarification needed] name is al-Madīnah an-Nabawiyyah (ٱلْمَدِيْنَة ٱلنَّبَوِيَّة) or Madīnat an-Nabī (مَدِيْنَة ٱلنَّبِي, "City of the Prophet").
As of 2010[update], the city of Medina has a population of 1,183,205. Inhabitants of Yathrib during the era before Muhammad's arrival also included Jewish tribes. Later the city's name was changed to Madīna-tu n-Nabī or al-Madīnatu 'l-Munawwarah (ٱلْمَدِيْنَة ٱلْمُنَوَّرَة, "the lighted city" or "the radiant city"). Medina is celebrated for containing al-Masjid an-Nabawi and as the city which gave refuge to him and his followers, and so ranks as the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca. Muhammad was buried in Medina, under the Green Dome, as were the first two Rashidun caliphs, Abu Bakr and Umar, who were buried next to him in what used to be Muhammad's house.
Medina is 210 miles (340 km) north of Mecca and about 120 miles (190 km) from the Red Sea coast. It is situated in the most fertile part of all the Hejazi territory, the streams of the vicinity tending to converge in this locality. An immense plain extends to the south; in every direction the view is bounded by hills and mountains.
The historic city formed an oval, surrounded by a strong wall, 30 to 40 feet (9.1 to 12.2 m) high, dating from the 12th century CE, and was flanked with towers, while on a rock, stood a castle. Of its four gates, the Bab-al-Salam, or Egyptian gate, was remarkable for its beauty. Beyond the walls of the city, west and south were suburbs consisting of low houses, yards, gardens and plantations. These suburbs also had walls and gates. Almost all of the historic city has been demolished in the Saudi era. The rebuilt city is centred on the vastly expanded al-Masjid an-Nabawi.
The graves of Fatimah (Muhammad's daughter) and Hasan (Muhammad's grandson), across from the mosque at Jannat al-Baqi', and Abu Bakr (first caliph and the father of Muhammad's wife, Aisha), and of Umar ibn Al-Khattab), the second caliph, are also here. The mosque dates back to the time of Muhammad, but has been twice reconstructed.
Religious significance in IslamEdit
Medina's importance as a religious site derives from the presence of al-Masjid an-Nabawi. The mosque was expanded by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. Mount Uhud is a mountain north of Medina which was the site of the second battle between Muslim and Meccan forces.
Quba Mosque, the first mosque reportedly built by Muhammad, is now located in the metropolitan area of Medina. It was destroyed by lightning, probably about 850 CE, and the graves were almost forgotten. In 892, the place was cleared up, the graves located and a fine mosque built, which was destroyed by fire in 1257 CE and almost immediately rebuilt. It was restored by Qaitbay, the Egyptian ruler, in 1487.
Masjid al-Qiblatain is another mosque also historically important to Muslims. It is where the command was sent to Muhammad to change the direction of prayer (qibla) from Jerusalem to Mecca, according to a hadith.
Like Mecca, the city of Medina only permits Muslims to enter, although the haram (area closed to non-Muslims) of Medina is much smaller than that of Mecca, with the result that many facilities on the outskirts of Medina are open to non-Muslims, whereas in Mecca the area closed to non-Muslims extends well beyond the limits of the built-up area. Both cities' numerous mosques are the destination for large numbers of Muslims on their 'Umrah (second pilgrimage after Hajj). Hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to Medina annually while performing pilgrimage Hajj. Al-Baqi' is a significant cemetery in Medina where several family members of Muhammad, caliphs and scholars are buried.
Islamic scriptures emphasise the sacredness of Medina. Medina is mentioned several times as being sacred in the Quran, for example ayah; 9:101, 9:129, 59:9, and ayah 63:7. Medinan suras are typically longer than their Mecca counterparts. There is also a book within the hadith of Bukhari titled 'Virtues of Medina'.
Sahih Bukhari says:
Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "Medina is a sanctuary from that place to that. Its trees should not be cut and no heresy should be innovated nor any sin should be committed in it, and whoever innovates in it an heresy or commits sins (bad deeds), then he will incur the curse of God, the angels, and all the people."
By the fourth century, Arab tribes began to encroach from Yemen, and there were three prominent Jewish tribes that inhabited the city into the 7th century CE: the Banu Qaynuqa, the Banu Qurayza, and Banu Nadir. Ibn Khordadbeh later reported that during the Persian Empire's domination in Hejaz, the Banu Qurayza served as tax collectors for the Persian Shah.
