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Medina (المدينة) (literally: the city) is one of the main religious cities of Saudi Arabia. It had been named as Yathrib before the emigration of the Prophet (s). Medina is located in north east of Mecca in Hijaz region. The distance between Medina and Mecca is 450 Km. Medina is the first capital of Islam and has many holy places, including the tomb of the Prophet (s), Masjid al-Nabi (the Prophet's mosque), and al-Baqi' cemetery. Battle of the Prophet with the Jews of Medina, al-Harra tragedy, and uprising of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya are some of important historical events of Medina.


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Early Islam
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Medina is one of the main religious cities of Saudi Arabia. It had been named as Yathrib before the emigration of the Prophet (s). Medina is located in north east of Mecca in Hijaz region. The distance between Medina and Mecca is 450 Km. Medina is located between a salt marsh and volcanic fields.

The most significant geological feature of Medina is that the city is locate between two volcanic fields named Harra. One in the east named al-Harra al-Vaqim and the other in the west named al-Harra al-Wabra. The most significant mountain of Medina is the Mount Uhud.

Inhabitants before Islam

Before Islam, the two groups of Arab and Jews were living in the city. The Jew tribes were: Banu Qaynuqa', Banu Nadir, and Banu Qurayza, which had been placed mostly in south and south east. The Arab tribes were Aws and Khazraj. The population of Khazraj was three time of Aws and were living in central Medina.

The Arab population of Yathrib were much more than Jews. There was a long conflict between Aws and Khazraj and the conflict was also transmitted to the Jew tribes.


Medina wasn't like Mecca in economy, although there was some trade, but not like Mecca that had summer and winter trade caravans. Economy of Medina were mostly based upon agriculture and date gardens around Medina. The most important products of Medina were date and grape; date was the root of their economic life which was used as food and its wood was used in buildings. After all, most of people were not in a good economic situation.


The climate of Medina is good compared to other places of the Arabian Peninsula; the water was available in a shallow depth, so by digging, it could be extracted easily.


The old and current name of the city is mentioned in Qur'an:

  • Medina (the city): verse 8 Sura al-Munafiqun: "They say, 'When we return to Medina, the mighty will surely expel the abased from it.' Yet all might belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and the faithful, but the hypocrites do not know." Also in verse 101 of sura al-Tawba: "There are hypocrites among the Bedouins around you and among the townspeople of Medina, steeped in hypocrisy. You do not know them; We know them, and We will punish them twice, then they shall be consigned to a great punishment."
  • Yathrib: Yathrib is the old name of the city before Islam. Verse 102 of sura al-Tawba: "And when a group of them (the hypocrites) said, 'O people of Yathrib! [This is] not a place for you, so go back!' And a group of them sought the Prophet's permission, saying, 'Our homes lie exposed [to the enemy]', although they were not exposed. They only sought to flee." Zajjaji says: "Yathrib is the name of the founder of the city, he is one of descendants of Sham (Sam) b. Noah (Nuh). When he and his family resided this land, it became named as Yathrib".
  • Dar (land): verse 9 of Sura al-Hashr: "[The spoils are as well] for those who were settled in the land and [abided] in faith before them (the emigrants), who love those who migrate toward them, and do not find in their breasts any need for that which is given to them, but prefer [the emmigrants] to themselves, though poverty be their own lot. And those who are saved from their own greed —it is they who are the felicitous."
  • The Prophet (s) named it as Tayba and Taba.

Emigration of the Prophet (s)

Main article: Hijra

13 years after bi'that in the beginning of the month Rabi' I, the Prophet (s) departed for Yathrib. This emigration (hijra) was after the two allegiances of 'Aqaba (the first and the second) by people of the city with the Prophet od Islam (s). After staying in Quba' for some days, he went to Medina. The last 10 years of the life of the Prophet (s) had mostly passed in Medina and this city was the center of expansion of Islam.

Actions of the Prophet (s) in Medina

Building a mosque

The first action of the Prophet (s) in Medina was building a mosque; a place where, in addition to being a center of worship, became a cultural, political and administrative center; a center which was one of the main bases for Muslims.

Writing a treaty

Main article: Treaty of Medina

The second action of the Prophet (s) was writing a public treaty between Muslims of Medina. In this treaty which all of Muslims accepted, ruling is known only for God and the Prophet (s) and some of civil and criminal rules of Islam had been accepted.

Bind of brotherhood

The third action of the Prophet (s) was placing the bind of brotherhood between Muslims. The Prophet (s) made Muslims brothers so they would have a closer relation to each other.

The center of the Islamic government

Medina was the center of the Islamic government in different times, including the rule of the Prophet (s) till the end of the rule of Imam al-Hasan (a) (except 3 years of the rule of Imam 'Ali (a), in which Kufa was the center) for 41 years; also in the time of the rule of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, in 145/762, for a short period of time.

