Saturday, 7 May 2011

Enlightened City in photos

Outside of the Prophet's Mosque in 'The Enlightened City', Madinah
I spent the last two days in Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah, Arabic for ‘the Enlightened City’ or ‘the Radiant City, located in Western Saudi Arabia. It is the home of the Prophet’s Mosque, Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, dedicated to Prophet Muhammad and the site of his burial. Prophet Muhammad is the last of a long line of Prophets within the Abrahamic tradition, and visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Al-Madinah is regarded very highly by those who have embraced Islam, an Arabic term meaning 'submission to God'. 

Al-Madinah is the second-holiest city in Islam after Makkah, site of the Kaaba, which is located about a four-hour drive away. Millions of Muslims from around the world visit Makkah each year to perform the hajj pilgrimage that takes place once every year, or umrah, a smaller pilgrimage that can be conducted throughout the year. During their visits, Muslims typically spend time at the Prophet's Mosque in Al-Madinah as well, to pay their respects and pray in congregation at a mosque that can easily accommodate a million worshippers at a time.

Exquisite interior view of the Prophet's Mosque in Al-Madinah
It was immensely relaxing and humbling to be at the Prophet’s Mosque, which unites people from around the world who have a common aspiration – to express their love of the Almighty. The Prophet once said: “For everything there is a polish that taketh away rust, and the polish of the heart is remembrance of God”. There are few places in the world where one’s heart is able to feel more at peace than at this mosque. I was overwhelmed by the level of emotion and dedication many believers hold.

Worshippers gather outside the mosque ahead of early-morning prayer, Fajr
On my first day, I went to the mosque 40 minutes before the call to prayer for the early-morning prayer, called Fajr, which is currently about 4:30 a.m. local time. When I arrived, the mosque was already teeming with people offering optional prayers, giving supplications for family and loved ones, reading from the Quran, Arabic for ‘the Recitation’ – a series of admonitions from God delivered through His Last Messenger .

The following morning I went even earlier and it was a similar experience; watching the streams of people walking from nearby hotels was truly uplifting and inspiring. As you walk through the mosques massive courtyard and within its magnificent walls, you hear an array of languages being spoken. I sat with, prayed with and befriended people from all over the world – Turkey, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Europe, Iran, Egypt – and so many others. The days in Madinah revolve around prayers and dua’a (supplications for loved ones), reflection, contemplation and giving thanks.

I also visited Al-Rawdah, the small area situated between the location of the Prophet’s last house and the pulpit where he would lead prayers prior to his death, an area which the Prophet described as “one of the gardens of Paradise”. It was a humbling, meditative, calming weekend – excellent way to rejuvenate my faith. I hope you enjoy my photos!

Exquisite interior design of Prophet's mosque

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Slightly pointed arches atop white marble columns throughout the mosque

The massive mosque can accommodate a million worshippers
Women walking toward Al Rawdah, a garden from Paradise

Rows upon rows of beautiful arches
Exterior of Prophet's Mosque after the evening Isha prayer

Three of the mosque's 10 minarets

After the evening prayer, Isha

At prayer times, tens of thousands gather inside and outside for worship

People gather in the courtyard between prayers

Elderly man sells siwak, a teeth-cleaning twig, in courtyard
Minaret appears through umbrellas in courtyard

People walking and sitting in courtyard between prayer times
Another mosque in Al-Madinah, which means 'Radiant or Enlightened City'


  1. I hope you found the peace of mind.

    I have just seen this on youtube. It is about how you feel in Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah.

  2. I think we can find peace of mind anywhere, but it is nice once in a while to visit Madinah and Makkah, fills your heart with peace, masha'Allah.

    The link you posted seems to be about Arabic calligraphy, I think it's the wrong link..

  3. But what is written? I thought you can read it. It says in Arabic:
    جاشت النفس بالهموم ولكن
    سكنت عندما سكنا المدينة
    كيف لا تسكن النفوس ارتياحا
    عند من أنزلت عليه السكينة


  4. Oh, I see. I am learning Arabic but I'm not fluent. I can understand several words but not all, so I lose the entire meaning as it seems to be poetic.

    The first word I do not know, after that "the self with worries and yet" "I lived when we lived Al-Madinah", then something about the comfort of the soul when tranquility descended on it.

    When I put that together it doesn't quite work, but I can guess that it is a beautiful passage:)

  5. I am sure you can be fluent in Arabic.

    It is difficult to translate poems but let me try this one:

    The soul simmered with its concerns
    but it calmed down when we lived in Al-Madinah.

    How would not souls be calm and realxed
    [when they are] near the one whom tranquility was sent to? [That is prophet Mohammad صلى الله عليه وسلم]

  6. That is beautiful, masha'Allah. So the word جاشت is the past tense 'simmered', referring to the self/soul. And the word سكن means 'to calm'. It is very close to "سكُن" as in 'to reside/live'. I was confused why it was mentioned twice in one line..I still need to see harakat:) شُكراً كثير على الدرس العربي. ان شاء الله اقدر اقراء الشعر العَرَبي بدون مساعدة قريباً :)

  7. You are almost right.

    سَكَن is opposite to move تحرّك. From this root and this meaning, other words and meanings are generated. For example,
    (سكون ، سكينة ، مَسكن ، مُسَكِّن ، سُكّان) have different meanings that are related to the original meaning of the verb.

  8. شكرا على الصورالجميله