Medina, also officially transliterated as Madinah by the Saudi Government and in modern Islamic literature generally), is a modern city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and the capital of Al Madinah Province. An alternative name is Madinat Al-Nabi ("The City of the Prophet," i.e., Muhammad). The Arabic word madinah simply means "city." Before the advent of Islam, the city was known as Yathrib but was personally renamed by Muhammad. The burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, it is the second holiest city in Islam after Mecca. Medina is critically significant in Islamic History as Muhammad's final religious base after the Hijrah and the location of his death in 632 AD/11 AH. Medina was the power base of Islam in its first century, being where the early Muslim community (ummah) developed, first under Muhammad's leadership and then under the first four caliphs of Islam: Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali.
In fact, Year 1 of the Islamic calendar is based on the year of the emigration (or Hijra (هِجْرَة)) of Muhammad and his original followers (Muhajirun) from Mecca to the city of Medina in 622 AD/1 AH. The Maliki madhab places emphasis on ulema and scholars originating in Medina.Medina is home to the three oldest mosques in Islam, namely Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque), Quba Mosque (the first mosque in Islam's history), and Masjid al-Qiblatain (The Mosque of the Two Qiblahs – the mosque where the direction of Muslim prayer, or qiblah, was switched from Jerusalem to Mecca). Similarly to Mecca, entrance to the sacred core of Medina (but not the entire city) is restricted to Muslims only; non-Muslims are permitted neither to enter nor cross through the city center.Muslims believe that the final chapters (surahs) of the Qur'an chronologically were revealed to the Prophet in Medina and are called Medinan surahs in contrast to earlier Meccan surahs
Islam is the religion followed by all the population of Medina, just like most of the cities in Saudi Arabia. Sunnis of different schools (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali) constitute the majority while there is a significant Shia minority in and around Medina.
The soil surrounding Medina consist of mostly basalt, while the hills, especially noticeable to the south of the city, are volcanic ash which date to the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era. In 1256 Medina was threatened by lava flow from the last eruption of Harrat Rahat.
Devastation of heritage
Saudi Wahhabism is hostile to any reverence given to historical or religious places of significance for fear that it may give rise to 'shirk' (that is, idolatry). As a consequence, under Saudi rule, Medina has suffered from considerable destruction of its physical heritage including the loss of many buildings over a thousand years old. Critics have described this as "Saudi vandalism" and claim that in Medina and Mecca over the last 50 years 300 historic sites linked to Muhammad, his family or companions have been lost. In Medina, examples of historic sites which have been destroyed include the Salman al-Farsi Mosque, the Raj'at ash-Shams Mosque, the Jannat al-Baqi cemetery, and the house of Muhammed.
Medina has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Summers are extremely hot with daytime temperatures averaging about 40 °C (104 °F) with nights about 28 °C (82 °F). Temperatures above 45 °C (113 °F) are not unusual between June and September. Winters are milder, with temperatures from 12 °C (54 °F) at night to 24 °C (75 °F) in the day. There is very little rainfall, which falls almost entirely between November and May.