Birthplace and Shrine of Shi'a Imams

Most of Shi'a Imams were born in this city. This city is the birthplace of Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Husayn (a), Imam al-Sajjad, Imam al-Baqir (a), Imam al-Sadiq (a), Imam al-Kazim (a), Imam al-Rida (a), Imam al-Jawad (a), Imam al-Hadi (a), and Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a).

Also, the tombs of four Imams: Imam al-Hasan (a), Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a) are in Medina.


The Prophet's Mosque

Masjid al-Nabi in Medina
Main article: Masjid al-Nabi

The most sacred mosque (masjid) after Masjid al-Haram is the Prophet's Mosque (Masjid al-Nabi) which is placed in Medina. About praying in this Mosque, the Prophet (s) said: "a prayer in my mosque equals to 10,000 prayers in other mosques before Allah, except Masjid al-Haram in which prayer equals 100,000 prayers."[1]

Quba' Mosque

Main article: Quba' Mosque
A view of Quba' Mosque, Medina

Quba' is an area 6 Km south of the Prophet's Mosque. According to many narrations, Quba' Mosque is the instance of the verse 108 of Sura al-Tawba: "A mosque founded on God wariness from the [very] first day is worthier that you stand in it [for prayer]". Quba' Mosque is the first mosque, the Prophet (s) built.[2]

The Prophet (a) said: "Who cleans and purifies himself and comes to Quba' Mosque and prays, will have the reward of an 'Umra"[3].

Shajara Mosque

Main article: Shajara Mosque
A view of Shajara Mosque, Medina

This mosque, which is also called Dhu l-Hulayfa, and Abyar 'Ali, is one of the most important mosques outside of Medina, and as one of the Miqats for ihram.

Al-Jumu'a Mosque

Main article: Al-Jumu'a Mosque

The Prophet (s), when emigrating to Medina, on his way from Quba' to Medina, said the first Jumu'a prayer in the place of Banu Salim tribe, so a mosque was built there and named as al-Jumu'a Mosque.

Al-'Umra Mosque

Main article: Al-'Umra Mosque

There was a mosque named al-Masjid al-'Arafat or al-Masjid al-'Umra placed in the direction of Qibla from al-masjid Quba'. The name was because in the Day of 'Arafa when the Prophet (s) was standing there, the earth became flat for him, so he could see the people in 'Arafat.

Mosque of 'Utban b. Malik

Mosque of 'Utban b. Malik had been one of mosques of Quba' region. Ibn 'Utban who was one of Naqibs of Ansar, requested the Prophet (s) to come to his home and pray there, so he could make that place his mosque; this was because sometimes flood prevented him from going to the local mosque. The Prophet (s) went his home, prayed there, so that place became a mosque.

Mousque of 'Ali (a)

This mosque is located in the south side of mosque of Fath. It is said that while Medina was surrounded by pagans during the Battle of Khandaq, this was the place that 'Ali (a) worshiped Allah.

Fadikh Mosque

This mosque is also named Radd al-Shams mosque. In the Battle of Banu Nadir, the Prophet (s) has had a tent there and after that a mosque was built there. In some narrations from Ahl al-Bayt (a) it's considered as a mosque which must be visited.[4]

The seven mosques

In northwest of Medina and in hill side of Mount Sal', seven mosques close to each other are named as "the seven mosques": mosque of 'Ali (a), mosque of Fatima (a), mosque of Salman, mosque of Abu Dharr, Dhu al-Qiblatayn mosque, mosque of Abu Bakr, and mosque of 'Umar.

There are other mosques in Medina, here is some of them:

A view of Al-Ghamama Mosque, Medina

Holy places

Al-Baqi' cemetery

Main article: Al-Baqi'

Al-Baqi' is the oldest and the most famous cemetery in Islam. The cemetery is placed in the east of Medina.

Graves of four Imams: Imam al-Hasan al-Mujtaba (a), Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Baqir (a), and Imam al-Sadiq (a), also the grave of Fatima bt. Asad, and according to some reports, the grave of Lady Fatima (a) are in this cemetery. Also the graves of 'Abbas the uncle of the Prophet (s), Ibrahim the son of the Prophet (s) and Umm al-Banin, Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum, the daughters of the Prophet (s), Safiyya and 'Atika the aunts of the Prophet (s), and many other companions and tabi'un and martyrs of Islam are placed in al-Baqi'.

The Prophet (s) was paying a special respect to the people buried in al-Baqi' and said: "I am ordered to ask forgiveness for those buried in al-Baqi'."

Every time the Prophet (s) was passing by al-Baqi', he said: "peace be upon you from the region of a faithful people, and we will join you, God willing."

Mount Uhud

Main article: Mount Uhud
Mount Uhud, North-west of Medina

One of famous and important mountains of Medina is Mount Uhud which is placed north-west of the city, 5 kilometers from al-Masjid al-Nabi. Among mountains around Medina, this mount is the only separate and single mountain, so it's called Uhud (single). This mountain, with the length of 7 kilometers (in east-west direction), is the longest mountain in the Arabian Peninsula, which has high peaks and its width differs from 1 to 3 kilometers.

