Medina is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of Muhammad. It is historically significant for being Muhammad's home after the Hijrah.
Medina currently has a population of more than 1,300,000 people (2006). It was originally known as Yathrib, an oasis city dating as far back as the 6th century BCE. It was later inhabited by Jewish refugees who fled the aftermath of the war with the Romans in the 2nd century CE. Later the city's name was changed to Madinat(u) 'n-Nabiy ( "city of the prophet") or ''Al-Madinat(u) 'l-Munawwarah("the enlightened city" or "the radiant city"), while the short form Madinah'' simply means "city". Medina is celebrated for containing the mosque of Muhammad, and so ranks as the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca (Makkah).
Medina is 210 miles (338 kilometres north of Mecca and about 120 mi (193 km) from the Red Sea coast. It is situated in the most fertile part of all the Hejaz 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 city forms an oval, surrounded by a strong wall, 30 to 40 feet (9 to 12 metres) high, that dates from the 12th century C.E., and is flanked with towers, while on a rock, stands a castle. Of its four gates, the Bab-al-Salam, or Egyptian gate, is remarkable for its beauty. Beyond the walls of the city, west and south are suburbs consisting of low houses, yards, gardens and plantations. These suburbs have also walls and gates.
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Mosque of the prophet) stands at the east of the city and resembles the mosque at Mecca on a smaller scale. Its courtyard is almost 500 ft (152 m) in length, the dome is high with three picturesque minarets. The tomb of Muhammad, who wafat (passed away) and was buried here in 632 C.E., is enclosed with a screen of iron filigree, at the south side of which the hajji goes through his devotions, for all of which he pays, but is consoled with the assurance that one prayer here is as good as a thousand elsewhere.
The tombs of Fatimah (Muhammad's daughter) and Abu Bakr , and of Umar (Umar ibn Al-Khattab), the second caliph, are also here. The mosque dates back to the time of Muhammad, but has been twice burned and reconstructed.
Medina's religious significance in Islam
Medina's importance as a religious site derives from the presence of the 'Tomb of Prophet Muhammad' inside 'Al-Masjid(u) 'n-Nabawiy' or 'The Mosque of The Prophet'. The mosque was built on a site adjacent to Muhammad's home, and as Muslims believe that prophets must be buried at the very same place they leave this mortal world, Muhammad was thus buried in his house. The tomb later became part of the mosque when it was expanded by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. The first mosque of Islam is also located in Medina and is known as Masjid Quba (the Quba Mosque). It was destroyed by lightning, probably about 850 C.E., and the graves were almost forgotten. In 892 the place was cleared up, the tombs located and a fine mosque built, which was destroyed by fire in 1257 C.E. and almost immediately rebuilt. It was restored by Qaitbay, the Egyptian ruler, in 1487.
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 Hajj (annual pilgrimage). Hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to Medina annually to visit the 'Tomb of Prophet' and to worship at mosques in a unified celebration. Muslims believe that praying once in the Mosque of the Prophet is equal to praying at least 1000 times in any other mosque.
Jews have arrived to the city in the 2nd century CE in the wake of the Jewish-Roman wars. There were three prominent Jewish tribes which had inhabited the city till 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 shah.
The Aus and Khazraj
The situation changed after the arrival from Yemen of two Arab tribes named Banu Aus (Banu Aws) and Banu Khazraj. At first, these tribes were clients of the Jews, but later they revolted and became independent."Al-Medina." Encyclopaedia of Islam Toward the end of the 5th century, the Jews lost control of the city to Banu Aus and Banu Khazraj. The Jewish Encyclopedia states that they did so "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.See e.g., Peters 193; "Qurayza", Encyclopedia Judaica According to William Montgomery Watt, the clientship of the Jewish tribes is not borne out by the historical accounts of the period prior to 627, and maintained that the Jews retained a measure of political independence.
Ibn Ishaq tells of a 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, 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 recognized the Kaaba 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 (migration) to Medina, 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.
