Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

From Makkah to Madinah

From Makkah to Madinah Peter Sanders
31 Mar
2015
A new book uses GPS and GIS to trace the Prophet Muhammad’s route from Makkah to Madinah with increased accuracy

When the Prophet Muhammad fled persecution in Makkah he faced many obstacles in his search for safety at the city of Madinah.

From Makkah to Madinah, traces the journey, known as the Hijrah or migration, which became the start date for the Islamic calendar in the year 622 CE.

A Saudi geographer, Dr Abdullah Alkadi, has followed the Hijrah route in precise detail using GPS and GIS mapping technology. Working with an old friend, photographer Peter Sanders, the route has also been documented in photographs.

JabalMishriwanJabal Mishriwan (Image: Peter Sanders)

‘The most important thing in locating the exact route is finding the exact origin,’ says Alkadi. ‘I needed to see people from the original area, which means [people] who lived in those places and were born in those places. That would make sure that when I asked for certain information about landmarks for valleys, I would be able to get answers about those places.’

He found many people on the route still living traditional lives and sought out elders to find out what had been passed down about the Hijrah in lore.

‘I tried to find people who were as old as possible because they would have more information and would not be affected by technology and modernism,’ says Alkadi.

IMG 4646(Image: Peter Sanders)

‘I discovered buildings, settlements, calligraphy and drawing on stones and rocks. People, when they travelled, tried to prove their presence by drawing or writing and those writings and drawings can be traced back to a thousand years or more,’ he adds.

While he made several archaeological finds on his journey, Alkadi’s most significant discoveries were ancient milestones.

‘In Muslim, Arab and other histories there is not agreement over the exact distance of a mile. When I came to working out the exact distance, the milestone markers helped me a lot to discover new locations and distances,’ says Alkadi.

‘The idea of the milestones goes back to the Greeks,’ he says. Alkadi compared the shapes with other examples from the Milestone Society in Cardiff.  ‘You are dealing with human beings so you have the same thing. They were almost identical until machines were introduced,’ he says. The oldest milestone Alkadi found on his journey was traced back 1,300 years. Alkadi combined the milestones with statistical methods to predict where he would find the next one.

ALJUHFAAl Juhfa ruins (Image: Peter Sanders)

What kept Alkadi motivated was the quest for the truth, and providing a reliable account of the Hijrah. The journey was not without hardship though. ‘There were places where we got lost or where a snake came over my feet, or where there were wolves and foxes,’ says Alkadi. ‘Honestly, there were friends who travelled with me who think I’m crazy. Now my wife would see the pictures and she got mad at me: “Why am I doing that?”’

Related items

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

DurhamBath Spa600x200 Greenwich Aberystwythherts

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in PEOPLE...

Cultures

'The British Isles' by Jamie Hawkesworth is a celebration of…

Development

A technique that uses bacteria to leach precious metals from…

Cultures

Hadani Ditmars explores the Iranian neighbourhoods of Vancouver, where the…

Development

Overshadowed by the uncertainty surrounding the Tokyo games, the Olympics…

Cultures

High in protein, antioxidants and requiring little space. What’s not…

Cultures

Snake wine is sold openly all over Southeast Asia but,…

Explorers

Going out into the world’s wildernesses or performing extraordinary feats…

I’m a Geographer

Chris Morgan is an ecologist and award-winning conservationist, educator, TV…

Global Health

The technology of mRNA-based vaccines – first approved for immunising…

People

The decades-long decline in hunger has now ended, despite the…

Explorers

Trapped at home in Vancouver during the pandemic, but with…

Cultures

The dramatic scenery of the Jurassic Coast and the fossils…

Global Health

With millions of lives at stake, scientists have accelerated research…

Explorers

Polar explorer Felicity Aston and her Icelandic husband took on…

Development

Pressure is mounting on steelmakers to decarbonise, but it’s proving…

Development

 Traditional methods of design and construction have led to a…