History of Madina: The city’s journey from idolatry to commencement of Islam.

Madina- the city of Prophet Mohammad is the chief of all cities. Allah has granted this city with the honor of being superior from the rest of the cities. It is the most beloved part of the world and the center of attention of the universe. This is why, this city is honored to be the home of Prophet Mohammad during his life and also after he passed away. It is the holy land whose air is saturated with the fragrance of the sacred tomb of Prophet Mohammad. In fact, it seems like the blessings of Allah are poured on this city every moment.

Other names of Madina

The city of Madina is called Madinat al-Rasool (meaning: the city of Prophet) in correspondence to Prophet Mohammad. As the holy Prophet resided here after migration and is also his burial place. There are some other honorary names of this city which are as follows:

  • Taibah
  • Al-Dara
  • Dar Al-Eiman
  • Harm-e-Rasool
  • Balad-e-Rasool

(Reference: Shehr-e-Madina Aur Ziarat e Rasool (s.a.w) by Dr. Tahir ul Qadiri)

Madina is also al-Haram like Makkah

  • Abdullah ibn Zaid relates that Prophet Mohammad said:

“Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) made Makkah a sanctuary and asked Allah’s blessing in it. I make Madina, a sanctuary as Abraham made Makkah a sanctuary and I ask Allah’s blessing in its measures as Abraham did for Makkah. (Sahi Bukhari-2129)

  • Abdullah ibn Abbas relates that Prophet Mohammad said:

“Every Prophet has a sanctuary and my sanctuary is Madina.”

(Reference: Shehr-e-Madina Aur Ziarat e Rasool (s.a.w) by Dr. Tahir ul Qadiri)

Madina is Supreme Because of Prophet Mohammad

  • A famous scholar, Ali ibn Ahmad al-Samhudi said the following about the supremacy of Madina:

“Every innerself (nafs) is created from the clay in which it is buried after death. Allah created the sacred self of Prophet Mohammad with the supreme clay of Madina. This is why, the soil of Madina is considered the greatest of all on the earth.” (Samhudi, wafa al-wafa 32)

  • Just like Allah poured His blessings in the sacred life of Prophet Mohammad every moment similarly, He will protect the dear city of His Beloved from every calamity.
  • Abu Huraira narrates that Prophet Mohammad said:

“The angels are guarding Madina. Neither ad-Dajjal can enter this city nor can cholera like pandemic can penetrate the city.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Ahmad bin Hanbal)

(Reference: Shehr-e-Madina Aur Ziarat e Rasool (s.a.w) by Dr. Tahir ul Qadiri)

  • Anas bin Malik narrates that Prophet Mohammad said the following:

There will be no town in which Ad-Dajjal will not enter except Makkah and Madina.  And there will be no entrance (road) of both Makkah and Madina) but the angels will be standing in rows guarding it against him. Then Madina will shake with its inhabitants thrice (i.e. three earthquakes will take place) and Allah will expel all non-believers and hypocrites from it. (Sahih Bukhari Hadith no. 1881)

 (Reference: Shehr-e-Madina Aur Ziarat e Rasool (s.a.w) by Dr. Tahir ul Qadiri)

Madina Before Islam

Mohammad Abdul Mabood writes in his book Tareekh Madina Munawara (History of Madina):

The old name of Madina Manawara was ‘Yathrib’. This city came into existence in 2200 BC. Syed Abdullah bin Abbas says,

Eighty people got off Noah’s ark. These people resided in the surroundings of Babul, later this town was famously called ‘Souq us Sumanain’. Initially they spoke Syriac language. Then they started speaking seventy-two different languages. Later, Allah Almighty taught them the Arabic language. Firstly, Aad and Abeel used the Arabic language. When more people followed them, they made Nimrod bin Cnaan bin Haam their ruler. Of them were also Aad and Abeel who were the sons of Awz bin Irum bin Saam bin Noah.

Abu al-Qasim says that Yathrib ibn Qaniya ibn Mahlael ibn Irum ibn Abeel ibn Awz ibn Irum ibn Saam ibn Noah was pioneer in residing Madina. Therefore, people named the town Yathrib after him. According to some narrations, Amalqah and Jurhum were residing in Yemen. But due to extreme drought, residents of Yemen migrated to Tahama. And some of their clans landed in Yathrib.

(Reference: Tareekh Madina Munawara by Mohammad Abdul Mamood)

Arrival of Children of Israel in Madina

  The children of Israel were acquainted with the knowledge of Torah. In this book, they had read about the ‘the land of migration’ of the last Prophet Mohammad. They had read how this city will be bloomed and prosperous. Therefore, in search of the ‘land of migration’, a group from the children of Israel first settled in Tahama city. However, they did not find aforesaid signs of Prophet Mohammad’s city there. Thus, some people then settled in Khyber. But to their despair, they could not find the signs of Prophet’s city there as well. Finally, one group made their way to Yathrib and on seeing the city and the surroundings, they quickly realized that this city will be the ‘land of migration’ of the beloved last Prophet Mohammad. The group that landed in Yathrib were from the clan of Qariza and Nazir. They then flourished agriculture and gardening in Yathrib.

