Medina

/meuh dee"neuh/ for 1; /meuh duy"neuh/ for 2, n.
1. a city in W Saudi Arabia, where Muhammad was first accepted as the supreme Prophet from Allah and where his tomb is located. 150,000.
2. a town in N Ohio. 15,268.

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Arabic Al-Madīnah ancient Yathrib.

City (pop., 1992: 608,295), western Saudi Arabia, north of Mecca.

It developed from an oasis settled by Jews с AD 135. In 622 the Prophet Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina (see Hijrah). It served as capital of the Islamic state until 661. Held by the Ottoman Empire (1517–1804), it then was seized by the Wahhābiyyah. An Ottoman-Egyptian force retook it in 1812. Ottoman rule ceased during World War I (1914–18), and in 1925 it fell to the forces Ibn Saūd. A sacred city of Islam, it is second only to Mecca as a place of Muslim pilgrimage; among its many mosques is the Prophet's Mosque, containing the tomb of Muhammad.

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Introduction
Arabic  Al-Madīnah,  formally  Al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah (“The Luminous City”),  or  Madīnat Rasūl Allāh (“City of the Messenger of God [i.e., Muḥammad]”),  ancient  Yathrib 
 city located in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) inland from the Red Sea and 275 miles from Mecca by road. With Mecca, it is one of Islām's two holiest cities.

      Medina is celebrated as the place from which Muḥammad conquered all of Arabia after his flight from Mecca (AD 622), and a pilgrimage is made to his tomb in the city's chief mosque. Only Muslims are allowed to enter the city. Pop. (2004) 918,889.

Physical and human geography

The landscape
The city site
      Medina lies 2,050 feet (625 metres) above sea level on a fertile oasis. It is bounded on the east by an extensive lava field, part of which dates from a volcanic eruption in AD 1207. On the other three sides, the city is enclosed by arid hills belonging to the Hejaz mountain range. The highest of these hills is Mt. Uḥud, which rises to more than 2,000 feet above the oasis.

The city layout
      Because Medina is a sacred area, only Muslims are permitted to enter. The airport, however, lies just outside the sacred limits, and a good view of the city can be obtained by foreigners from aircraft landing there.

      In Turkish times, there was a small military landing ground at Sultanah, to the south near the garrison's barracks, but the area is now occupied by the king's palace and its extensive satellites. There too are the ruins of the tomb of ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ, the celebrated conquerer for early Islām of Palestine and Egypt. The tomb of Aaron is located on the highest point of Mt. Uḥud.

      Other religious features of the oasis include the mosque of Qubāʾ, the first in Islāmic history, from which the Prophet was vouchsafed a view of Mecca; the Mosque of the Two Qiblahs, commemorating the change of the prayer direction from Jerusalem to Mecca, at ar-Rimāḥ; the tomb of Ḥamza, uncle of the Prophet and of his companions who fell in the Battle of Uḥud (625), in which the Prophet was wounded; and the cave in the flank of Uḥud in which the Prophet took refuge on that occasion. Other mosques commemorate where he donned his armour for that battle; where he rested on the way thither, and where he unfurled his standard for the battle of the ditch (khandaq); and the ditch itself, dug around Medina by Muḥammad, in which the rubble of the great fire during the reign (1839–61) of Sultan Abdülmecid I was dumped. All these spots are the object of pious visitation by all Muslims visiting Medina; they are forbidden to non-Muslims. In addition the city is also the site of the Islāmic University, established in 1961.

      But the cynosure of all pilgrims is the Prophet's Mosque, which Muḥammad himself helped to build. Additions and improvements were undertaken by a succession of caliphs, and the chamber of the Prophet's wives was merged in the extension during the time of the Umayyad caliph al-Walīd ibn ʿAbd al-Malik. Fire twice damaged the mosque, first in 1256 and again in 1481, and its rebuilding was variously undertaken by devout rulers of several Islāmic countries. Sultan Selim II (1566–74) decorated the interior of the mosque with mosaics overlaid with gold. Sultan Muḥammad built the dome in 1817 and in 1839 painted it green, this being the accepted colour of Islām. Sultan Abdülmecid I initiated a project for the virtual reconstruction of the mosque in 1848 and completed it in 1860. This was the last renovation before the modern expansion planned by King ʿAbdul-ʿAziz in 1948 and executed by King Saud in 1953–55. The mosque now includes a new northern court with its surrounding colonnades, all in the same style as the 19th-century building but of concrete instead of stone from the neighbouring hills. The Qafas (cage), to which female worshippers were formerly restricted, has been dismantled, while, apart from minor repairs, the southern (main) part of the mosque has remained intact. It comprises the three ornamental iron structures representing the houses of the Prophet and containing respectively (according to general consensus) the tomb of the Prophet himself under the great green dome, those of the first two caliphs, Abū Bakr and ʿUmar, and that of the Prophet's daughter Fāṭimah. A specially adorned section of the pillared southern colonnade represents the palm grove (Al Rawdha) in which the first simple mosque was built.

      The modernization of Medina has not been so rapid as that of Jidda, Riyadh, and other Saudi towns. Building development has involved the complete dismantlement of the old city wall and the merging of that historic area with the now built-up pilgrim camping ground (al-Manakh) and the Anbariya quarter, beyond the Abu-Jidaʿ torrent bed, which was formerly the commercial quarter and in which the Turks established the railway station and terminal yards. The foundations of the old city wall were found to be lower than the surface of accumulated silt and rubble; but unfortunately no attempt has been made to examine the excavations from the archaeological point of view. Nor has any archaeological work been done on the ruined sites of the old Jewish settlements, the largest of which was Yathrib (the Lathrippa or Iathrippa of Ptolemy and Stephanus Byzantius), which gave its name to the whole oasis until Islāmic times. There are also several interesting mounds (ʿitm), besides the village of al-Quraidha, which would certainly produce historical data of interest. The Islāmic cemetery of al-Baqiya (Baki al-Gharkad) was shorn of all the domes and ornamentation of the tombs of the saints at the time of the Wahhābī conquest of 1925; simple concrete graves in place of the old monuments and a circuit wall have been installed.

