By Dada Ahmed
Madinah, the second holiest city for Muslims is a metropolis that has continued to attract millions of Muslims and others for more than a thousand years ago because of its religious and tourism potential.
Madinah, the city of Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, has been described, by various Islamic scholars and others alike, as one of the most visited cities in the world in view of its tourism potential and spiritual importance.
With this in mind, many Nigerian pilgrims and their counterparts from all walks of life, in their determination to know more about the tourism potential of the city, speared time out of their religious sojourn to the city, to visit some historical sites in and around Madinah.
The sites are particularly associated with prominent Islamic figures.
These include Masjid Quba, the first mosque in Islam, three kilometres away from the Prophet’s mosque.
Nabawi, Masjid Jummah, where Prophet Muhammad had Friday prayer when he migrated from Makkah to Madinah and Masjid Dhirar, where there was a conspiracy against the Muslims by the infidels.
Islamic scholars believe that the mosque was burnt on the order of the Prophet while ruin remains till this day in Madinah.
The pilgrims also visited Masjid Ghamama where Prophet Muhammad was said to have offered prayers for rain in Madinah, as well as had his Eid prayers with his companions.
The pilgrims also took a tour of Masjid Abu Bakr, close to Masjid Ghamama, where history has it that Abu Bakr used to reside but later converted to a mosque.
There is Masjid Ali, built on the residence of a Caliph, Masjid Bilal, named after Bilal, the first Muslim to make the call to prayer (Athan).
All these sites, the pilgrims said, present fascinating sight and increase their knowledge of Islam.
The pilgrims do not lose sight of Mountain Uhud, the location of the second battle of Islam as well as a cemetery, which consists graves of the martyrs of the battle, including that of Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle.
Masjid Qiblatain, where Prophet Muhammad was praying when he received the revelation to change the direction the Muslims were facing while praying, from Masjid Al-Aqsa to Masjid Al-Haram.
Other historical sites of great importance to Islam are the site of the Battle of Trench, consisting of several important mosques, including Masjid Fatah and camps where the Muslims camped for the impending battle then.
Some of the pilgrims, who spoke with NAN in Madinah, commended the Saudi Arabian authorities for preserving the historical sites for the present and future generations of tourists, especially the Muslims for better understanding of Islam.
Ajetunmobi Abimbola, who said he had visited many of the historical sites, described them as marvellous and eloquent revealing of the reality of Islam as a true religion.
“The historical sites combine the theory and the practical aspects of Islam for better understanding and appreciation of the religion to Muslims and others willing to know more about Islam.
“Before now, I have been reading about the battles of Uhud and Badu that happened in Madinah years ago, I thought it was just an academic exercise but now I know better.
“I also saw the first mosque (Quba), built by Prophet Muhammad, the two mosques that face each other among other historical sites. All these testify to the true meaning of Islam as a religion.
“The sites have further exposed me to the process of development in Islam, the rich tourism potential of Madinah and its the economic benefits derivable from tourism,’’ Abimbola said.
Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi, who also expressed satisfaction of enriching his knowledge about Islam, through his visitation to historic sites, called on the Nigerian government to do more in preserving historical sites.
“I commend the Federal Government policy on tourism but more need to be done to harness and expose our rich historical sites as well tourism to the world.
He commended the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) for facilitating the tour.
“When we do this, we are not only telling the world who we are but also attracting more tourists, especially foreigners, to visit them thereby increasing government revenue earnings,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the number of Nigerian pilgrims in Madinah hit 20,469 on Thursday as Flynas Flight XY5469 departed Lagos to Madinah with 419 pilgrims from Oyo State, comprising of 192 males, 227 females and 11 officials, according to NAHCON.