Mountains of the Uhud area witnessed the confrontation of the good and the evil in the first years of Islam; the Battle of Uhud took place in Saturday, 7 Shawwal of 3 AH/629. In this area, the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud were buried.

The home of Lady Fatima (a)

The home in which Imam 'Ali (a) and Lady Fatima (a) were living, was placed besides al-Masjid al-Nabi. In many Shi'a and Sunni hadiths, this home is mentioned as "Bayt Fatima (a)" or "Hujra Fatima (a)".

This home had a door opening into the mosque, which was used in prayer times, and another opening into the alley. The event of shutting the doors (Sadd al-Abwab) to the al-Masjid al-Nabi except the door of the home of Imam 'Ali (a) had happened for this home. Now, the home is located in the mausoleum of the Prophet (s).

The grave of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya

The grave of Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah b. al-Hasan b. al-Hasan, known as al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, is located north west of the city near the Mount Sal'.

Important historical events of Medina

Battle of the Prophet with Jews of Banu Qaynuqa'

The Banu Qaynuqa' Jews tribe violated their treaty with the Prophet (s) after the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (s) advised them and warned them. One day in Bazaar, a Jew insulted a Muslim woman, so a Muslim man became angry and killed the Jew, and the Muslim man, was killed by other Jews from Banu Qaynuqa'; after that, Banu Qaynuqa' went to their castle and declared war. The Prophet (s) besieged them, and after their surrender, let them to leave Medina.[5]

The Battle with the Jews of Banu Nadir

Main article: Battle of Banu Nadir

One day the Prophet (s) went to the castle of Banu Nadir, they decided to kill the Prophet (s) and wanted to drop a stone on him; Gabriel (Jabra'il) informed the Prophet (s) about their intention, so he left the castle, and because of their betrayal, made them leave Medina.[6]

The Battle with the Jews of Banu Qurayza

Banu Qurayza violated their treaty with the Prophet (s) and assisted Quraysh and other polytheists in the Battle of Ahzab. During the battle they ambushed Muslims.[7]

After the Battle of Ahzab, the army of Muslims besieged the castle of Banu Qurayza. After almost a month, they surrendered and accepted the arbitration of Sa'd b. Mu'adh. Sa'd b. Ma'adh taking the treaty between the Prophet (s) and Banu Qurayza, and the rules of Torah about the traitors, declared that the combatant males of the tribe must be executed and their women and children be enslaved.

Harra tragedy

Main article: Harra tragedy

Harra tragedy is the biggest crime of Umayyads after murdering Imam al-Husayn (a).

Harra tragedy is the crackdown of the army of Syria, commanded by Muslim b. 'Uqba, on the uprising of the people of Medina, in 63/682. The uprising was against the rule of Yazid b. Mu'awiya led by 'Abd Allah b. Hanzala b. Abi 'Amir. In the tragedy, many of the people of Medina, including 80 of the companions of the Prophet (s) and 700 memorizers of Qur'an were killed, and the properties and families of people became plundered.[8]

The uprising of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya

Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya led an uprising in the time of the rule of al-Mansur al-'Abbasi in 145/762 in Medina. The people of Medina, especially its hadith scholars, including Malik b. Anas supported the uprising and considered the allegiance of Mansur under pressure and compulsion as invalid. In the clash of the two armies, the army of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya defeated and he became killed and buried in Baqi'.[9]


  1. Wasa'il, Vol.5, P.271
  2. Al-Razi, Vol.6, P.111
  3. Ibn Kathir, Vol.3, P.210
  4. Al-Majlisi, Vol.63, P.487
  5. Al-Waqidi, PP.127-8
  6. Al-Waqidi, PP.269-70
  7. Al-Waqidi, PP.345-6
  8. Al-Mas'udi, Vol.2, PP.73-5
  9. Al-Mas'udi, Vol.2, PP.298-9


  • al-'Amili, Muhammad b. Hasan. 1409 AH. Wasa'il al-Shi'a. Qom: Mu'assisa Al al-Bayt (a).
  • Ibn Kathir, Isma'il b. 'Umar. 1407. al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr.
  • Al-Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir. n.d. Bihar al-anwar. Beirut: Al-Wafa'.
  • Al-Mas'udi, 'Ali b. Husayn. 1378 sh. Murawwij al-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar, trans. by: Abu l-Qasim Payandi. Tehran: Instisharat Ilmi Farhangi.
  • Al-Razi, Abu l-Fath. n.d. Rawd al-jinan wa rawh al-jinan. Tehran: Islamiyya.
  • Al-Waqidi, Muhammad b. 'Umar. 1388 sh. Maghazi trans. by: Mahmud Mahdawi * Damghani. Tehran: Markaz Nashr Danishgahi.

Further Reading

  • Chenarani, Muhammad 'Ali, trans. by: Ahmad Rezwani Battle of Harrah, Mashhad: Islamic Research Foundation Astan Quds Razavi;
  • Chirri, Muhammad Jawad, The Battle of Uhud, Detroit: Harlo Press, 1988;

See also

External Links