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Medina  (Arabic: المدينة المنورة  or المدينة I; also transliterated as Madīnah; officially al Madīnat al Munawwarah) is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of Muhammad.

Medina was originally known as Yathrib, but later the city's name was changed to Madīnat al-Nabī (مدينة ﺍﻟﻨﺒﻲ ) meaning "city of the prophet") or Al Madīnah al Munawwarah ("the enlightened city" or "the radiant city"). Medina means "city."  Medina contains the tomb of Muhammed, and ranks as the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca.

Medina currently has a population of over 1,300,000 people. It is located at 24.28 N 39.36 E. It is 210 miles north of Mecca and about 120 miles from the Red Sea coast. It is situated in the most fertile spot of all the Hejaz, an oasis formed where the streams of the vicinity converge.  The city forms an oval, surrounded by a strong wall, 30 to 40 feet high, that dates from the 12th century C.E., and is flanked with towers. The wall has  four gates, of which the Bab-al-Salam, or Egyptian gate, is remarkable for its beauty. Beyond the walls of the city, west and south are suburbs consisting of low houses, yards, gardens ,and plantations. These suburbs have also walls and gates. The mosque of the Prophet is in the eastern part of the city and is a small scale version of the Meccan mosque. Its court is almost 500 feet in length, the dome is high and three minarets picturesque. The tomb of the prophet, who died and was buried here in 632 C.E., is enclosed by a screen of iron filigree, at the south side of which the hajji pilgrim goes through his devotions, and is a pilgrimage site for Hajj pilgrims (Hajji). The tombs of Fatima Zahra (Muhammed's daughter) and Abu Bakr (first caliph and the father of his wife Aisha), and of Umar ibn Khattab, the second caliph, are also here. The mosque dates back to the time of Muhammed, but has been twice burned and reconstructed

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: See History of Islam and the Arabs

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Encyclopedia of the Middle East

Note - This encyclopedia is a work in progress. It is far from complete and is being constructed and improved all the time. If you would like to contribute articles or expansions of existing articles, please contact news (at) mideastweb.org.  Suggestions and corrections are welcome. The concise version of this dictionary is at our Middle East Glossary.

Spelling - Spelling of words in Middle-Eastern languages is often arbitrary. There may be many variants of the same name or word such as Hezbollah, Hizbolla, Hisbolla or Husayn and Hussein. There are some conventions for converting words from Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew There are numerous variant renderings of the same Arabic or Hebrew words, such as "Hizbollah," "Hisbulla" etc. It is not possible to find exact equivalents for several letters. 

Pronunciation - Arabic and Hebrew vowels are pronounced differently than in English. "o" is very short. The "a" is usually pronounced like the "a" in market, sometimes as the "a" in "Arafat."  The " 'A " is guttural.  " 'H "- the 'het ('Hirbeh, 'Hebron, 'Hisbollah') designates a sound somewhat similar to the ch in "loch" in Scots pronunciation, but made by touching the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth. The CH should be pronounced like Loch, a more assertive consonant than 'het.

The "Gh" combination, and sometimes the "G," designate a deep guttural sound that Westerners may hear approximately as "r." The "r" sound is always formed with the back of the tongue, and is not like the English "r."

More information: Hebrew, Arabic

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