New kiswa handed to guardian
Anwar Al-Sayed Arab News
MAKKAH: The new kiswa (cloth) for the Kaaba was presented to its eldest guardian at a special ceremony on Wednesday evening.
Chairman of the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Saleh ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Hussain handed the garment over to Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Al-Shaibi at the kiswa factory in Makkah.
A small bag made of green velvet with gold and silver engravings containing the key to the Kaaba, was also given to Sheikh Abdul Aziz.
The Al-Shaibis have been custodians of the dressing and cleaning of the Kaaba since Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave them its key. “Oh, sons of Talha, take the key of the Kaaba and keep it for eternity,” he said at the time. Any member of the family is, therefore, authorized to open the door to the Kaaba.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz said it was customary to receive the kiswa on the first day of Dul Hijjah, so the House of God would be prepared on the ninth of the same month, the day of the standing at Arafat. This was to ensure the Kaaba would look elegant the next day, which is Eid Al-Adha.
He said the previous day (Dul Hijjah 8), when pilgrims descend on Mina, the old cloth is pulled down.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz said the ceremony usually begins when he and Al-Hussain sign the hand-over papers. Speeches then follow about the history of the kiswa and its significance to Muslims.
The kiswa factory was built in Makkah about 74 years ago by King Abdul Aziz and since then the cloth has been made every year by Saudis working in the factory.
The black dress is made with 670 kg of pure silk, 150 kg of gold and silver used to engrave Qur’anic verses on the cloth. It is 658 square meters in size and consists of 47 pieces, each 14 meters long and 95 cm wide. It costs about SR16.8 million ($4.5 million).
Sheikh Abdul Aziz said the hem is pulled up by about three meters above the ground so that pilgrims do not damage it. He added the pilgrims used to call the cloth the Ihram of the Kaaba.
He explained the Kaaba is washed twice a year during the months of Sha’aban (the month before Ramadan) and Dul Hijjah.
The Kaaba is washed with Zamzam water and perfumed using oud ointment.