Medina, officially Al Madinah Al Munawwarah (Arabic: المدينة المنورة, romanized: al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah, lit. 'The Enlightened City', Hejazi pronunciation: [almadiːna almʊnawːara]), commonly simplified as Madīnah or Madinah (Arabic: المدينة, romanized: al-Madina, Hejazi pronunciation: [almadiːna]), is the second holiest city in Islam and the capital of the Medina Province of Saudi Arabia. The 2020 estimated population of the city is 1,488,782, making it the fourth-most populous city in the country. Located at the core of the Medina Province in the western reaches of the country, the city is distributed over 589 square kilometers (227 square miles), 293 km2 (117 sq. mi.) of which constitutes the city's urban area, while the rest is occupied by the Hejaz mountain range, empty valleys, agricultural spaces and older dormant volcanoes.
The Prophet's City
The Prophetic City
The Kindest of Kind
|Al Madinat Al Munawwarah |
|First settled||9th century BC|
|Hijrah||622 AD (1 AH)|
|Saudi conquest of Hejaz||5 December 1925|
|• Body||Madinah Regional Municipality|
|• Mayor||Fahad Al-Belaihshi|
|• Provincial Governor||Prince Faisal bin Salman|
|• City||589 km2 (227 sq mi)|
|• Urban||293 km2 (117 sq mi)|
|• Rural||296 km2 (114 sq mi)|
|Elevation||620 m (2,030 ft)|
|Highest elevation||1,077 m (3,533 ft)|
|• Density||2,009/km2 (5,212/sq mi)|
|• Urban density||2,680/km2 (6,949/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (Arabia Standard Time)|
The city is considered to be the second-holiest of three cities in Islamic tradition, the other two being Mecca and Jerusalem. The Masjid al-Nabawi ('Prophet's Mosque') built by Muhammad in 622 CE, is of exceptional importance in Islam and is the site of burial of the last Islamic prophet. Muslims visit his rawdhah in what is known as Ziyarat at least once in their lifetime, although this is not obligatory. The original name of the city before the advent of Islam was Yathrib (Arabic: يَثْرِب) and it is referred to by the same name in the Qur'an in Chapter 33, al-Ahzab (The Confederates). It was renamed Madīnat an-Nabī (City of the Prophet or The Prophet's City) after Muhammad's death and later al-Madinah al-Munawwarah (The Enlightened City), before being simplified and shortened to its modern name, Madinah (The City), written in English as Medina. Saudi Arabian road signage uses Madinah and al-Madinah al-Munawwarah interchangeably.
The city existed for over 1,500 years before Muhammad's migration from Mecca, otherwise known as the Hijrah. Medina was the capital of a rapidly increasing Muslim caliphate under Muhammad's leadership, serving as its base of operations and as the cradle of Islam, where Muhammad's Ummah (Community), composed of the citizens of Medina, known as the Ansar and those who immigrated with Muhammad, known as the Muhajirun, collectively known as the Sahaba, gained huge influence. Medina is home to three prominent mosques, namely al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Masjid Quba'a, and Masjid al-Qiblatayn, with the masjid at Quba'a being the oldest in Islam. A larger portion of the Qur'an was revealed in Medina in contrast to the earlier Meccan surahs.
Much like most of the Hejaz, Medina has seen numerous exchanges of power within its comparatively short existence. The region has been controlled by Arabian Jewish tribes (up to the 5th century CE), the 'Aws and Khazraj (up to Muhammad's arrival), Muhammad and the Rashidun (622–660 CE), Umayyads (660–749 CE), Abbasids (749–1254 CE), the Mamluks of Egypt (1254–1517 CE), the Ottomans (1517–1805 CE), the First Saudi State (1805–1811 CE), Muhammad Ali Pasha (1811–1840 CE), the Ottomans for a second time (1840–1918), the Hashemite Sharifate of Mecca (1918–1925 CE) and finally is in the hands of the modern-day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1925–present CE).
In addition to visiting for Ziyarah, tourists come to visit the other prominent mosques and landmarks in the city that hold religious significance such as Mount Uhud, Al-Baqi' cemetery and the Seven Mosques among others. Recently, after the Saudi conquest, the Saudis carried out a demolition of several tombs and domes in and around the region fearing these might become sites of association of others in worship beside Allah (shirk).