A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A "Knowledge City" in Medina Where Non-Muslims Are Accepted

The Muslim Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina are traditionally known as the Haramayn, the two sanctuaries, and as such they are prohibited ground, haram, for non-Muslims, a restriction which I believe is attributed to the second Caliph, ‘Umar. (Smaller haram areas are the Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem and the Haram al-Khalil in Hebron.)

But as Medina has grown some of its suburbs are outside the traditionally defined haram boundaries, and so, for the first time, a new "Knowledge City" suburb of Medina will be open to residence by non-Muslims, in part because it is meant as an opening to the world for learning about Islam.

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