Medina was previously called Yathrib, however the Prophet (saw) ordered it should be called Madina.
The Prophet (saw) said "Whoever calls Madina 'Yathrib,' he should do Istighfar (ask Allah for forgiveness)."
The word Yathrib يثرب comes from Tathreeb تثريب, meaning "to blame" and "to place guilt upon someone." It appears in the Qur'an once, the hypocrites of Madina having betrayed the Muslims at the Battle of Al-Ahzab saying:
وَإِذْ قَالَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَا أَهْلَ يَثْرِبَ لَا مُقَامَ لَكُمْ فَارْجِعُوا
"And if a group from among them (the munafiqeen) said 'Oh people of Yathrib, there is no place for you here today so turn back.'"
The Prophet (saw) changed the name of the city to "The city that is filled with light" (al-Madina al-Munawwara) and it has been known as such since. It is also called Madina al-Nabawiyya or Madina al-Nabi and Madina Rasool Allah.
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