Medina

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MEDINA

MEDINA (Ar. Madīna ; ancient name, Yathrib ), city in fertile valley of the *Hejaz in northern *Arabia. Along with *Tayma and *Khaybar, Medina was a leading Jewish community in ancient Arabia. Prior to the expulsion of most of Medina Jewry by *Muhammad (620s) the oasis was largely inhabited by Jews. According to legend, the Jewish community dates from Moses' war against the Amalekites, the Babylonian Exile (c. 586 b.c.e.), Antiochus iv's persecutions, and the defeat by Rome (70 c.e.). In any case, by the early centuries of the Christian era the population of Medina consisted mostly of Jewish tribes (according to some Arabs, up to 20 tribes), either of Judean-Palestinian, mixed Judeo-Arabic, or Arab proselyte origin. Remains of their life survive, including castles, courtyards, and wells, the first of which were dug by the *Naḍīr tribe who inhabited the best lands and cultivated date palms west of the city. The two other major tribes were the *Qurayẓa, who occupied an area in the southeastern part of the town, and the *Qaynuqāʿ, who were among the earliest settlers and resided in the central market. Other tribes included the Thalaba (northeast of the city) and the Anī, a tribe of Arab proselytes who lived in the Qubā area (south of Medina). There was a continuous Arab migration to the area and many Arab tribes assimilated into the Jewish milieu, accepting Judaism and acquiring skills such as writing, which up to that time was known only by Jews. The two major Arab tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj, settled in the area, coming from South Arabia in the middle of the fifth century. They came because the breaking of the Maʾrib dam had ruined their lands. Some of the Arabs lived among the Jews, others in areas far from Jewish settlement. They were subjects of the Jewish tribes. The Khazraj gained some independence from the Jews in later times after a bloody battle, which according to legends broke out as a result of the Jewish king Faytun's demand to exercise the jus primae noctis on Arab subjects. Henceforth domination of Medina gradually passed to Arabs; the Jewish tribes aligned themselves with the Aws or the Khazraj, who threatened to confiscate the Naḍīr lands. Fighting between these two major tribes and their Jewish clients (Naḍīr and Qurayẓa with Aws; the Qaynuqāʿ with the Khazraj) characterized the sixth century and is recalled in Arabic poetry, including that of the Jew *Samuel b. Adiya. The bloody battles ended with the victory of the Aws and peaceful settlement with the Khazraj. Shortly before Muhammad's arrival in Medina the Jewish population had reached between 8,000 and 10,000, forming a majority of the city's inhabitants. The presence of so large and vital a Jewish community (though Arabic in language, customs, and behavior) provided an atmosphere conducive to the acceptance of monotheism among Arabs. Hence, Muhammad's message found a receptive audience among many Arabs and a few Jews. Most Jews, however, scorned Muhammad, deriding his prophetic pretensions and adaptations of biblical material. Concerned about the effect of such vehement opposition, Muhammad began to expel the Jewish tribes with whom he had formerly signed an agreement. The Qaynuqā and the Nadīr were expelled from Medina in 624 and 626, respectively. The Qurayẓa men were annihilated in 627 and the women and children were sold into slavery. The Jewish tribes apparently did not assist one another or unite against the common enemy, each meeting its fate as an individual tribe. The small Jewish population which remained in Medina was powerless and could not cause Muhammad much trouble. The community eventually dwindled and died out.

bibliography:

Baron, Social2, 3 (1957), 60–80; H.Z. Hirschberg, Yisrael ba-Arav (1946), index; H. Hirschfeld, in: rej, 7 (1883), 167–93; 10 (1885), 10–31; S.D. Goitein, in: Tarbiz, 3 (1932), 410–22; A. Katsh, Judaism and the Koran (1954), index; W.M. Watt, Muhammad at Medina (1956), 192–220; M. ibn Isḥāq, Life of Muhammad, tr. by A. Guillaume (1955), index; J.M. Landau, The Hejaz Railway and the Muslim Pilgrimage (1971); N. Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands: A History and Source Book (1979); G. Newby, A History of the Jews of Arabia: From Ancient Times to Their Eclipse under Islam (1988); M. Cohen and A. Udovitch, Jews among Arabs: Contacts and Boundaries (1989); M. Lecker, Muslims, Jews and Pagans: Studies on Early Islamic Medina (1995); idem, "Zayd b. Thābit, 'A Jew with Two Sidelocks': Judaism and Literacy in Pre-Islamic Medina (Yathrib)," in: jnes, 56 (1997).

[Ze'ev A. Maghen (2nd ed.)]

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MEDINA

A city (Arabic al-Madīna ), originally named Yathrib, in the east-central Hejaz, some 210 miles north of mecca; the residence of muhammad and his followers after the Hegira. The area around the city is extremely fertile and well watered and is known for its orchards of date palms, oranges, lemons, figs, etc. The original settlement was an unwalled agricultural community. Well before Islam, although at an uncertain date, the town came to be settled by three Jewish tribes, the Qaynūqā', Qurayza, and Nadīr, who possessed the city and cultivated its lands; it is probably they who first gave it the originally Aramaic name, al-Madīna, by which was meant "the (chief or preeminent) city"; in the time of Mohammed it was called both Medina and Yathrib. Later, with the immigration of two Arab tribes, the 'Aws and Khazrag', there ensued a continual and bloody struggle between the various factions, who finally negotiated to bring Mohammed to Medina from Mecca as an arbiter of the feuds. Following his death, it was up to the caliphate of Ali (Alī), the capital of Islam. Later, particularly from the tenth century, its political importance declined until it became briefly the capital of the Kingdom of Hejaz under Husayn ibn Alī, from 1919 to 1924, after which it fell to the wahhĀbis under Abdal'azīz ibn Suūd. It has been, since the time of the Prophet, one of the chief religious centers of Islam; the mosque over the tomb of the Prophet is one of the principal shrines of the Muslim world.

