Why was Medina chosen as the place for the Muslims to migrate to? The city of Medina had many blessings and after the prophet migrated Allah granted it even more – so much so that it became comparable even to Mecca. And we shall look at those blessings:
First of all, its name: Medina used to be called Yathrib before the prophet Muhammad ﷺ changed it. Now the name Yathrib either comes from the word meaning ‘to criticise’ or ‘corruption’, which is clearly a bad name. And the reason it was called this was because of an old Arab superstition that in order to counter the evil eye you should call something badly, such as calling your own child ugly when someone else called them handsome. This is not the Islamic way to counter evil eye, and the prophet also did not like bad names and so changed the name of Yathrib to ‘Al-Medina’, meaning ‘The City’.
But this was not the only name of the city. It is narrated that it had over 100 names given to it, and as we know when the Arabs valued something they gave it many names. And so Medina has the most names out of any city, however the prophet only called it two or three things. And two of the other names that he used were Thaaba and Thayba, which means ‘The Pure’, and we can see this is the opposite of the old name Yathrib which meant ‘Corruption’.
But why was Medina chosen as the next hometown of Islam?
It has a very strategic location – It is reasonably close to Mecca but not too close.
It is a well-fortified city – It is protected from three sides naturally. On the East and West there are two volcanic plains, which is very uneven and impossible to bring an army over. On the southern side – the side closest to Mecca – is a very thick forest of date palms which an army can also not pass through. And so in the Battle of the Trench there was only one side that needed to be protected, and this was where the trench was famously dug.
The people of Medina had never been conquered before – This gave the people a fighting spirit and independence that was necessary for it to be the refuge of Islam.
The Battle of Bu’ath meant that the people of Medina were willing to accept Islam – The culmination of the civil war between the Aws and the Khazraj wiped out the senior leadership of both tribes, leaving behind a younger, more open generation who were sick of war and desired change.
The prophet had a direct blood relation to the people of Medina – Abdul Muttalib’s mother – Salma – was actually from Medina, and so the prophet was actually a second cousin of some of the people there. And this is something that could only have been planned by Allah, as out of all of the cities of Arabia the prophet is related to the city which he migrated into. And so the people of Medina did not see the prophet as a stranger but as a relative (remember that they would study lineage very carefully and so would know that he was related to them) and so they were more comfortable in accepting him as their leader.
The Arab tribes of Medina were Qahtaani – Remember that the Qahtaani and Adnaani Arabs were the two different types of Arabs at the time, and there was tension between these two peoples. And of all of the tribes near to Mecca all of them were Adnaani except for the Aws and the Khazraj. And so in the migration to Medina we can see that for the first time the Qahtaani and Adnaani Arabs were coming together to form the new Islam state, and for this reason no one could claim that Islam was only for the Adnaani Arabs and oppose it for nationalistic reasons,.
Medina was one of the only places in Arabia with Jews – And this meant that the Arab tribes of Medina knew what a monotheistic religion was like, and understood these concepts that were so foreign to the rest of Arabia. And the Jews would flout their religion and unity to the Arabs – and as we know one cannot convert to Judaism – and so when Islam came the Arabs of Medina understood it and were much more willing to convert.
The city of Medina also has many other blessings:
The prophet made du’a to Allah to give him love for Medina – ‘O Allah, cause us to love Medina as much as we love Mecca or even more than this.’
Dajjaal will not be able to enter Medina – He will try to enter Medina to destroy it, but he will be met with two large angels at the door who will not let him in.
No plague can ever infest Medina
Medina is the second Haram in Islam – The prophet made a du’a, ‘O Allah, your slave and khaleel Ibrahim declared Mecca a Haram. And I too am your slave and your messenger, so I too make du’a to you to make Medina a Haram.’ Now there are only two Harams in Islam, that of Mecca and Medina. And many people get confused and assume that Bayt Al-Maqdis and Masjid Al-Aqsa are also Harams, however although they are extremely blessed and sacred lands, they are not Harams. But what is a Haram exactly. It comes from the word haraam meaning forbidden, and it is essentially a sacred area of land where things that are normally halal become haraam. Carrying weapons (unless it’s for a necessity such as for armed guards), bringing an army in, killing any free living creature – even a blade of grass or a leaf – or just desiring to cause any harm is all completely forbidden inside of the Harams.
The reward for praying inside of Medina is 1000 times that of normal – Although in Mecca it is actually 100000 that of a normal salah.
The prophet said, ‘Imaan returns to Medina like a desert animal returns to its hole.’ – So Medina is where Islam is protected at all times.
Medina is protected against the plots of its enemies – A narration by the prophet declares that whoever commits a crime in Medina or helps a criminal in Medina will have the curses of Allah and the curses of the angles and the curses of all of mankind. And Allah shall not accept from him any obligatory or optional deed.
The prophet will be an intercessor on the Day of Judgement for anyone who is patient at the difficulties of Medina – Medina can be difficult to live in due to the extremes of hot and cold. And also in earlier times – since food was seasonal – whenever it was not the date season it was difficult to find food.
It is blessed to die in Medina – The prophet will be an intercessor for anyone who dies in Medina. And there is a famous hadith of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA) who used to make the du’a, ‘O Allah, I want to die a shaheed and I want to die in Medina.’ And his own son would ask how this was possible, as if he wanted to die a shaheed then he would have to go the edge of the Muslim empire where the fighting was happening. But Allah accepted his du’a, and Umar’s death came from assassination in Medina making him a shaheed.
And the graveyard of Medina, Al-Baqi’ Al-Gharqad, is the most blessed graveyard in the world. Over 10000 sahabi and many other important early Islamic figures are buried in there, including the prophet’s own son Ibrahim and all of the nine wives of the prophet excluding Khadija and Maymunah bint Al-Harith (RA). And the prophet made a special du’a for Al-Baqi’ Al-Gharqad.
And so we can see the numerous reasons that Allah chose Medina to be the place of emigration for the Muslims, and why it became the centre of the new Islamic state. And we see the many benefits and blessings Medina has as a city, so much so that is actually the second Haram of our religion and we should value it as much as we value Mecca, and love it as the prophet loved it.
Dr.Yasir Qadhi’s Seerah of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 028