When we were in Madinah last month, I got excited when it was announced that we would be going to “the mountain.” I had visions of a picnic, lots of tall shady trees and fresh air. Well, that’s not exactly what I got. The “mountain” would be labeled in MY book more under the “hill” category, and there was no picnic or shade trees in sight.
Instead, Mount Uhud turned out to be the historical site of a famous Islamic battle which took place in the year 625 between a small force of Muslims from Madinah and a much larger force of non-believers from Mecca.
This historic mountain is located just north of Madinah. It’s an easy walk up the hill, which was defended mightily by the smaller Muslim army of arrow shooting warriors from Madinah. The surviving Meccans retreated. The seemingly victorious followers of Mohammed disobeyed his command not to leave their posts on top of the hill, where they could see for miles in every direction.
Instead, they hastily descended the hill, some say, to greedily confiscate the spoils of their short lived victory. The Meccans seized the opportunity and returned, much to the surprise of the Muslims, and managed to turn their embarrassing loss into a victory.
At the base of the mountain is the burial site of some 70 fallen Muslim fighters, including Mohammed’s brave uncle, Hamza. He is considered a martyr in Islam. The graves are unmarked, which is typical of Islamic burial sites, but it has been preserved by the construction of a large fence around it.
Later in the evening of that same day, we were watching TV and there was a movie on which depicted the Battle of Mount Uhud. The dialogue was all in Arabic, so I couldn't understand most of what was said, but others kept pointing out various characters to me and some of what was being said, so I was able to keep up with what was happening in the movie. It was pretty cool that we had just been to the site earlier that day and I was somewhat familiar with the story.
Madinah is the second holiest city of Islam because it was chosen by the Prophet Mohammed as the location for the very first mosque ever built. This mosque is called the Quba Mosque. (See photo at right.) The original structure was torn down and completely rebuilt in the 20th century, but still stands on the very same spot that the Prophet chose for it initially.
Another very famous mosque in Madinah is called the Prophet's Mosque. This mosque is visited by millions of Muslims every year because it is where the remains of the Prophet himself lie buried in a tomb there.