Medina is the second holiest place for the Muslims after Mecca. It is called the “City of the Prophet” and it is located in the Hejaz region on the western side of Saudi Arabia. According to the Islamic mythology, when Prophet Muhammad was driven out of Mecca, he fled to Medina and it was at Medina that he attracted disciples and followers. Medina is the home of the prophet’s mosque. The Arabic name for the city is ‘Madinat Rasul Allah’ which means ‘the city of the Prophet of Allah’, but the majority of people across the globe, refer to it as just Medina.
There are several lesser known facts relating to the city of Medina. Did you know that Medina has got 95 names? Medina also contains the tombs of the Caliphs or Muslim leaders and Muhammad’s daughter. It is located about 338 kms North of Mecca and about 190 kms from the Red Sea. Medina acquired importance as the second holiest city by virtue of the existence of the Prophet’s Mosque called the ‘Masjid Al Nabawi. This mosque is famous for the fact that it was built on the site of Muhammad’s house and he is also buried here. The city is in the form of an oval and enclosed by a strong wall. It is surrounded by towers and has four gates.
In the year 622 Muhammad was invited to come and stay in Medina and act as a Governor of the province. A number of religious groups were constantly fighting with each other. Muhammad came to Medina, established peace and invited all the warring groups and other people to join the anew religion of Islam. He consolidated his powers, and marched on Mecca. He was able to take it without waging any battle. Even after Mecca was conquered, Medina remained the most important city of Islam for quite a long time.
The Prophet himself participated in the construction of the mosque which was built on the site of his home. He named it ‘My Mosque’ and led prayers in it for a number of years. He said that a single prayer said in this mosque was more than a thousand prayers in any other mosque, barring the Masjid-Al-Haram in Mecca.
The Saudi Arabian Government is diverting funds to Medina for development of the city into a high-tech center. They have plans for turning it into a Knowledge Economic City (KEC) which is aimed at attracting foreign investment and ensuring development of the city. The KEC is being promoted by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) with sponsorship for finance by the private sector. The KEC is located away from the Mosque of the Prophet. One of the strategic alliance partners is Microsoft, who will be setting up a Microsoft Academy that would include a library, trial software, and other learning aids.
Medina boasts of a huge amount of natural resources – mostly date plantations and other cultivations. The area has a hot continental climate with the temperatures ranging from 36°-45°C in summer and 15°–20°C in winter. Some of the prominent places of interest in and around Medina are Masjid Quba, Masjid Juma, Masjid Musallah, Masjid Suqya, and the plains of Badar.