Migration of Aws and Khazraj to Madina

The tribes of Aws and Khazraj consisted of elite clans. Every tribe had large number of people, averaging five persons per clan. There were five tribes of Aws and Khazraj each. They belonged to Yemen. There was an exquisite water dam in Yemen which was in danger of shattering. Thus, to save their lives and belongings people evacuated Yemen and migrated to Makkah. However, they faced financial challenges there, so eventually they landed in Yathrib. At the time, mainly Jews occupied Yathrib. The immigrants resided in the suburbs of the city. But Allah Almighty flourished immigrants and they earned respect among people. They used their self-power, eradicated Jews from the city and conquered Yathrib. This is how the dawn of the tribe Aws and Khazraj rose in Madina.

Initiation of Islam in Madina

At the time of commencement of prophethood, disbelievers and non-Muslims prevailed everywhere. This was not only in Quraysh but in all over the world. Thus, the light of Allah glorified the sky of Makkah in the form of Prophet Mohammad. As soon as Prophet Mohammad declared his prophethood, the non-believers started opposing. They tried to blow away the Divine light with the darkness of paganism and disbelief.  Prophet Mohammad tried his best to raise the flag of Islam and oneness of Allah. He also utilized the grand gathering of Hajj as a platform and addressed to the masses to convey the message of Allah.

Meanwhile, the tribe of Aws and Khazraj faced financial crises. This forced them to make an agreement with Quraysh. In the eleventh year of prophethood, on the event of Hajj some people from the tribe Khazraj came from Yathrib. Then one night they went to the court of Prophet Mohammad. After a short introduction, Prophet Mohammad propounded to them the doctrines of Islam and recited few verses from Holy Quran and invited them to accept Islam.

People from Tribe Aws and Khazraj Embraced Islam

The spiel of Prophet Mohammad provoked a thought in the minds of the people of Khazraj tribe. In fact, they were impressed to see Prophet’s kindness and majesty.  So, they started wondering, “Is this the last Prophet about whom Jews warned us? That under his leadership, they will destroy the tribes of Aws and Khazraj.” After mutual discussion, they concluded that they should embrace Islam on the hands of Prophet Mohammad and enrich themselves with the wealth of faith before Jews.

On this historical event, Ali ibn Abi Talib and Abu Bakr were also present with Prophet Mohammad. When this caravan went back to Yathrib, they shared their delightful experience of embracing Islam on the hands of the last Prophet for whom the world awaited for so long. They felt delighted and blessed to be able to see the Divine countenance of Prophet Mohammad. Soon Prophet Mohammad was the topic of discussion in every home of Yathrib.

Prophet Mohammad Bestowed People of Madina with a Title

Next year twelve chiefs from the tribes of Aws and Khazraj went to the court of Prophet Mohammad and accepted Islam. Everyone willingly and fervently took oath of allegiance on the hands of Prophet Mohammad. Then Prophet bestowed them with the title of ‘Ansar’ (the Helpers). Upon their request, Prophet sent Mus’ab ibn Umair with the new Muslims to train, guide and educate them. On reaching Madina, he started preaching Islam and also made arrangements of congregational salah for Muslims. When Muslims had made the arrangements, Prophet Mohammad instructed them to offer Friday salah.

(Reference: Tareekh Madina Munawara by Mohammad Abdul Mamood)

Migration to Madina

Muslims had spent thirteen years while bearing the hostilities and resentment of the disbelievers. The response of the invitation to Islam was given with swords and shedding blood. Finally, Allah Almighty permitted Muslims to migrate to Madina, the land that provided shelter to Muslims. The Companions of Prophet Mohammad started migrating to Madina. However, Prophet Mohammad stayed in Makkah, waiting for Allah’s command to migrate. When Quraysh noticed that Muslims are slowly fleeing from Makkah, they determined that Muslims must have found an asylum somewhere. Now they were worried that Prophet Mohammad may also migrate. So, they held a meeting to make plans to kill Prophet Mohammad.

On the other hand, angel Gabriel went to Prophet Mohammad to make him aware of their plans. He told holy Prophet not to sleep in his home that night. Prophet Mohammad received Divine direction to depart from Makkah right away. Therefore, he called Ali ibn Abi Talib and directed him, “Lay down on my bed and cover yourself with my green cover up.” Ali followed his directions and Prophet Mohammad left the house. The people of Quraysh had besieged the house of Prophet. When Prophet Mohammad emerged from the house, he threw a handful of dust at the direction of besiegers, rendering the besiegers unable to see him.

(Reference: Tareekh Madina Munawara by Molana Safi ur Rehman from Mubarakpur)

Prophet Mohammad’s Departure from Makkah

On 27th Safar and the thirteenth year of Prophethood, the holy Prophet along with his companion Abu Bakr departed for Madina at night. He said farewell to Kaaba with a hope of returning back.  Prophet Mohammad’s farewell words were as follows:

“Makkah! You were the dearest place for me in the whole world, but your sons won’t let me stay here.”

