tribes and the latter into
tribes. Due to the delicate and incoherent social geographyof the place in early days, it may be that the name
was not originallyapplied to the entire Madinah oasis, but rather only to a section thereof and tosome of its settlements.However, after the arrival of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions fromMakkah (
or Migrants), as well as after the conversion of many aMadinah citizen to Islam, the city morphology and its population structure wereset to change forever. The first stage of such a drastic transformation hit the roadas early as during the instant building of the principal mosque – ahead of anything else - which at once assumed the role of the center of gravity in theaffairs and developments instigated and flavored by the aspirations and goals of the new community - as we shall see later. The city’s name was expectedlyaltered in the process. The name adopted for the prototype Islamic city wasMadinah (simply “the City”), derived from the Arabic words
which mean to civilize (urbanize) and civilization respectively. Fromthe same root the concepts
both of which denotecivilized, civil and cultured, are derived too. The function, spatial arrangementand the content of Madinah - the prototype Islamic city - have been emulated for centuries by the Muslims all over their vast territories, as much as the indigenousgeographical, climatic and other inherent factors and conditions permitted.The adoption of the name Madinah was a judicious, gradual and not at alla hasty and prejudiced course of action on the part of the Prophet (PBUH), thusenabling everyone to come to terms with the new phenomenon and its far-reaching implications. This could be inferred from the substance of the MadinahConstitution written in the wake of the Hijrah. Therein it was still stated
rather than Madinah whenever the home of the migration and its generalpopulation was implied.
The Prophet (PBUH) was not in favor of retaining
as the name of the novel and unique city-state for two major reasons: firstly, because itsmeaning was miles away from reflecting Madinah’s lure, uniqueness anddynamism; and secondly, because the name
, conversely, bore a coupleof connotations which were not only improper for naming the impending urbanmarvel but were also, to an extent, offensive. The most compelling, upsetting andattention-grabbing meanings of
are reproach (
) and malevolence or ill will (
). While still in Makkah, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said:“I was ordered to (migrate to) a town which will eat up towns. They used to say,
, but it is Madinah. It removes the bad people like the blacksmith’s furnaceremoves impurities from the iron.”
Indeed, changing the name
was just one of the numerousexamples in which the Prophet (PBUH) is seen altering the improper pre-Islamicnames of the people and every so often of the places. Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalaniremarked that the Prophet (PBUH) loved very much beautiful and meaningfulnames, but hated ugly and worthless ones.
the Prophet (PBUH)said that the dearest names to Allah are ‘Abdullah (the servant of Allah) and‘Abdurrahman (the servant of the most Gracious).
As such, the two names were