Translator: Rümeysa Şevval Ayvaz
The topic of this article is the city of Medina, which is the city we can define as the beginning of Islamic urbanism and where we can observe the political and religious order established by the Muslims.
Before it became a Muslim settlement, Medina was devoid of central administration and religious unity, it was a city where blood feuds were intense, and it had a structure full of disconnected tribes. As mentioned above, before the migration, Medina was a chaotic city. For this reason, the inhabitants of the city were hopeful that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would regulate this chaos and social life in the city. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not leave this hope of the people unrequited, he made arrangements on many issues upon his arrival to the city and made Medina a peaceful and safe settlement where peace prevailed.
Medina, formerly known as Yathrib, firstly went through a name change as it became a Muslim city. The name Yathrib, meaning, “to condemn, slander, harm, confuse, spoil” in Arabic, was changed to Tabe Taybe, which means, “good, nice, beautiful”, in Arabic, by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Prophet also used other names with beautiful meanings for this city and forbade the use of the name Yathrib. However, the name Medina was given to this city by Allah, and the word Medina was used in various places in the Holy Qur’an to refer to this city.
After the name change, Masjid an-Nabawi was built. The location of the Masjid was determined by the Prophet’s camel that was kneeling down on the place where the mosque is built now. Date trees’ branches were used in its construction. Although Masjid an-Nabawi was originally built to offer Muslims a masjid and to carry out religious activities, it turned into the heart of the city as they added new functions over time. The Masjid had different functions such as being a place of worship, education as well as a culture and social center. The city plan was formed by placing the Masjid an-Nabawi in the center. The three most important functions of civilized life such as administration and defense, economy and market, and religious life were arranged in order to establish a parallelism between Islamization and the civilization of the city.
While they were building the masjid, Prophet Muhammed on the other hand, declared Ansar and Muhajirs as brothers and took steps to ensure social peace. After that, he considered it necessary to determine the borders of Medina and declared a part of the city as a haram zone, and forbade cutting trees and hunting animals in that area. With this action, it can be understood that Prophet Muhammad gave great importance to other creatures as well as the people living in the city. This attitude of the Prophet is a matter that should be considered and set an example for today’s understanding of urbanism.
Another practice to ensure peace in Medina was the creation of the constitution. The articles of the constitution included issues such as debt, war, human rights, state administration, and ensuring justice to maintain order in the society.
The bazaar-market and trade areas were constructed after the structures created with the foundation of the city. The Prophet determined the location of the market with the advice of a citizen. He declared this area as the commercial area of the city and emphasized the issues to be considered in trade and the right to shop. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ordered, “This is your market, so no reduction or tax should be imposed on it.”
The Virtuous City
While the city was being constructed, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave importance to the order of the houses, the connection between the streets and the houses, and wanted the streets to be wide. He emphasized that neighbors should agree with each other in the construction of houses. He talked about the rights neighbors have over each other.
As it can be seen, in addition to being a religious and political leader in the founding of Medina, the Prophet (PBUH) was a ruler who organized the city, decided on the structures and functions of the city, and gave orders about the relationships of the inhabitants of the city with each other. According to Farabi Medina is, “A city whose people aim to help each other for things with which genuine happiness is achieved; it is a virtuous, perfect city”. This understanding was adopted when Madina was established, and our Prophet aimed to establish a virtuous, peaceful city under the rule of peace, where cooperation is at a high level and where people, animals, trees, and all creatures are respected.
This article was originally written in Turkish. Click to read it! Medine-i Münevvere Şehrinin Kuruluşu