Kiswa Fast Facts

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 31 August 2017| 09 Zhul Hijjah 1438

Known as the ‘kiswa,’ the cloth is woven from silk and cotton and adorned with verses from the Quran.

Dozens of Saudi craftsmen are at work in a factory in Mecca preparing an embroidered black and gold cloth to cover the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam.

A new Kiswa is made each year to be placed on the Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque on the day of Arafat, the climax of the annual hajj. It was a custom started by the Prophet Ismail (Pubh) 4000 years before the origin of Islam.

The kiswa was made in Egypt until 1962. There have been red, green or white coverings in centuries past, but now it is always black with embroidered gold calligraphy.

The present cost of making the kiswa amounts to SR 17 million. The cover is 658 sq. metres long and is made of 670 kgs of pure silk, imported from Italy. For embroidery 15 kilos of gold threads are used. The kiswa consists of 47 pieces of cloth and each piece is 14 meters long and 101 cms broad. The kiswa is wrapped around the Kaaba and fixed to the ground with copper rings.

The Kaaba is a focal point of the haj, during which some two million hujaaj walk around it in a mass ritual called Tawaaf.

When Muslims throughout the world say their 5 daily prayers, it is towards Mecca and the Kaaba that they face. With the haj imminent, this year’s kiswa is complete, and the workers have already started on the next one.