The Origin And Meaning Of The Kiswa
On the eve of the new Islamic year, 1445 Hijri, a solemn ceremony was held at Masjid Al-Haram in Saudi Arabia to change the cover of the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.
The cover of the Kaaba, also known as Kiswa in Arabic, is a black silk cloth that is embroidered with gold and silver threads with verses from Quran. The Kiswa covers the walls and the door of the Kaaba, which is a cubic structure that Muslims face during their prayers.
The ceremony of changing the Kiswa is a tradition that dates back to the time of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), who himself participated in draping the Kaaba. Since then, the Kiswa has been changed every year on the first day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar.
The process of changing the Kiswa involves 130 technicians and craftsmen who carefully removed the old cloth and replace it with a new one. The new Kiswa is made of 670 kilograms of raw silk, dyed black, and adorned with 120 kilograms of gold wires and 100 kilograms of silver wires. The Kiswa is divided into 56 pieces that are individually embroidered with Quranic verses and Islamic motifs. The largest swing machine in the world is used to stitch the pieces together on an assembly line.
The ceremony is accompanied by prayers and supplications, seeking blessings and guidance from Allah. The attendees also expressed their gratitude for witnessing this sacred occasion, which symbolizes the purity, renewal, and unity of the Kaaba and the Muslim ummah.
The old Kiswa is cut into small pieces and distributed as gifts to dignitaries, Islamic institutions, and museums around the world. Some pieces are also kept at the Kiswa Factory in Makkah, where the Kiswa is produced throughout the year.
The ceremony of changing the Kiswa is a religious and cultural event that reflects the devotion and respect of Muslims for Kaaba, which is considered the House of Allah and the direction of prayer for all Muslims. The ceremony also showcases the artistic and technical skills of Saudi craftsmen who preserve this ancient tradition with excellence and dedication.