The Kaaba Kiswa, also known as Kiswat al-Ka’bah, is the black cloth that covers the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is draped annually on the 9th day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, the day pilgrims leave for the plains of Mount Arafat during the Hajj. The Kiswa is considered one of the most sacred objects in Islamic art, ritual, and worship due to the iconic designs and the quality of materials used in creating it.
The History of the Kiswa
The Kiswa has a long and rich history among the Islamic people. It is made from the highest quality silks and embroidered with gilt silver thread, making it a covering truly befitting Allah’s favorite shrine on earth. The Kiswa is in three main parts: the Sitaar (curtain) of the Kaaba door, the inner-lining curtain inside the Kaaba, and the ‘Hizam’ (the belt) of the Kaaba. All are made in an exclusive and specialized Kaaba Kiswa Factory where the most accurate and skillful levels of production are employed, whether in the actual material from which the Kiswa is made or the embroidery that is used on it.
The Cost of Making the Kiswa
The cost of making the Kaaba Kiswa is enormous, with a price tag of 20 million Saudi Riyals. The actual Kiswa is covered in golden silver wired embroidery, which protrudes from the Kiswa up to 2 centimeters, which is why this process cannot be mechanically done. The final phase is the preparation process for the Kiswa, which is done in a special workshop in the city of Makkah.
The Significance of the Kiswa
The Kaaba Kiswa is not just a piece of cloth; it is a symbol of the Islamic faith and a representation of the devotion of Muslims to Allah. The Kiswa is considered the finest piece of Islamic art in the world, and the care that is put into this holy “veil” is incredible, and is a true testament to the faith and dedication of the Muslims.
The Raising of the Kiswa
The Kaaba Kiswa is raised every year on or after 15 Dhul Qadah, which corresponds to the white ceremonial robes of the pilgrims and signifies entrance into a sacred state (iḥrām). The raising of the Kiswa is done to protect it from damage by the huge crowds that align during the Hajj season and has become very tough to control the crowd during peak hours. During the Hajj, pilgrims try to touch the Holy Kaaba, which may damage the Kiswa as some people even try to pluck out the threads. Some people even try to tear the Kiswa to take the blessed piece along with them. The Kiswa is raised to 3 meters yearly to stop the damage to the Kaaba cloth.
The Changing Colors of the Kiswa
The colors of the Kaaba Kiswa have changed over the centuries. During the Abbasid era (750-1258 AD), the Kaaba was covered once with white cloth and once with red cloth, while the Seljuk Sultan (1037-1194 AD) covered it with yellow brocade. The Abbasid Caliph Al-Nassir (1180-1225 AD) changed the Kiswa’s color to green and later to black brocade, and this has remained its color to the present day.
In conclusion, the Kaaba Kiswa is not just a religious artifact; it is also a cultural and historical one. The Kiswa is a true representation of the beauty and richness of Islamic culture and history. The Kiswa has a long and rich history among the Islamic people, and the care that is put into this holy “veil” is incredible, and is a true testament to the faith and dedication of the Muslims. The raising of the Kiswa is done to protect it from damage by the huge crowds that align during the Hajj season, and the colors of the Kiswa have changed over the centuries. The Kiswa is a true representation of the beauty and richness of Islamic culture and history.