History of Kaaba Caretakers
Around 150 manufacturers and technicians took part in replacing the Kaaba’s Kiswa (black cloth) with a new Kiswa yesterday on Wednesday.
On behalf of King Salman, Makkah Govt. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, entrusted the Kaaba Kiswa last week to the senior most caretaker of the Kaaba, whose name is Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi.
The Kiswa is prepared at the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Kaaba’s Kiswa in Makkah’s Umm Al-Joud vicinity. It is manufactured with a special natural silk coloured black. Its length is 14 m . Its upper third portion consists of a belt which again comprises of 16 square pieces with a square of Islamic motifs surrounding it. The belt width is 95 cm and and its length is 47.
The Kiswa contains four pieces, each meant to cover one of the four sides or faces of the sacred Kaaba, and the fifth is a curtain which is placed on its door. The curtain is prepared in a multi-stage process, as the fabric is joined from the four sides of the Kiswa. Later on, the belt and curtain pieces are also added in manufacturing for its setting up over the Kaaba.
Above 110 Kaaba caretakers have been having the honor of cartaking of the Grand Mosque through history. The centuries-old tradition has been transferred from generation to generation.
The Kaaba caretakers have secured their God-given legacy and has a support from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Bani Shaiba, the Kaaba caretakers, possess the honor of having the keys to the Kaaba for 16 centuries now.
Prior to Islam, the children of Qusai bin Kilab bin Murrah had the honor to be Kaaba caretakers, whose offsprings Bani Shaiba are the present Kaaba caretakers. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself gave the key to the Kaaba back to them after Makkah was conquered.
Caretaking of Kaaba is an old legacy, consisting of opening, closing, cleaning, washing, cladding and repairing in case the cloth is torn or damaged.
Kaaba is washed with Zamzam—the sacred water— and rose water. All its walls are wiped and washed with scented water.
“Our grandfather, Qusai bin Kilab, who was also the Prophet’s grandfather, was responsible for the caretaking of the Kaaba, who passed it on to his oldest son Abd Al-Dar, who in his turn passed it on to his children,” so said by Anas Al-Shaibi, one of the Grand Mosque’s caretakers.
He further said that right from the beginning for time, the privilege of performing the job of Kaaba caretakers is a God-given blessing which he expects till the end of time.
“The commandments of the fathers to their children were the fear of God, in addition to preserving the great principles of Islam; honesty, humility and keeping the key in a dedicated bag made of green silk and gold, while moving it to open the Kaaba,” Al-Shaibi further said.
As for the traits required for being Kaaba caretakers, Nizar Al-Shaibi told that it has to be a head of a family who undertakes this responsibility of caretaking. Honesty and good morals are the quality required for this job.
Al-Shaibi said throughout the time, the Kaaba key’s character has not changed.
The reason behind a change in the key’s appearance, he told, is a problem to open the Kaaba, so it is then repaired or replaced for convenience.
The key possesses a singular look that is totally different from a normal traditional key. Al-Shaibi added further that it is required to be different and carry a unique character inimitable to the Kaaba. The design is also unique and artistic so no one except the Kaaba caretakers has the knowledge of how it works.
Al-Shaibi told while discussing the clothing of the Kaaba, that the first man to cloth it was the Yemeni King Tubba. People of the world used to visit him for conset and gifts. However, the Quraish tribe avoided this practice. When inquired, he came to know about the Kaaba, so he secretly took his army and tore it down.
Al-Shaibi also added that while the king was preparing his army, he fell seriously ill with strange sickness. Despite his efforts he could not get rid of it with any medicine of the world. He was constantly told by the doctors that the disease was not the common one. It was one that was sent from heavens for his bad intentions. A wise man advised him to forgo his bad intention of invasion. And the moment the king decided to back down from his evil intentions, he to the astonishment of all, recovered from the disease in a miraculous way.
Afterwards, King Tuba sent valuable presents to the residents of Makkah. He became the first person to cloth the Kaaba in a variety of colors. This remained so until King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia set up Kiswa factor, which prepares the special cloth every year.
Al-Shaibi further told that the elder of the family takes responsibility of the duty. He said that his family is unified and that any dispute is decided inside the family circle.
According to the Prophet, “Only an oppressor will take caretaking away from the Al-Shaibi family.” God made his family to perform the duty of Kaaba caretakers of the Grand Mosque 16 centuries ago. He added that the duty is a divine role which us bestowed upon his family as a blessing.
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