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|Holy City of Al Madina Al Monawara|
|Province||Al Madinah Province|
|• Mayor||Abdulaziz Al-Hussein|
Medina IPA:/mɛˈdiːnə/ (Arabic: المدينة المنور IPA:ælmæˈdiːnæl muˈnɑwːɑrɑ or المدينة IPA:ælmæˈdiːnæ; also transliterated into English as Madīnah; officially al Madīnat al Munawwarah) is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of its prophet, Muhammad.
Medina currently has a population of more than 1,300,000 people (2006). The city was originally known as Yathrib, but later its name was changed to Madīnat al-Nabī (مدينة ﺍﻟﻨﺒﻲ IPA: [mæˈdiːnæt æˈnːæbiː] "city of the prophet") or Al Madīnah al Munawwarah ("the enlightened city" or "the radiant city"). The short form Madīnah simply means "city". Madina is the second holiest city of Islam, after Mecca (Makkah).
Medina's religious significance in Islam
Medina is very important to Muslims. This is because the Prophet Muhammad is buried in a mosque known as 'Masjid-e-Nabawi' or 'The Mosque of The Prophet'. The Mosque was built on a site next to Muhammad's home. Muslims believe[source?] that Prophets must be buried at the very same place that they die. Accordingly, Muhammad was buried in his house. The tomb later became part of the mosque when it was expanded by the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid I. The first mosque of Islam is also in Medina. It is known as Masjid Quba, (the Quba Mosque).
Like Mecca, the city of Medina only permits Muslims to enter. The haram (area closed to non-Muslims) of Medina is much smaller than that of Mecca, though. Many facilities on the outskirts of Medina are open to non-Muslims. In Mecca the area closed to non-Muslims extends well beyond the limits of the built-up area. Both cities' numerous mosques are the destination for large numbers of Muslims on their annual pilgrimage. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to Medina each year to visit the 'Tomb of Prophet' and to worship at mosques in a unified celebration. Muslims believe that praying once in the Mosque of the Prophet is equal to praying at least 1000 times in any other mosque.
- However, an article in Aramco World by John Anthony states: "To the perhaps parochial Muslims of North Africa in fact the sanctity of Kairouan is second only to Mecca among all cities of the world." Saudi Aramco’s bimonthly magazine's goal is to broaden knowledge of the cultures, history and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds and their connections with the West; pages 30-36 of the January/February 1967 print edition 
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