Medina is a city in Saudi Arabia. Followers of the Islamic religion consider it one of the three holiest cities, ranking second, after Mecca. Muhammed and the early Muslims fled to Medina from Mecca to avoid persecution by the polytheistic Meccans. This journey to Medina is called the hijra, and the Muslim calendar dates from the start date of the hijra. Much of the city is declared off-limits to people who are not Islamic.