In 622, Muhammad and the Muhajirun left Mecca and arrived at Yathrib, an event that would transform the political landscape completely; the longstanding enmity between the Aus and Khazraj tribes was dampened as many of the two tribes embraced Islam. Muhammad, linked to the Khazraj through his great grandmother, was soon made one of the chiefs and united the Muslim converts of Yathrib under the name "Ansar" (the Patrons). After Muhammad's arrival, the city gradually came to be known as Medina (literally "city" in Arabic). Some consider this name as a derivative from the Aramaic word Medinta, which the Jewish inhabitants would have used for the city. The Jews of Arabia. By Lucien Gubbay
According to Ibn Ishaq, the Muslims and Jews of the area signed an agreement, the Constitution of Medina, which committed Jewish and Muslim tribes to mutual cooperation. The nature of this document as recorded by Ibn Ishaq and transmitted by ibn Hisham is the subject of dispute among modern historians many of whom maintain that this "treaty" is possibly a collage of agreements, oral rather than written, of different dates, and that it is not clear when they were made or with whom.
The Battle of Badr
In January of 623 Muhammad dispatched Ubaydah ibn al-Harith (Obeida), the son of Muhammad's uncle Harith ibn Abd al-Muttalib, to attack an enemy caravan (belonging to the persecutors of the first Muslims) passing along the Syria-to-Mecca trade route. As the caravan (led by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb) was watering in the valley of Rabigh, Muhammad's men fired volleys of arrows from a distance but did not inflict any damage. Obeida was given the honour of "he who shot the first arrow for Islam" as Abu Sufyan ibn Harb altered course to flee the attack. In retaliation for this attack Abu Sufyan ibn Harb requested an armed force from Mecca who came and engaged in the Battle of Badr, at which was killed.
Throughout the winter and spring of 623 other raiding parties were sent by Muhammad from Medina
Muhammad's agreement with the Jewish tribes soon broke down, as the Jews would not accept Muhammad's claims to prophethood or his growing influence. After his victory at Badr, Muhammad besieged and conquered the tribe of the Banu Qaynuqa, that had been involved in a tribal feud and adamantly refused to convert to Islam or keep peace with the Muslims. Because of the intercession of Abd-Allah ibn Ubayy and because it was the first incident with the tribes, Muhammad spared the tribe's lives and expelled them from the city.
The Battle of Uhud
In 625, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb 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. Nevertheless the Muslims marched forth into battle and originally were somewhat successful in pushing the Meccans back. However, a strategic hill was lost which allowed the Meccans to come from behind the Muslims so they suffered defeat in the Battle of Uhud. However, the Meccans did not capitalize on their victory by invading Medina and so returned to Mecca.
Meanwhile, conflict with the Jews arose again: one of the Banu Nadir's chiefs, the poet Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf, was killed for breaching the Constitution of Medina and after the battle of Uhud, Muhammad accused the tribe of treachery and plotting against his life and expelled them from the city after a short fight.
The Battle of the Trench
In 627, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb 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 ibn Harb 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 Jews 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 that all male members of the tribe were killed and the women and children taken prisoner. 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.
In the ten years following the Hijra, Medina formed the base from which Muhammad attacked and was attacked and it was from here that he marched on Mecca, becoming its ruler without battle. Even when Islamic rule was established, Medina remained for some years the most important city of Islam and the capital of the Caliphate.
Under the first four Caliphs, known as the Rashidun (The Rightly Guided Caliphs), the Islamic empire expanded rapidly and came to include historical centres of civilisation such as Jerusalem and Damascus, and Mesopotamia. After the death of Ali, the fourth caliph, the seat of the Caliph was first transferred to Damascus and later to Baghdad. Medina's importance dwindled and it became more a place of religious importance than of political power. After the fragmentation of the Caliphate the city became subject to various rulers, including the Mamluks in the 13th century and finally, since 1517, the Ottoman Turks.
In 1256 Medina was threatened by lava flow from the last eruption of Harrat Rahat.
In the beginning of 20th century during World War I Medina witnessed one of the longest sieges in history. Medina was a city of 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 and sided with Great Britain. The city of Medina was besieged by his forces and Fakhri Pasha tenaciously held on during the Siege of Medina from 1916 but on 10 January 1919 he was forced to surrender. After the First World War, the Hashemite Sayyid Hussein bin Ali was proclaimed King of an independent Hejaz, but in 1924 he was defeated by Ibn Saud, who integrated Medina and Hejaz into his kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Medina Knowledge Economic City project, a city focused on knowledge-based industries, has been planned and is expected to boost development and increase the number of jobs in Medina.
Islamic University in Madinah [*]
Taibah University [*]
Siege of Medina
Beautiful Masajids Of Madina Munawara, Details And Pictures- Completely In Urdu
Saudi Arabian Travel and Trekking Guide, A travel site with photos and routes