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Mecca, Medina, and Karbala are all considered holy sites in Shi'i narrations and tradition.
It is not really useful to try to rank them. Mostly people ask this for sectarian reasons, i.e. to try to show whether or not Shi'is have the "correct" belief for a Muslim, or to judge whether individual Shi'is have the "correct" belief.
Each of these sites has its own role in the history of Islam and also has its own spiritual character.
Furthermore, individual Shi'is vary in their personal views or personal perceptions of spiritual matters, such as their experience of a place.
However, Mecca is central because it is the place for the required hajj, the direction of prayer, the homeland of the Prophet where he began his mission, and the sacred haram which is visited by the angels and sanctified in the Qur'an. It is also the birthplace of Imam 'Ali and is said to be the place where Adam and Eve first came to earth.
Medina is also important as the site of the first Muslim community, the site of the final resting place of the Prophet, and the residence of some of the Imams.
According to Shi'i law, it is necessary (wajib) to perform pilgrimage to Mecca, and according to Shi'i narrations, one should also visit the Prophet's final resting place in Medina. It is considered highly recommended but not shari'ah-wajib to visit Karbala. So this gives some ranking.
It is also narrated from Imam al-Sadiq that every evening, seventy thousand angels descend, circle the Ka'bah, then go to visit the graves of Imam 'Ali and Imam Husayn, and then return to the heavens. So this also gives some idea of ranking.
Karbala is also emphasized in the Shi'i tradition, both for its spiritual merits, and also because the martyrdom of Imam Husayn is seen as central to the survival of Islam.
There are a handful of narrations in which, on a creational or supra-worldly level, Karbala is treated as higher than Mecca. However, there are also narrations from the Shi'i Imams that say things like "Allah has preferred Mecca over all other cities" and "one prayer in the Prophet's Mosque [in Medina] is equal to a thousand prayers prayed elsewhere."
So, from this, perhaps we can understand that the intent in these narrations is not to rank sacred sites, but just to indicate that certain places have a special sanctity.
Today, some Shi'is individually may say that, for them, visiting Karbala was a more spiritual experience than performing the hajj. This is likely due to the regrettable materialism that has overtaken Mecca (the clock tower, McDonald's, luxury hotels and meals for those who can afford it, etc), the demolition or alteration of sacred sites (such as the jamarat or Jannat al-Baqi'), mismanagement, the crowds, and the hostility towards Shi'is in today's Saudi, including from the minbar and by the religious police.
In any case, Shi'is worldwide are dedicated to performing the hajj, visiting Medina, and also visting Karbala.
Generally, this understanding is taken from what has been narrated about the revelation of a surah or ayat.
However, sometimes there are contextual clues. For instance, if a verse discusses a historical event that happened after the hijrah, such as the Battle of Badr, it is understood that it was revealed in Medina.
Also, the style and content of Meccan verses are somewhat different from the style and content of Medinan verses. The Meccan verses tend to be shorter and focus more on the existence of God, the afterlife, and important ethical points, whereas the Medinan verses tend to be longer and also discuss matters such as legislation. This isn't an absolute rule but also lends some evidence.
If you live in a very northerly location and fasting intervals are over 17 to 18 hours, is it permissible to follow Mecca or Medina timings instead?
It is Not permissible at all. You must pray and fast according to the timing of the place where you live. Allah (SWT) ordered in Quran all Muslims to abide to the time of start of fasting which is Fajr, and end of fasting as the start of the night .(Sura 2, Verse 187).
Those who claim following different timings are deviating away from the clear orders of Quran and the authentic orders of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
What was the reason Marwan bin al-Hakam and some others were banished from Medina and cursed by the Prophet (saw)?
Marwan ibn al-Hakam and his father al-Hakam ibn al-Aass were banished
from Madina by the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) because they were abusing Islam and Muslims openly and trying to harm the Muslim community.
Al-Hakam ibn al-Aass was from Bani Ummaiyah. He was the uncle of Uthman ibn Affan. He was an open enemy against the Prophet (Peace be upon Him and His holy Progeny). His son Marwan Ibn al-Hakam was also expelled from Madina by Prophet (Peace be upon Him and His holy Progeny) for the same reason. Ayesha openly told Marwan that I bear witness that the Prophet cursed you and your father. When Uthman ibn Affan became the ruler over Madina after Umar, he brought Marwan ibn al-Hakam and gave him charge in his government and also he brought his father al-Hakam ibn al-aaass to Madina against the orders of Prophet (Peace be upon Him and His holy Progeny). Authentic Hadeeths in Sunni and Shia Books that the Prophet cursed Marwan and his father. The Prophet (SAWA) cursed al-Hakam ibn al-Aass and all the children from him. In the well known Sunni book (Al-Istiyaab Page 359 and 360 ) that when the Prophet saw Marwan ibn al-Hakam, said “Al-Wazagh ibnul Wazagh””Al Mal’aoon ibnul Mal’aoon””The Lizard Son of the Lizard” “The Cursed Son of The Cursed”.
Ameerul Momeneen (A.S.) said about Marwan that his hand is a Jewish hand. Mustadrak as-Saheehayn by Al-Hakim al-Nisaburi Volume-4 Page-479. Marwan Ibn al-Hakam was open enemy against Ahlulbayt upto the extend that when the news of the killing of Imam Hussain reached Madina he went on the Pulpit and faced the Prophet’s Shrine and said “This is against what you did against us in Badr . (Yaumun Ka Yaum Badr) as you killed us in Badr we have killed your Grandson Husain, this is in Murooj al-Thahab by Al-Mas’oodi.