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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

(Arab. city),.or, more fully, Medinat Alnabi (City of the Prophet), also called Tabah, Tibah, etc. (the Good, Sweet, etc.), and mentioned by Ptolemy as Jathrippa: the holiest city of Mohammedan countries, next to Mecca, and the second capital of Hejaz in Western Arabia, is situated about 270 miles north of Mecca, and 140 north by east of the port of Jembo, on the Red Sea, and contains about 16,000 inhabitants (Burton). Medina is about half the size of Mecca. The streets, between fifty and sixty in number, are deep and narrow, paved only in a few places. The houses are flat-roofed and double-storied, and are built of a basaltic scoria, burned brick, and palm-wood. Very few public buildings of any importance are to be noticed besides the great' mosque Al-Haram (the Sacred), supposed to' be erected on the spot where Mohammed died, and to enclose his tomb. It is of smaller dimensions than that of Mecca, being a parallelogram, 420 feet long and 340 feet broad, with a spacious central area, called El-Sahn, which is surrounded by a peristyle, with numerous rows of pillars. The Mausoleum, or Hujrah, itself is an irregular square, 50-55 feet in extent, situated in the southeast corner of the building, and separated from the walls of the mosque by a passage about 26 feet broad. A large gilt crescent above the " Green Dome," springing from a series of globes, surmounts the Hujrah, a glimpse into which is only attainable through a little opening, called the Prophet's Window; but nothing more is visible to the profane eye than costly carpets or hangings, with three inscriptions in large gold letters, stating that behind them lie the bodies of the Prophet of Allah and: the two caliphs-which curtains, changed whenever worn out, or when a new sultan ascends the throne, are supposed to cover' a square edifice of black marble, in the midst of which stands Mohammed's tomb. Its exact place is indicated by a long pearly rosary (Kaukab al-Durri)-still seen- suspended to the curtain. The Prophet's body is supposed to lie (undecayed) stretched at full length on the right side, with the right palm supporting the right cheek, the face directed towards Mecca. Close behind him is placed, in the same position, Abubekr, and behind him Omar. The fact, however, is that when the mosque, which had' been struck by lightning, was rebuilt in 892, three deep graves were found in the interior, filled only with rubbish. Many other reasons, besides, make it more than problematic whether the particular spot at Medina really contains the Prophet's remains. That his coffin, said to be covered with a marble slab, and cased with silver (no European has ever seen it), rests suspended in the air, is a stupid story, invented by Christians, and long exploded. Of the fabulous treasures which this sanctuary once contained, little now remains. As in Mecca, a great number of ecclesiastical officials are attached in some capacity or other to the Great Mosque, as ulemas, mudarisin, imaums, khatibs, etc.; and not only they, but the townspeople themselves live to a great extent only on the pilgrims' alms. There are few other noteworthy spots to be mentioned in Medifia, save the minor mosques of Abubekr, Ali, Omar, Balal] etc.


(See Milan).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

The city), called also Medina-en-Nabi, 210 m. N. of Mecca, the City of the Prophet, as the place in which he found refuge after his "flight" from Mecca in 632; it was here he from that date lived, where he died, and where his tomb is, in a beautiful and rich mosque called El Haram ( i. e . the inviolate), erected on the site of the prophet's house. See Hegira .