Medina is a large city in Saudi Arabia and the second-holiest place in Islam. It is the city of the Messenger of God and where you’ll find some of the oldest mosques in the world and the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed. A site of pilgrimage for millions of Muslims, the centre of the city is off-limits to non-Museums, however, the rest of the city is open up to visitors. So, if you are planning a trip or are just curious to know more, here are some of the most interesting facts about Medina.
7 Interesting Facts about Medina
1. Medina is the fourth biggest city in Saudi Arabia
Medina (officially al Madīnat al Munawwarah) is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia. It is situated about 100 miles (160km) inland from the Red Sea and 275 miles (443km) by road from Mecca. It is the capital of Al Madinah Province. With a population of 1,545,420 (as of 2022), it is the fourth-largest city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh, Jiddah, and Mecca.
2. Medina is the burial place of the Prophet Mohammad
Medina is also known as “the enlightened city” and “the city of the Messenger of God”. It is the second holiest place in Islam after Mecca. This is because it is the burial place of the Prophet Mohammad who gained refuge in the city after he migrated from Mecca. The Prophet Muhammad is buried in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, known in English as The Prophet’s Mosque. This mosque is on a site next to Muhammad’s home.
3. Muhammad fled Mecca to Medina
The Prophet Muhammad arrived in Medina, in flight from Mecca, on the 20th of September in the year 622. The name of the journey from Mecca to Medina is the hijrah or Hegira and the year – 622 – marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. Muhammad fled Mecca to escape persecution. Medina then became the seat of power and the heart of Muhammad’s growing Muslim community. It was the administrative capital of the Islamic state until 661 when the Mu’awiyya transferred the capital to Damascus.
4. Medina is home to the oldest mosque in the world
There are many old mosques in Medina, for instance, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. Muhammad himself helped build Al-Masjid an-Nabawi in 622 CE (1 AH). It was the second mosque that Muhammad constructed in Medina and is the second-largest mosque in the world and the second holiest site in Islam. However, there is an even older mosque in Medina – the Quba Mosque. Records show that Muhammad positioned the mosque’s first stones as soon as he arrived in Medina in 622 CE. This makes it the first mosque of Islam ever built and therefore the oldest mosque in the world.
5. Non-Muslims cannot enter the centre of Medina
Like Mecca, Medina is a sacred place in Islam. As a result, officials forbid non-Muslims from entering Nabawi Square in the centre of the city. This is where the Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi is located. The name of the area closed off to non-Muslims is the haram. However, non-Muslims can visit the outskirts and other areas of Medina.
6. Muslims make a Hajj to Medina
All devout and able Muslims must attempt a Hajj (pilgrimage) to the holy site of The Kaaba in Mecca at least once in their lifetime. During their Hajj, many pilgrims also make the journey to Medina to pray at the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi and visit The Tomb of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe that the rewards of praying in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi are better than 1000 prayers in any other mosque. During Hajj in 2016, more than 300,000 pilgrims visited the mosque in just one day.
7. Medina is famous for its date palms
Saudi Arabia produces an array of fruits, most notably, dates. There are more than 300 varieties of date grown in Saudi Arabia. Medina is world-famous for its date palms and production of dates. These fruits are processed and packaged for export at a plant constructed in 1953.