The situation changed after the arrival from Yemen of two new Arab tribes named Banu Aus (or Banu 'Aws) and Banu Khazraj. At first, these tribes were allied with Jewish rulers, but later they revolted and became independent. Toward the end of the 5th century, the Jewish rulers lost control of the city to Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj. The Jewish Encyclopedia states that "by calling in outside assistance and treacherously massacring at a banquet the principal Jews", Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj finally gained the upper hand at Medina.
Most modern historians accept the claim of the Muslim sources that after the revolt, the Jewish tribes became clients of the Aus and the Khazraj. However, according to scholar of Islam William Montgomery Watt, the clientship of the Jewish tribes is not borne out by the historical accounts of the period prior to 627, and he maintained that the Jewish populace retained a measure of political independence.
Early Muslim chronicler Ibn Ishaq tells of an ancient conflict between the last Yemenite king of the Himyarite Kingdom and the residents of Yathrib. When the king was passing by the oasis, the residents killed his son, and the Yemenite ruler threatened to exterminate the people and cut down the palms. According to Ibn Ishaq, he was stopped from doing so by two rabbis from the Banu Qurayza tribe, who implored the king to spare the oasis because it was the place "to which a prophet of the Quraysh would migrate in time to come, and it would be his home and resting-place." The Yemenite king thus did not destroy the town and converted to Judaism. He took the rabbis with him, and in Mecca, they reportedly recognised the Ka'bah as a temple built by Abraham and advised the king "to do what the people of Mecca did: to circumambulate the temple, to venerate and honour it, to shave his head and to behave with all humility until he had left its precincts." On approaching Yemen, tells ibn Ishaq, the rabbis demonstrated to the local people a miracle by coming out of a fire unscathed and the Yemenites accepted Judaism.
Eventually the Banu Aus and the Banu Khazraj became hostile to each other and by the time of Muhammad's Hijra (emigration) to Medina in 622 CE/1 AH, they had been fighting for 120 years and were the sworn enemies of each other. The Banu Nadir and the Banu Qurayza were allied with the Aus, while the Banu Qaynuqa sided with the Khazraj. They fought a total of four wars.
Their last and bloodiest battle was the Battle of Bu'ath that was fought a few years before the arrival of Muhammad. The outcome of the battle was inconclusive, and the feud continued. Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy, one Khazraj chief, had refused to take part in the battle, which earned him a reputation for equity and peacefulness. Until the arrival of Muhammad, he was the most respected inhabitant of Yathrib. To solve the ongoing feud, concerned residents of the city met secretly with Muhammad in Al-Aqaba, a place between Makkah and Mina, inviting him and his small group of believers to come to Yathrib, where Muhammad could serve as disinterested mediator between the factions and his community could practice its faith freely.
In 622 CE/1 AH, Muhammad and around 70 Meccan Muhajirun believers left Mecca for sanctuary in Yathrib, an event that transformed the religious and political landscape of the city completely; the longstanding enmity between the Aus and Khazraj tribes was dampened as many of the two Arab tribes and some local Jews embraced Islam. Muhammad, linked to the Khazraj through his great-grandmother, was agreed on as civic leader. The Muslim converts native to Yathrib of whatever background—pagan Arab or Jewish—were called Ansar ("the Patrons" or "the Helpers"), while the Muslims would pay the Zakat tax.
According to Ibn Ishaq, the local pagan Arab tribes, the Muslim Muhajirun from Mecca, the local Muslims (Ansar), and the Jewish population of the area signed an agreement, the Constitution of Medina, which committed all parties to mutual co-operation under the leadership of Muhammad. The nature of this document as recorded by Ibn Ishaq and transmitted by Ibn Hisham is the subject of dispute among modern Western historians, many of whom maintain that this "treaty" is possibly a collage of different agreements, oral rather than written, of different dates, and that it is not clear exactly when they were made. Other scholars, however, both Western and Muslim, argue that the text of the agreement—whether a single document originally or several—is possibly one of the oldest Islamic texts we possess. In Yemenite Jewish sources, another treaty was drafted between Muhammad and his Jewish subjects, known as kitāb ḏimmat al-nabi, written in the 17th year of the Hijra (638 CE), and which gave express liberty unto Jews living in Arabia to observe the Sabbath and to grow-out their side-locks, but were required to pay the jizya (poll-tax) annually for their protection by their patrons.
