Thursday, 11 September 2008

Madinatul Munawwarah

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.[1] 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 Madīnat(u) 'n-Nabiy (مدينة ﺍﻟﻨﺒﻲ "city of the prophet") or Al-Madīnat(u) 'l-Munawwarah ("the enlightened city" or "the radiant city"), while the short form Madīnah 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).[2] 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.

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.[3]

The tombs of Fatimah (Muhammad's daughter) and Abu Bakr (first caliph and the father of Muhammad's wife, Aisha), 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.[3]

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