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Al-Medina al-Munawwara (the Lighted City) also known as Madina an-Nabi (the city of the Prophet), is located in Hijaz, on the western part of Saudi Arabia, some four hundred kilometers north of Mecca. Medina has a population of about 600 000 inhabitants. Medina is second to Mecca in spiritual importance among Muslims. The presence of the Prophet`s Mosque (masjid al-Nabawi), the burial place of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and many other historical sites in Medina attract millions of visitors every year.
Medina became a city of religious importance with the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in it in the year 622 A.D. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions (R) were persecuted in Makkah for practising and preaching a monotheistic religion, that is, Islam which is diametrically opposed to the polytheistic religion of the Makkans of the Jahiliya period. As Islam began to have a greater influence among the Arabs of Makkah, the Qureish tribe who were the guardians of the Ka`ba and the 360 idols around it, feared that they would lose their privileged position among the Arabs. They devised all means to stop the spread of Islam which is threatening their social, economic and religious status. They intensified their persecutions on the the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R) to such an extent that the latter were compelled to leave their beloved homeland, their dear ones, and their belongings behind and migrated to Medina to be able to practise their religion. This event is such an important one in the history of Islam that during the caliphate of Umar bin Khattab (R), the caliph chose this event to mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
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