Battle of BadrEdit
The Battle of Badr was a key battle in the early days of Islam and a turning point in Muhammad's struggle with his opponents among the Quraysh in Mecca. In the spring of 624, Muhammad received word from his intelligence sources that a trade caravan, commanded by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Chieftain of the Meccan Quraysh, and guarded by thirty to forty men, was travelling from Syria back to Mecca. Muhammad gathered an army of 313 men, the largest army the Muslims had put in the field yet. However, many early Muslim sources, including the Quran, indicate that no serious fighting was expected, and the future Caliph Uthman ibn Affan stayed behind to care for his sick wife.
As the caravan approached Medina, Abu Sufyan began hearing from travellers and riders about Muhammad's planned ambush. He sent a messenger named Damdam to Mecca to warn the Quraysh and get reinforcements. Alarmed, the Quraysh assembled an army of 900–1,000 men to rescue the caravan. Many of the Qurayshi nobles, including Amr ibn Hishām, Walid ibn Utba, Shaiba, and Umayyah ibn Khalaf, joined the army. However, some of the army was to later return to Mecca before the battle.
The battle started with champions from both armies emerging to engage in combat. The Muslims sent out Ali, Ubaydah ibn al-Harith (Obeida), and Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib. The Muslims dispatched the Meccan champions in a three-on-three mêlée, Hamzah killed his opponent with the very first strike, although Ubaydah was mortally wounded.
Now both armies began firing arrows at each other. Two Muslims and an unknown number of Quraysh were killed. Before the battle started, Muhammad had given orders for the Muslims to attack with their ranged weapons, and only engage the Quraysh with melee weapons when they advanced. Now he gave the order to charge, throwing a handful of pebbles at the Meccans in what was probably a traditional Arabian gesture while yelling "Defaced be those faces!" The Muslim army yelled "Yā manṣūr amit!" and rushed the Qurayshi lines. The Meccans, although substantially outnumbering the Muslims, promptly broke and ran. The battle itself only lasted a few hours and was over by the early afternoon. The Quran describes the force of the Muslim attack in many verses, which refer to thousands of angels descending from Heaven at Badr to slaughter the Quraysh. Early Muslim sources take this account literally, and there are several hadith where Muhammad discusses the Angel Jibreel and the role he played in the battle.
Ubaydah ibn al-Harith (Obeida) was given the honour of "he who shot the first arrow for Islam" as Abu Sufyan altered course to flee the attack. In retaliation for this attack Abu Sufyan requested an armed force from Mecca.
Throughout the winter and spring of 623 other raiding parties were sent by Muhammad from Medina.
Battle of UhudEdit
In 625, Abu Sufyan, who paid tax to the Byzantine empire regularly, once again led a Meccan force against Medina. Muhammad marched out to meet the force but before reaching the battle, about one third of the troops under Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy withdrew. With a smaller force, the Muslim army had to find a strategy to gain the upper hand. A group of archers were ordered to stay on a hill to keep an eye on the Meccan's cavalry forces and to provide protection at the rear of the Muslim's army. As the battle heated up, the Meccans were forced to somewhat retreat. The battle front was pushed further and further away from the archers, whom, from the start of the battle, had really nothing to do but watch. In their growing impatience to be part of the battle, and seeing that they were somewhat gaining advantage over the Kafirun (Infidels) these archers decided to leave their posts to pursue the retreating Meccans. A small party, however, stayed behind; pleading all along to the rest to not disobey their commanders' orders. But their words were lost among the enthusiastic yodels of their comrades.
However, the Meccans' retreat was actually a manufactured manoeuvre that paid off. The hillside position had been a great advantage to the Muslim forces, and they had to be lured off their posts for the Meccans to turn the table over. Seeing that their strategy had actually worked, the Meccans cavalry forces went around the hill and re-appeared behind the pursuing archers. Thus, ambushed in the plain between the hill and the front line, the archers were systematically slaughtered, watched upon by their desperate comrades who stayed behind up in the hill, shooting arrows to thwart the raiders, but to little effect.
However, the Meccans did not capitalise on their advantage by invading Medina and returned to Mecca. The Medinans suffered heavy losses, and Muhammad was injured.
