The Location of Madinah, & How It Looked Like During the Prophetic Days

The Location of Madinah, & How It Looked Like During the Prophetic Days


By Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah

The Location of Madinah, & How It Looked Like During the Prophetic Days


Madina is situated in a lava plain, about 10 miles long and as wide. This was originally called the plain (Jawf) of Madinah, but was later renamed as Haram or sanctuary by the Prophet ﷺ. The city is surrounded on all sides by chain of mountains, and communications are maintained through narrow valleys. 

During the time of the Prophet, Madina was not a city of its layout as seen today, on the other hand there lived in Medina in those days several Arab and Jewish tribes, as a locality or village of each tribe was separated from others and lay at a distance of two or more furlongs from each other. (One furlong is 0.2 kilometer).

Each of these tribal villages had one or more water wells, and the houses were constructed of stones, and were generally double storied. Every village had several strong towers called Utum or Ujum. In case of emergencies like wars & conflicts, women, children, cattle and other movable goods were moved to these towers for safety. Few of them were so high that one could see them from a distance of a day’s journey on camel (about 20 to 30 kms). The ruins of one of such tower were still to be seen till 1947.

Apart from these villages, there were in Madinah gardens and farms belonging to individuals and tribes, spread throughout the city. Their compound walls were generally built up by stones. 

One of the tribal habitations was called Yathrib, the word still remembered by many today. This was in the south-west base of Mount Uhud, with water abounds. In the pre-Islamic times, this was probably the most prosperous part of the valley. After his migration, Prophet Muhammed ﷺ settled here and the place was thus called Madinah Munawar, meaning The Enlightened City. The other well known part of this valley is Quba.

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