The people
      The residents of Medina are Arabic-speaking Muslims, most of whom belong to the Sunnah branch of Islām. The city is one of the most populous in Saudi Arabia, and it is common for Muslims who make the pilgrimage to settle in the city. Farming and pottery making are important occupations.

The economy
      To supplement the income derived from accommodating pilgrims, Medina has an economy based on the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and cereals. The city is especially well known for its date palms, the fruits of which are processed and packaged for export at a plant built in 1953.

      Mechanical pumps for irrigation, in use since Turkish times early in the 20th century, have virtually replaced the old draw wells. Drinking water is supplied by an aqueduct from a spring at the southern end of the oasis. In addition to the plentiful supply of subsoil water at no great depth, a number of important wadis meet in the vicinity of Medina and bring down torrents of water during the winter rains. Of these the most notable are the Wadi al-ʿAqiq from the western mountains and a wadi coming down from the aṭ-Tāʾif area to the south.

      Although Medina was known in early Islāmic times for metal working, jewelry, and armory, these industries were never large-scale and most activity was connected with agricultural technology until the mid-20th century. Principal activities include automobile repair, brick and tile making, carpentry, and metal working.

      From 1908 to 1916 Medina was connected with Damascus by the Hejaz railway, destroyed during World War I. Reconstruction of this railroad is studied periodically, but has never taken place. Asphalt roads link the city with Jidda, Mecca, and Yanbuʿ (Medina's port on the Red Sea); another road extends north through the Hejaz and connects the city to Jordan. Al-Jiladain airport nearby provides transportation to Saudi Arabian centres and has links to Jordan, Egypt, and Syria.

History
      The earliest history of Medina is obscure, though it is known that there were Jewish (Jew) settlers there in pre-Christian times. But the main influx of Jews would seem to have taken place as the result of their expulsion from Palestine by the Roman emperor Hadrian in about AD 135. It is probable that the Arab tribes of Aws and Khazraj were then in occupation of the oasis; but the Jews were the dominant factor in the population and development of the area by AD 400. In that year Abi-kariba Asʿad, the Sabaean king of Yemen, visited the colony and imbibed the lore and teaching of the Jewish rabbis with the result that he adopted the religion of the Jews and made it the state religion of Yemen on his return, in supersession of the local paganism. The Yemeni Jews, who in 1949 emigrated to Israel, are mostly descendants of the Arabs then converted. On September 20, 622, the arrival of the Prophet Muḥammad (Muhammad) at Medina, in flight from Mecca, introduced a new chapter into the history of the oasis. This flight, known as the Hijrah (commonly transliterated higira), marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Soon thereafter, the Jews, at first treated with indulgence, were driven out of all their settlements in Hejaz. Medina became the administrative capital of the steadily expanding Islāmic (Islāmic world) state, a position it maintained until 661, when it was superseded in that role by Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphs.

      After the caliph's sack of the city in 683 for its fractiousness, the native emirs enjoyed a fluctuating measure of independence, interrupted by the aggressions of the sharīfs of Mecca or controlled by the intermittent Egyptian protectorate.

      The Turks, following their conquest of Egypt, held Medina after 1517 with a firmer hand, but their rule weakened and was almost nominal long before the Wahhābīs, an Islāmic puritanical group, first took the city in 1804. A Turko-Egyptian force retook it in 1812, and the Turks remained in effective control until the revival of the Wahhābī movement under Ibn Saʿūd after 1912. Between 1904 and 1908 the Turks built the Hejaz railroad to Medina from Damascus in an attempt at strengthening the empire and ensuring Ottoman control over the ḥajj, the obligatory Muslim pilgrimage to the nearby holy city of Mecca. Turkish rule ceased during World War I, when Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī, the sharīf of Mecca, revolted and put the railroad out of commission, with the assistance of the British officer T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”). Ḥusayn later came into conflict with Ibn Saʿūd, and in 1925 the city fell to the Saʿūd dynasty.

Sir John Bagot Glubb Ed.

Additional Reading
Literature about Medina is available mainly in Arabic, and writings on Medina often include coverage of Mecca as well. For pre-Islāmic and early Islāmic times, see A.I. al-Sharif, Makkah wa-al-Madīnah (1965). For the Middle Ages, see Ibn Jubayr, The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. . . , written in the 12th century, trans. by R.J.C. Broadhurst (1952); and Ibn Batuta, Travels, A.D. 1325–1354 , written in the 14th century, trans. by H.A.R. Gibb (1958). Other English-language accounts include John L. Burckhardt, Travels in Arabia (1829); Sir Richard Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah, 5th ed., 3 vol. (1906); Eldon Rutter, The Holy Cities of Arabia (1928); J.B. Philby, A Pilgrim in Arabia (1946); John Sabini, Armies in the Sand: The Struggle for Mecca and Medina (1981).; and M.s. Makki, Medina, Saudi Arabia: A Geographic Analysis of the City and Region (1982). For statistics, see the Statistical Yearbook (annual), published by the Central Department of Statistics, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Assʿad Sulaiman Abdo Sir John Bagot Glubb

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Universalium. 2010.

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