Al Madinah Al Munawwarah is known as the ‘radiant city’ and the ’enlightened city’. It is the City of the Prophet SAW. This serene city is steeped in Islamic history, and one cannot help but feel that one is walking in the footsteps of the Prophet SAW while exploring the city.
The hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing Buses provide a good overview of a city when one is short of time and I’m a fan of them. I’ve used them in London, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Singapore, Istanbul and many other places. So when I heard that they were in Madinah too, I was curious to see what it was about. We had already done the normal ziyaret tours before and I wanted to see Madinah from a different perspective.
The bus depot is outside the Al Shaza hotel which is opposite Taiba Centre. There are 24 hour hop-on hop-off tickets (80 riyals for adults and 40 riyals for children (December 2018)), and 1 stop tickets for 20 riyals -where you stay on the bus without hopping off.
There are 2 routes: the Red Route and the Green Route. We went on the Red Route which took about 1 hour 15 minutes. Personally, I think both routes should be combined to make one route as the Green Route is quite short.
The bus has commentary via earphones in 8 different languages: English, Arabic, Turkish, Malaysian, Indonesian, Urdu, French and Persian which are the main languages spoken by the pilgrims. As the bus drove through the city, we listened to the commentary about the places we were seeing. We saw parts of Madinah we hadn’t seen before. We stopped at Mount Uhud, Al Noor Mall, the Trench Battlefield, Masjid Quba, Al Qiblatain Mosque and the Al Hijaz Railway Station. The Green Route covers Masjidun Nabawi, Jannatul Baqi and Al Manakh Square. More about these below.
Mount Uhud – the site of the battle of Uhud, one of the most important battles in the early days of Islam, within which the Prophet SAW’s uncle Hamza (RA) was martyred. Of this mountain the Prophet (SAW) declared, “This mountain loves us and we love it.” [Muslim]
Masjid Quba – The first mosque built in Islam. “The Prophet (SAW) used to go there every Saturday. He said “Whoever purifies himself in his house then comes to the mosque of Quba’ and prays there, he will have a reward like that for Umrah.”
Al Qiblatain Mosque – Masjid Qiblatain (Mosque of the Two Qiblas) is where the Prophet (SAW) was praying when the revelation of the Quran came to change the direction of the Qibla from Bait-al-Maqdis (Masjidul-Aqsa) in Jerusalem to the Ka’bah in Makkah.
Masjidun Nabawi – The second largest mosque in the world. It stands on the site of the original mosque built by the Prophet (SAW) and contains his tomb.
The Trench Battlefield -the site of the Battle of the Trenches (Khandaq), another important battle in Islam. It is now home to a complex of six ancient mosques and a seventh modern one.
Jannatul Baqi – the main cemetery of Madinah. Buried here are many members of the Prophet (SAW)’s close family, around ten thousand of his companions (Sahabah) and many other prominent, pious personalities.
Al Hijaz Railway Station – The Hijaz Railway was originally built to transport pilgrims from the city of Damascus in Syria to the city of Madina. It was completed in 1908, but was severely damaged during the First World War. The Hejaz Railway Museum was opened in 2006 on the grounds of the restored historic Ottoman railway station.
Al Noor Mall – a modern shopping centre
Al Manakh Square – a market square dating back to the Prophet (SAW)’s times.
For more information, visit City Sightseeing Madinah.
A few days later, we set off for Makkah. On this trip we took the Badr route to Makkah which was a bit longer. We passed rocky mountains, vast plains, sand dunes. Occasionally small camels grazed on the side of the roads and herds of goats and sheep too. Boards containing supplications to Allah can be seen frequently reminding one to make thikr. We stopped at a well, Bir Ar Rowha which used to have poisonous water. One day, the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions were passing through this village. The villagers told them to not the drink the well’s water as it was poisonous. So the Prophet SAW spat in the well, and since then, the water has turned sweet. It is now said to have healing properties too. We drank the water from this blessed well and proceeded to the site of the Battle of Badr. A mosque was built at the spot where the Prophet (SAW) prayed to Allah SWT before the battle. Other than that, there are no other indications of the significance of the spot.
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