In the companionship of Abu Bakr, Prophet Mohammad took shelter in the cave of the mount Thawr for three days. Then he departed towards his destination, Madina.

Excitement of the People of Madina on Prophet Mohammad’s Arrival

The news of Prophet’s arrival in Madina had spread everywhere. People keenly waited in the outskirts of Madina to look for Prophet Mohammad coming to the city. One day, after waiting for him, Ansar had gone back to their houses in Madina. A Jew by chance witnessed a small caravan coming towards Madina. Guessing it to be the caravan of Prophet Mohammad, he instinctively cried on top of his lungs, “O people of Arab! Your Prophet has arrived.”

Having heard this call, Ansar rushed out of their dwellings, over-joyed to welcome Prophet to their city. A wave of joy emerged, and the atmosphere echoed with “Allahu Akbar!”– “Allah is Great!”

Prophet Mohammad’s Stay in Quba

About three miles from the Southwest of Madina, resided several tribes of Ansar. This town was famously called Quba. Among these tribes, the family of Amr bin Auf was well reputed and privileged.  The chief of this tribe was Khulthum bin Hadm. On Allah’s command, Prophet Mohammad stayed at his house. The whole family was in boundless joy and cried ‘Allahu Akbar! Allah Akbar!’ in great fervor.

Prophet Mohammad stayed in Quba for fourteen days before leaving for Madina.

(Reference: Tareekh al-Madina, Mohammad Abdul Mamood)

Prophet Mohammad’s Arrival in Madina

On arrival in Madina, Banu Najjar and a huge crowd of Muslims surrounded Prophet Mohammad. People amid great rejoice and wanted him to stay at their house. Whenever, Prophet’s camel stopped in front of someone’s house, the inhabitants requested Prophet to be their guest. However, Prophet Mohammad replied,

“Let the reins of the camel lose, she will stop at the command of Allah.”

The camel of Prophet, ‘Qaswa’, kept on going and stopped in front of the house of Abu Ayub Ansari, in the town of Banu Malik bin Najjar.

About the excitement of Ansar on the arrival of Prophet, Bar’a bin Azib said,

“I had never seen the people of Madina as happy as they were upon the arrival of Prophet Mohammad.”

Bond Between Ansar And Muhajireen

Prophet Mohammad got people of Madina (Ansar) and the immigrants (Muhajireen) together and united them in the common bond of brotherhood of Islam. He made all believers each other’s brother. As Allah says in sura al-Hujurat:

Meaning: The truth is that (all) believers are brothers (to one another). [49:10]

Shortly after Muslims gathered in Madina, discord and differences arose because of hypocrites and Jews. Therefore, Prophet Mohammad, exiled Jews out of Madina.

Prophet Mohammad set the Foundation of Mosque an-Nabvi

When Prophet arrived in Madina, he stayed at Amr bin Auf’s house for fourteen days. He offered salah wherever he used to be at the time of salah. Then Prophet Mohammad decided to build a mosque. Hazrat Naafe relates that Abdullah bin Umar told him, “In the era of Prophet Mohammad, Muslims built Mosque an-Nabvi, with raw bricks. And they supported the roof by palm trunks and palm leaves.”

 In different eras, the government of Saudi Arabia expanded the mosque due to increasing number of Muslims gathering there each year.

When Prophet Mohammad passed away, his Companions could not determine where to build his sacred tomb. Eventually, Abu Bakr said, “I have heard Prophet Mohammad say, “A prophet is buried at the place where he passes away.” Therefore, the Companions dug the grave of Prophet Mohammad at the place of bed on which he died. (Musnad Ahmad)

What is the Old Name of Madina?

The old name of Madina was Yathrib. Later, it was changed to Madina in honor or Prophet Mohammad.

What was Madina Before Arrival of Prophet Mohammad?

Before the advent of Islam, the city was known as Yathrib. The city was experiencing demographic problems. Several tribal groups coexisted, descendants of its Arab Jewish founders as well as a number of pagan Arab immigrants divided into two tribes, the Aws and the Khazraj. These tribes had enormous conflicts which they were unable to resolve. Shortly after Prophet Mohammad’s arrival, he set the constitution of Madina. This was an agreement between clans of Madina to end the bitter intertribal fighting between them. In this way Prophet Mohammad set the basis of multi-religious Islamic state in Madina.

The exemplary leadership of Prophet Mohammad converted Yathrib to a sanctuary state, ‘Madina’. Now the need of the era is to keep the glimpse of this exemplary state in front of us. So that we can find solutions to our difficult problems in the best conduct of Prophet Mohammad.


Mahnama Sultan-ul-Faqr (monthly Urdu magazine of Tehreek Dawat-e-Faqr) published the Urdu version of this article in June 2020 issue. The Urdu name of this article is تاریخ مدینہ منورہ. Noreen Abdul Ghafoor Sarwari Qadri originally penned it in Urdu and Fatima Noor Sarwari Qadri translated it in English. She has translated this article in English using the American English vocabulary. If you wish to read it in Urdu, then please visit the following link:

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