Battle of the TrenchEdit
In 627, Abu Sufyan once more led Meccan forces against Medina. Because the people of Medina had dug a trench to further protect the city, this event became known as the Battle of the Trench. After a protracted siege and various skirmishes, the Meccans withdrew again. During the siege, Abu Sufyan had contacted the remaining Jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza and formed an agreement with them, to attack the defenders from behind the lines. It was however discovered by the Muslims and thwarted. This was in breach of the Constitution of Medina and after the Meccan withdrawal, Muhammad immediately marched against the Qurayza and laid siege to their strongholds. The Jewish forces eventually surrendered. Some members of the Banu Aus now interceded on behalf of their old allies and Muhammad agreed to the appointment of one of their chiefs, Sa'd ibn Mua'dh, as judge. Sa'ad judged by Jewish Law that all male members of the tribe should be killed and the women and children enslaved as was the law stated in the Old Testament for treason (Deutoronomy). This action was conceived of as a defensive measure to ensure that the Muslim community could be confident of its continued survival in Medina. The historian Robert Mantran argues that from this point of view it was successful — from this point on, the Muslims were no longer primarily concerned with survival but with expansion and conquest.
Capital city of Muhammad and the Rashidun CaliphateEdit
In the ten years following the hijra, Medina formed the base from which Muhammad and the Muslim army attacked and were attacked, and it was from here that he marched on Mecca, entering it without battle in 629 CE/8 AH, all parties acquiescing to his leadership. Afterwards, however, despite Muhammad's tribal connection to Mecca and the ongoing importance of the Meccan Ka'bah for Islamic pilgrimage (Hajj), Muhammad returned to Medina, which remained for some years the most important city of Islam and the capital of the early caliphate.
Yathrib was renamed Medina from Madinat al-Nabi ("city of the Prophet" in Arabic) in honour of Muhammad's prophethood and death there. (Alternatively, Lucien Gubbay suggests the name Medina could also have been a derivative from the Aramaic word Medinta, which the Jewish inhabitants could have used for the city.)
Under the first three caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman, Medina was the capital of a rapidly increasing Muslim Empire. During the period of Uthman, the third caliph, a party of Arabs from Egypt, disgruntled at his political decisions, attacked Medina in 656 CE/35 AH and murdered him in his own home. Ali, the fourth caliph, changed the capital of the caliphate from Medina to Kufa in Iraq. After that, Medina's importance dwindled, becoming more a place of religious importance than of political power.
World War I to Saudi controlEdit
In the beginning of the 20th century, during World War I, Medina witnessed one of the longest sieges in history. Medina was a city of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Local rule was in the hands of the Hashemite clan as Sharifs or Emirs of Mecca. Fakhri Pasha was the Ottoman governor of Medina. Ali bin Hussein, the Sharif of Mecca and leader of the Hashemite clan, revolted against the Caliph in Constantinople (Istanbul) and sided with Great Britain. The city of Medina was besieged by the Sharif's forces, and Fakhri Pasha tenaciously held on during the Siege of Medina from 1916 till 10 January 1919. He refused to surrender and held on another 72 days after the Armistice of Moudros, until he was arrested by his own men. In anticipation of the plunder and destruction to follow, Fakhri Pasha secretly sent the Sacred Relics of Medina to Istanbul.
As of 1920, the British described Medina as "much more self-supporting than Mecca." After the First World War, the Hashemite Sayyid Hussein bin Ali was proclaimed King of an independent Hejaz. Soon after, in 1924, he was defeated by Ibn Saud, who integrated Medina and the whole of the Hejaz into the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Today, Medina ("Madinah" officially in Saudi documents), in addition to being the second most important Islamic pilgrimage destination after Mecca, is an important regional capital of the western Saudi Arabian province of Al Madinah. Though the city's sacred core of the old city is off limits to non-Muslims, Medina is inhabited by an increasing number of Muslim and non-Muslim expatriate workers of other Arab nationalities (Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, etc.), South Asians (Bangladeshis, Indians, Pakistanis, etc.) and Filipinos.
The soil surrounding Madinah consists of mostly basalt, while the hills, especially noticeable to the south of the city, are volcanic ash which dates to the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era.
Al Madinah Al Munawarah is located at Eastern Part of Al-Hijaz Region in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on longitude 39º 36' E and latitude 24º 28' N.
