Medina (also Madinah) is a city of more than 1 million inhabitants in the Hijaz (western) region of Saudi Arabia. For Muslims, it is considered the second holiest city after Mecca. It was an important haven and base for the prophet Muhammad during the early formation of Islam, and its significance as a religious and pilgrimage site continues today. The term medina itself simply means “city” in Arabic, and the full name al-Medina al-Munawwara (“Radiant City”) is often used in the Arab world. The city is also sometimes known as Medinat an-Naby (“City of the Prophet”) or Medinat ar-Rasul (“City of the Messenger”) by Muslims.

Before Muhammad's arrival, the oasis town was inhabited by a number of rival Arab and Jewish tribes. At that time, it ...

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