Medina : ‘a town which will swallow (conquer) other towns’

Narrated Abu Huraira:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا مَالِكٌ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ سَعِيدٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا الْحُبَابِ، سَعِيدَ بْنَ يَسَارٍ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ ‏ “‏ أُمِرْتُ بِقَرْيَةٍ تَأْكُلُ الْقُرَى يَقُولُونَ يَثْرِبُ‏.‏ وَهْىَ الْمَدِينَةُ، تَنْفِي النَّاسَ كَمَا يَنْفِي الْكِيرُ خَبَثَ الْحَدِيدِ

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “I was ordered to migrate to a town which will swallow (conquer) other towns and is called Yathrib and that is Medina, and it turns out (bad) persons as a furnace removes the impurities of iron.’ [Bukhari]

This hadith is about the merits of the Medina Al Munawarra formally known as Yathrib. There are many important lessons that we should reflect on.

1. ( أُمِرْتُ بِقَرْيَةٍ ) 

– “I was ordered to migrate to a town..’ – 

The Prophet (saw) was ordered to migrate to Medina from Macca. Firstly it shows that Prophet (saw) was commanded to move there , therefore he (saw) was divinely inspired and he did not do this action just out of practical consideration. This is an important point because the migration is integral to the method of establishing the first Islamic state; therefore we must follow the method of Prophet (saw) in our efforts to re-establish the Islamic State once again by following the footsteps of the Prophet (saw). 

2.( تَأْكُلُ الْقُرَى ) 

– ‘to a town which will swallow (conquer) other towns and is called Yathrib and that is Medina ‘. 

The Prophet (saw) characterised Medina to be a town that will conquer other towns. In Arabic the word تَأْكُلُ ‘eat’ used as metaphor for power and domination. Imam Malik (ra) was asked what is the meaning of ‘تَأْكُلُ الْقُرَى -it will eat towns – ’, he replied ‘it will conquer towns ‘تَفْتَحُ الْقُرَى ‘. This expression is considered to be eloquent according to the Arabs, they used to say: – we ate such an such land when they had dominated it. – أَكَلْنَا بَلَدَ كَذَا ، إِذَا ظَهَرُوا عَلَيْهَا .

This indicates that the first Islamic state was an expansionist state, and the purpose of the expansion was to spread the message of Islam to rest of mankind. The prophet (saw) after the establishment of the first Islamic state in Medina, he (saw) organised the internal relations between the citizens of Medina, prepared the army of Islam, under took political and military actions in order that Islam spread throughout the Arabian peninsula and paved the way for the Khulfah Al Rasheeden (Rightly guided calips) to conquer the Persian and Roman empires and then the successive Khulafah (caliphs) continued on this path of spreading Islam throughout the world. 

3. (يَقُولُونَ يَثْرِبُ‏.‏ وَهْىَ الْمَدِينَةُ، تَنْفِي النَّاسَ كَمَا يَنْفِي الْكِيرُ خَبَثَ الْحَدِيدِ) – 

‘ and is called Yathrib and that is Medina, and it turns out (bad) persons as a furnace removes the impurities of iron.’

Naming the city as Yathrib was not accepted by the Prophet (saw), simply because the word Yathrib denotes ‘blame and scolding’ , so he (saw) changed it to Medina, also it was narrated that Prophet (saw) : 

مَنْ سَمَّى الْمَدِينَةَ يَثْرِبَ فَلْيَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ ، هِيَ طَابَةُ هِيَ طَابَةُ 

Whoever calls Medina Yathrib, then let him seek the forgiveness of Allah (swt), it is Taba, it is Taba.’’(Ahmed). 

Taba is another name for Medina which means pure and clean.  
The renaming of the Yathrib to Medina is an indication that the land of Islam should not be attributed to anything ugly and reprehensible in terms of traditions and legacies. Today the Muslims lands are attributed with many reprehensible concepts, systems and traditions such as nationalism, democracy and all forms of corrupt systems. 
The city of Medina was the first Islamic state which continued as a beacon of light for mankind, spreading the guidance and justice of Islam throughout the word until officially the Islamic state was destroyed by the conspiracies of the European powers with the collaboration of traitors from the Muslim world on 3rd of March 1924.  
So let us remember 3rd of March 1924 and re-energise our efforts once again to re-establish our ‘Medina Al Munawarra’ once again so that it becomes a shining light in the world of oppression and corruption.  
Abu Yusuf 

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