Madinah is located in the north-western part of the Kingdom, to the east of the Red Sea, which lies only 250 kilometres (160 miles) away from it. It is surrounded by a number of mountains: Al-Hujaj, or Pilgrims' Mountain to the west, Salaa to the north-west, Al-E'er or Caravan Mountain to the south and Uhad to the north. Madinah is situated on a flat mountain plateau at the junction of the three valleys of Al-Aql, Al-Aqiq, and Al-Himdh. For this reason, there are large green areas amidst a dry mountainous region. The city is 620 metres (2,030 feet) above sea level. Its western and southwestern parts have many volcanic rocks. Madinah lies at the meeting-point of longitude 39º36' east and latitude 24º28' north. It covers an area of about 50 square kilometres (19 square miles).
Al Madinah Al Munawwarah is a desert oasis surrounded with mountains and stony areas from all sides. It was mentioned in several references and sources. It was known as Yathrib in Writings of ancient Maeniand, this is obvious evidence that the population structure of this desert oasis is a combination of north Arabs and South Arabs, who settled there and built their civilisation during the thousand years before Christ.
Medina has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Summers are extremely hot with daytime temperatures averaging about 43 °C (109 °F) with nights about 29 °C (84 °F). Temperatures above 45 °C (113 °F) are not unusual between June and September. Winters are milder, with temperatures from 12 °C (54 °F) at night to 25 °C (77 °F) in the day. There is very little rainfall, which falls almost entirely between November and May.
|Climate data for Medina (1985–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||33.2
|Average high °C (°F)||24.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||17.9
|Average low °C (°F)||11.6
|Record low °C (°F)||1.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||6.3
|Average rainy days||2.6||1.4||3.2||4.1||2.9||0.1||0.4||1.5||0.6||2.0||3.3||2.5||24.6|
|Average relative humidity (%)||38||31||25||22||17||12||14||16||14||19||32||38||23|
|Source: Jeddah Regional Climate Center|
As with most cities in Saudi Arabia, Islam is the religion adhered by the majority of the population of Medina. Sunnis of different schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali) constitute the majority while there is a significant Shia minority in and around Medina, such as the Nakhawila. Outside the city centre (reserved for Muslims only), there are significant numbers of non-Muslim migrant workers and expats.
The city is served by the Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport which opened in 1974. It handles on average 20–25 flights a day, although this number triples during the Hajj season and school holidays. With the increasing number of pilgrim visiting each year, many hotels are being constructed.
High schools include
- Uhud High School
- Abrar High School
- Miraz Al Eman High school
- Prince Abdulmohsen's High School
- Al Rayan School Community
- Abdullah Ibn Al Sai'b High School
- Prince Meqrin's High School
Medina is served by Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport (IATA: MED, ICAO: OEMA) located about 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) from the city centre. This airport handles mostly domestic destinations and it has limited international services to regional destinations such as Cairo, Bahrain, Istanbul and Kuwait. Medina Airport also handles charter international flights during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.
A high speed inter-city rail line (Haramain High Speed Rail Project also known as the "Western Railway"), is under construction in Saudi Arabia. It will link Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Rabigh, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International Airport, along 444 kilometres (276 miles). A three-line metro is also planned. In 2018, the project was launched and started to transport passengers from Makkah to Medinah and the opposite. The railway also passes by Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City.
Major roads that connect city of Medina to other parts of the country are:
- Highway 15 (Saudi Arabia) – connects Medina to Mecca, Abha, Khamis Mushait and Tabuk.
- Highway 60 (Saudi Arabia) – connects Medina to Buraidah
Medina Bus Transport finds the route to the nearest bus stop and al-Masjid an-Nabawi. Now, Madinah has a new bus service called 'tourist bus' to give a tour of Madinah and its historical places (including "The Prophet's Mosque").
Destruction of heritageEdit
Saudi Arabia is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to shirk (idolatry). As a consequence, under Saudi rule, Medina has suffered from considerable destruction of its physical heritage including the loss of many buildings over a thousand years old. Critics have described this as "Saudi vandalism" and claim that in Medina and Mecca over the last 50 years, 300 historic sites linked to Muhammad, his family or companions have been lost. In Medina, examples of historic sites which have been destroyed include the Salman al-Farsi Mosque, the Raj'at ash-Shams Mosque, the Jannatul Baqee cemetery, and the house of Muhammed.
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