Kiswa is a holy cloth that covers the kaaba, the sacred building located at the centre of the grand mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The kiswa is a significant element of the annual Hajj pilgrimage and holds the most religious and cultural importance for muslims all over the world. Now let’s delve into its history, symbolism, manufacturing process and significance of the kiswah.
History of the Kaaba Kiswa
The covering of the holy kaaba is known as the kiswa and has a different history through different eras. Some people believe that the first kaaba kiswah was made by the Prophet Ismail. It is also mentioned by other people that the first kaaba cover was made by Adnan ibn Ad, a great-great-grandfather of the Prophet Mohammad. However, most of the sources agreed that Tuba, the king of Humayyur in Yemen, was the first person who started this tradition. After that, this tradition continued by many others draped the holy kaaba during the pre-Islamic era.
It is believed that in the pre islamic era, Abu Rabiah ibn Amr Al – Makhzoomi was a rich person, and said to the Quraysh that he would drape the holy kaaba one year and the Quraysh would drape it in the next year. The Quraysh agreed, and the story says that he continued to cover the holy kaaba until his death.
The symbolism of the Kaaba Cover
The holy kiswah holds great symbolism for Muslims all around the world. It shows the unity of the Muslim community and symbolises the equality of all the people who believe in the eyes of Allah. The colour of the kaaba kiswah is associated with humanity, the absence of worldly adornments, and simplicity, focusing on spiritual devotion rather than materialistic pursuits. It serves as a visual reminder of the universality and unity of Islamic culture, as millions of Muslim people from different backgrounds come together to annual pilgrimage Hajj, and witness the kaaba covered in the same black colour Kiswah.
The Manufacturing Process of Kaaba Kiswa
The manufacturing process of kaaba kiswa is a very time-consuming and labour-centric task. The process of making kaaba cover starts several months before the Hajj pilgrimage. The responsibility of producing the kaaba cover lies on the shoulders of the kaaba kiswah factory in Mecca, which is under the supervision of the Saudi government.
Traditionally kaaba kiswa is made from black silk fabric. However, due to some practical reasons and to reduce the cost of the kiswa, it is made from a combination of silk and high-quality polyester. The cloth is usually 14 metres high and 47 metres long, dimensions may be scary because of the size of the holy kaaba.
The kiswah is embroidered with intricate calligraphy and decorative verses of the Quran. The embroidery is done with golden and silver threads and consists of supplications, Quranic verses and the phrase praising Allah. These designs and embroidery are done by skilled people who stitch the designs by hand. This process requires a lot of patience to craft the designs on the kiswah.
Significance and Rituals
The kaaba cover has a huge significance during the Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islamic culture and a fundamental duty for all able-bodied who can afford it. The Hajj pilgrimage takes place in the Islamic month of Dhu al Hijjah and has rituals like Tawaf, the circling of the holy structure seven times.
Before the Hajj season begins, the preparations of placing the new kiswa take place. The old kiswah is removed and the kaaba gets cleaned and perfumed. Then the new kiswa is draped on the ninth day of Dhu al Hijjah, which is called Arafat. The ninth day of Dhu al Hijjah is known as the “Day of the Kiswah”.
The grand ceremony of changing the kiswah is attended by many dignitaries, officials and thousands of pilgrims. It marks the completion of the year and it symbolises the devotion of the people to Allah. The process of placing the kiswa involves hoisting the cranes and carefully draping them over the kaaba. The corners of the kaaba cover are fastened with gold and silver plated copper rings to place it properly.
After the Hajj season, the kaaba cover is removed and cut into smaller pieces. These pieces are considered as sacred cloth and distributed among dignitaries, officials and individuals as religious relics. It is believed that placing the piece of kaaba cover brings blessing, and good luck and acts as a spiritual connection to the kaaba.
Cultural and Historical Significance of Kiswa
The kiswa has great and deep historical and cultural significance. Throughout history, several Islamic dynasties and rulers have contributed to the maintenance of the kiswa. These acts are considered as the honour for the dignitaries and officials to show their devotion and power.
The process of changing the kiswa is taken over many centuries and it serves as a testament to the enduring importance of the kaaba and its significance in the Islamic faith.
The kiswa also has historical significance as it has witnessed many historical events and has been a symbol of strength and unity among Muslims. Its existence serves as a reminder of the endurance and resilience of the Islamic faith.