The City of Madinah (YATHRIB)

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The city of Yathrib or Medinah was an oasis of abundant water and highly fertile soil. Beside numerous groves of date palms, there were vineyards, and lenons, peaches, bananas and orange trees.

The richness of the soil of Yathrib and the abundance of its water had invited. When Jews were driven out of Palestine by the Greeks and the Romans in the early days, they scattered and some of them settled down in nrthern Arabian oases where they introduced organized agriculture and established towns. There of these Jewish tribes settled down in Yathrib exploiting its natural wealth and assuming supremacy over its indigenous pagan Arabs. They were the tribes of Quraidhah, Nadir, and Qainuqa.

View of the City of Madinah at night
View of the City of Madinah at night

It is narrated by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her): When we came to Madinah, it was an unhealthy, uncongenial place. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) fell sick and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) also fell sick; and when Allah’s Messenger (SAW) saw the illness of his Companions he said: “O Allah, make Madinah as beloved to us as you made Makkah beloved or more than that; make it conducive to health, and bless us in its sa’ and mudd’ (two standards of weight and measurement) and transfer its fever to Juhfa.” [Bukhari]

When, on the other hand, the famous dam of Ma’rib in the Yemen was destroyed, many southern tribes emigrated to the north. Some of these immigrant tribes established powerful kingdoms such as the Ghassanids in Syria, and the Lakhmids in Iraq, and the kingdom of Kindah in Central Arabia.

Satellite view of the City of Madinah – Photo: Tim Peake (Twitter)
Satellite view of the City of Madinah – Photo: Tim Peake (Twitter)

Two of these Arabian tribes settle down in Yathrib alongside the Jewish tribes whom they served as labourers. They were the tribes of Khazraj and the tribe of Aws. Soon these energetic emigrant Arabs gathered force, and eventually deprived the Jews of their power, taking over their forts in the twown and building new ones in the Southern Arabian style. This took place about the middle of the sixth century A.D.

It was into a clan of the Khazraj tribe, called alNajjar, that Hashim, son of Abd Manaf, had married; and it was through this marriage that Abd al-Muttallib, grandfather of Muhammad (SAW), was born. It was also with this clan that ‘Abdullah, Muhammad’s father, has stayed during his illness, and it was in their graveyard that ‘Abdullah was laid to rest.

READ MORE: House of Umme Hani (may Allah be pleased with her)

When the Jews were humiliated at the hands of the Arabs in Yathrib, they thought that they could only flourish if they created disunity and ill feling between the two Arabian groups. The Jewish intrigues gradually built up mistrust and mutual fear between the Khazrajites and the Awsites, and eventually skirmishes began to take place. The Jews, encouraged by their success, added fuel to the flames and the feuds developed into major wars, with each tribe bringing in allies on its side. One of their most serious engagements was the Battle of Bu’ath which is believed to have taken place in 617 A.D. In that battle, the Khazrajites inflicted heavy losses on their adversaries; but somehow the Awsites by resolute determination managed to inflict a crushing defeat on their enemies.

In the subsequent years, an uneasy atmosphere prevailed in the town. Nothing could obliterate the bitter memories on both sides. The enmity was manisfested in complete physical separation between the two parties. Neither of the two groups would sell to or buy from the other. There was no longer intermarriage between them. Each tribe even had its own market and its own currency.

Map of Madinah with major landmarks
Map of Madinah with major landmarks

Some of the wise men, however, began to think of creating a form of unity between the Awsite and the Khazrajites; and they though that the best way was by the appointment of a common chief who commanded the respect of both sides. Their eyes centred on one Abdullah Ibn Ubayy Ibn Salul from the tribe of Khazraj.

READ MORE: The Location of Hafsa house (may Allah be pleased with her)

‘Abdullah, however, was lacking in honesty and in character, The Man of the Hour was the one who was being persecuted in Mecca, and who was to unite, not only the Khazrajites and the Awsites, not only all the Arabs, Bedouins and civilized tribes, but all Arabs and non-Arabs, under the banner of his new faith and the guidance of God. The Quran reads in this connexion:

“And (God) has united their hearts (under your leadership). If you spent all (the wealth) that is on earth, you could not have united them; but Allah has united them. Allah is Great and Wise indeed!.

Narrated Anas (may Allah be pleased with him): Whenever the Prophet (SAW) returned from a journey and observed the walls of Madinah, he would make his mount go fast, and if he was on an animal (i.e. a horse), he would make it gallop because of his love for Madinah [Bukhari]. The Prophet (SAW): “For the believer, Madinah is the best place. If only they could understand it’s virtue fully, they would never leave it, and whoever departs from Madinah, having become disenchanted with it, Allah will send someone better to replace him. And whoever bears patiently the ordeals of Madinah, for him shall I be an intercessor(or witness) on the Day of Qiyamah.” [Muslim]

It is stated in another hadith: “There will be no town which Ad-Dajjal (the anti-Christ) will not enter except Makkah and Madinah, and there will be no entrance (road) but the angels will be standing in rows guarding it against him, and then Madinah will shake with its inhabitants thrice and Allah will expel all the nonbelievers and the hypocrites from it.” [Bukhari]

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