What we know as Medina today was called Yathrib in ancient Arabia. Its name was changed to Medina in honour of the Holy Prophet, when it was re-named Medina-tulNabwi (the city of the Prophet) after the Prophet migrated there. Medina is a very old town that lies about two hundred miles north of Mecca. It is a valley dotted with hills. In the Prophet’s time, people lived there in villages. Each tribe had his own village, its own fort. The predominant religious communities in Medina were the Jews and pagans. It was customary for the Prophet to make contact with groups that travelled to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage. The Prophet would use this opportunity to spread the message of Islam.
These groups would travel back to their towns and take the teachings of Islam with them. This became a very important tool for the spread of Islam.