[r. m. frank]

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Medina (mĬdē´nə), Arabic Medinat an-Nabi [city of the Prophet] or Madinat Rasul Allah [city of the apostle of Allah], city (1993 pop. 608,226), Hejaz, W Saudi Arabia. It is situated c.110 mi (180 km) inland from the Red Sea in a well-watered oasis where fruit, dates, vegetables, and grain are raised. Before the flight (Hegira) of Muhammad from Mecca to the city in 622, Medina was called Yathrib. Muhammad quickly gained control of Medina, successfully defended it against attacks from Mecca, and used it as the base for converting and conquering Arabia. Medina grew rapidly until 661, when the Umayyad dynasty transferred the capital of the caliphate to Damascus. Thereafter Medina was reduced to the rank of a provincial town, ruled by governors appointed by the distant caliphs. Local warfare drained the city's prosperity. It came under the sway of the Ottoman Turks in 1517. The Wahhabis captured it in 1804, but it was retaken for the Turks by Muhammad Ali in 1812. In World War I the forces of Husayn ibn Ali, who revolted against Turkey, captured Medina. In 1924 it fell to Ibn Saud, Husayn's rival, after a 15-month siege. The city is surrounded by double walls flanked by bastions and pierced by nine gates. The chief building is the Prophet's Mosque, which contains the tombs of Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, and the caliphs Umar and Abu Bakr. The pilgrimage to Mecca (see hajj) usually includes a side trip to Medina. Medina is the seat of Islamic Univ. (1962).

See E. Esin, Mecca, the Blessed; Madinah, the Radiant (1963); M. S. Makki, Medina, Saudi Arabia: A Geographic Analysis of the City and Region (1982).

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MEDINA

city in saudi arabia, second to mecca as a holy site to muslims.

Located in Hijaz, about 100 miles from the Red Sea and 215 miles north of Mecca, Medina is revered by Muslims as the prophet Muhammad's destination after his emigration (hijra in Arabic) from Mecca in 622 c.e., and as the site of his tomb. Although it is not mandatory, many pilgrims to Mecca also visit Medina. The city became the southern terminus of the Ottomans' Hijaz Railway upon its completion in 1908. The site of a major Ottoman garrison during World War I, Medina and the rest of Hijaz came under Hashimite rule after the empire's defeat. The city's high walls were the last refuge of the Hashimites, and Medina was the last city in Hijaz to fall to the attacking forces of Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd alRahman Al Saʿud in 1926, after which many of the city's historical monuments and tombs were destroyed because the conservative religious allies of Abd al-Aziz found them offensive.


Relatively abundant water has enabled Medina to have an important agricultural hinterland, with dates the main crop. However, the growth of the city during the oil era and diversion of water to other uses has caused agriculture to suffer. The annual pilgrimage provides an important source of income, as do trade and the provision of services. Long a center of Islamic learning, the city now hosts the Islamic University of Medina. A 2000 estimate put the city's population at 891,000.

see also islam; mecca; muhammad.

Bibliography


Makki, Mohamed S. Medina, Saudi Arabia: A Geographic Analysis of the City and the Region. New York: Prometheus Books, 1984; Aversham, U.K.: Avebury, 1982.

Watt, W. M., and Winder, R. B. "Al-Madina." In Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. 5, edited by C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, B. Lewis, and C. Pellat. Leiden, Neth.: Brill, 1986.

anthony b. toth

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Medina City in Saudi Arabia, n of Mecca. Originally called Yathrib, it was renamed Medinat an-Nabi (‘Prophet's city’) after Muhammad fled Mecca and settled here in 622. Medina became his capital. In 661, the Umayyad caliphs moved their capital to Damascus, and Medina's importance declined. It came under Turkish rule (1517–1916), before briefly forming part of the independent Arab kingdom of the Hejaz. In 1932, it became part of Saudi Arabia. Pop. (2002) 818,800.

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Medina a city in western Saudi Arabia, which was the refuge of Muhammad's infant Muslim community from its removal from Mecca in ad 622 until its return there in 630. It was renamed Medina, meaning ‘city’, by Muhammad and made the capital of the new Islamic state until it was superseded by Damascus in 661. It is Muhammad's burial place and the site of the first Islamic mosque, constructed around his tomb. It is considered by Muslims to be the second most holy city after Mecca, and a visit to the prophet's tomb at Medina often forms a sequel to the formal pilgrimage to Mecca.

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MEDINA

Second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca. This little Arabian oasis, formerly called Yathrib, is where the prophet Muhammad emigrated in 622

C.E., fleeing the hostility of the Meccans, when he began his teaching of the Muslim faith. After the Muslim conquest of Mecca, the oasis changed its name to Medinat al-Nabi (the City of the Prophet, in Arabic).

SEE ALSO Mecca; Muhammad.

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Medina (mədī´nə), city (1990 pop. 19,231), seat of Medina co., N Ohio; laid out 1818, inc. as a city 1950. It is a processing point in a farm area. Paints, roofing, and industrial products are manufactured and aluminum and lumber are processed.

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Medīna: see MADĪNA, AL-.