Tip on : Medina - 6 years ago
Known by more than 90 names that generally denote respect and devotion, the city is most commonly called Madinah (city), short for Madinah Al-Nabi (City of the Prophet) or Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah (the Radiant or Enlightened City), a reference to its association with the Prophet.Although Madinah came to prominence with the introduction of Islam, its roots date back hundreds of years into the pre-Islamic era when it was known as Yathrib. Situated on a plain with aquifers fed by runoff from the surrounding hills, the city had abundant water supplies that fed vast date palms and vegetable gardens. The availability of food and water made Madinah an important reprovisioning point for caravans that plied the commercial routes from the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula along the Red Sea to Syria and Egypt. Its inhabitants sold food to these passing caravans and, over time, became involved in trade.Yathrib may have languished in relative anonymity were it not for events that took place in Makkah, more than 200 miles to the south, at the turn of the seventh century AD. What was taking place in Makkah would not only transform Yathrib, but also much of the known world.Unlike Yathrib and other oasis settlements that relied on agriculture, Makkah's primary significance was as a pilgrimage site. Large numbers of people visited the Ka'abah, the House of God built by the Prophet Abraham. However, at this time monotheism had been swept aside, and the Ka'abah housed numerous idols belonging to the inhabitants of Makkah and nearby tribes.It was against this backdrop that the Prophet Muhammad was born in 570 AD in Makkah and received the first verses of the Holy Qur'an in the year 610. Based on the worship of God, the absolute and single Creator, Islam rejected the idolatry that was prevalent in Makkah at the time. As such, Islam was viewed as a threat to the livelihood and power base of the ruling tribe of Makkah, and its growing number of followers were harassed, persecuted and threatened.During this period, leaders of Yathrib, familiar with the Prophet Muhammad's reputation for honesty and sincerity, had sent envoys asking that he mediate a dispute between two powerful tribes. Impressed by the Prophet's character and teachings, these envoys soon accepted Islam and were followed by other converts. Observing the growing threat to their fellow Muslims in Makkah, the people of Yathrib offered a safe haven to them, and beginning in 620 AD, the Prophet Muhammad started sending groups of Muslims to live in Yathrib.Having learned of a plot to murder him, the Prophet Muhammad himself left Makkah for Yathrib, arriving in the city in September 622. This event is known as the Hijrah (emigration). The Prophet's arrival in Yathrib was a turning point in world history. It marked the establishment of the first Islamic state and the rapid growth of the new faith. From then on, the city became Madinah Al-Nabi, and the date of the Prophet's arrival there marked the first year of the Islamic calendar.With the emigration, Madinah became a center of activity. Upon his approach to the oasis in 622, the Prophet established the first mosque in Islam at Quba, a village on the outskirts of Madinah. Called Masjid Al-Taqwa (Mosque of Piety), the mosque still stands, albeit modernized and enlarged.Once settled in Madinah, the Prophet built another mosque adjacent to his house. Called Masjid Al-Nabawi (the Prophet's Mosque), the first structure on today's site was a simple one supported by the trunks of standing palm trees, and was built by the Prophet himself. It was this mosque at which the Prophet and his companions prayed, and which soon became the social and economic center of the city and the Islamic state. With the growth of Islam, more mosques were established throughout the city and its environs.The first eight years of the Hijrah were spent strengthening the ummah (Islamic community) in Madinah and in warding off the aggression of the armies sent from Makkah. In the eighth year of the Hijrah, 630 AD, the Prophet and his followers entered Makkah without bloodshed. He ordered the removal of all idols from the Ka'abah, and within weeks all inhabitants of Makkah had accepted Islam. He returned to Makkah in 632 for his final pilgrimage, the rituals of which are followed by all Muslims who have since performed the Hajj.While the Holy Mosque in Makkah was the spiritual center of Islam, Madinah became the administrative hub of the new Islamic state during the Prophet Muhammad's lifetime. It was from here that the successful campaign to convince the tribes to abandon idolatry was waged.It was also in Madinah that the Prophet's companions compiled the verses of the Holy Qur'an and collected the Hadith (teachings and sayings of the Prophet) that would serve as the basis of Shari'ah (Islamic law).And it was also in Madinah that the Prophet died on June 8, 632, and where he was buried in his house adjoining the mosque he had helped build with his own hands.