Medina (in Arabic, Al-Madinah), known as the ‘Radiant City’ and also as the ‘City of the Prophet,’ is one of the holiest places in Islam, second only to Mecca. The population of over 918,000 is located in the Hejaz region of Western Saudi Arabia about 100 miles inland from the Red Sea. The city is often referred to by its short name ‘al-Madina’ meaning the ‘City,’ but was formerly known as ‘Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah.’ The holy city is home to many famous mosques, including the three oldest mosques in Islam.
When Muhammad, the founder of the Islam religion, was driven out of Mecca in AD 622, he fled to Medina. It was in this city that he first attracted followers and where so many mosques were built.
Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (means Mosque of the Prophet) – This mosque was built at the site of Muhammad’s home and it is also the place of his burial. Located over the center of Muhammad’s tomb, it has a green dome which is known as the ‘Dome of the Prophet.’ This mosque is considered the chief mosque in Medina and probably the reason that it is the second holiest site for Islam.
Quba Mosque – The Quba Mosque is the first mosque built in Islam. When the prophet Muhammad went to Medina, he first arrived at ‘Bani Amr bin Awf’ for three days. As a result, he built a mosque there.
Masjid al-Quiblatain Mosque – In this mosque, the qibla (direction in which a Muslim prays during salah) was changed.
There are other mosques in Medina such as the Jumuah Mosque. When Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina, he made a short stop to perform the Friday prayer at the site where the Jumuah Mosque is located. Another mosque located in Medina is the Ghamma Mosque. This was once an open-air area where Muhammad held Eid prayers. The name ‘ghamam’ means clouds in Arabic, and the name was used for this mosque because it is there that the prophet prayed for rainfall and it did rain hard afterward.
These are just a few of the many famous mosques in Medina. The city is home to many more mosques, and every year millions of people make pilgrimages to see these very old and holy places. Because Medina is considered such a sacred place, only Muslims are allowed to enter the city. The airport, however, is not within the city’s sacred limits so those flying overhead can see the city from the air.