Holy City of Madinah
The Holy City of Madinah, which lies in the central Hijaz 447 kilometers north of the Holy City of Makkah, is 625 meters (2,050 feet) above sea level. Sited on a fertile oasis, it is bounded on three sides by hills which form part of the Hijaz mountain range. The highest of these hills, Mount Uhud, rises more than 2,000 meters above the oasis. Madinah is the second holiest city in Islam. It was to Madinah that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers, faced by the hostility and persecution of the Makkan merchants, departed in 622 CE - and, when the citizens of Madinah asked the Prophet to live amongst them and to arbitrate in their affairs (an invitation taken to mean their rejection of polytheism and submission to the will of the one God, Allah), it was in Madinah that the Islamic era began. Madinah is then the city of the Prophet. As the place in which the Holy Qur'an was compiled and from which the Prophet's companions administered the affairs of the Muslim community, it was the seat of the first Islamic state. From Madinah, armies, spreading the word of the Prophet, were dispatched to Egypt, Persia and Syria. Madinah is also the place in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, was buried. Madinah is the Arabic for "city". The full name of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah means "Enlightened City". A visit to Madinah is not part of Umrah or Hajj but the deep affection in which the Prophet held the city and its intimate connection with the birth of Islam puts it on the itinerary of most pilgrims performing Hajj.