Monday, 15 November 2010

Kaba’s Kiswa,- Ka’ba cover

Standing at `Arafah is one of the pillars of Hajj without which it is invalid. A pilgrim should head for `Arafah after sunrise of the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. It is desirable to reach `Arafah at midday before the sun reaches its zenith (highest point) so that he can perform Zuhr and ‘Asr Prayers combined at noon along with the Muslims (shortened to two Rak’ah).
Additionally, a pilgrim should frequently utter talbiyah, remember Allah, glorify Him, and invoke Him and exalt the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, as much as he is able.
On the day of `Arafah, Allah bestows His favors on His slaves who strive to attain His Pleasure, and He makes the Angels bear witness that He has forgiven their sins.

 But do you know what is happing at the ka'ba in Mecca?

The Holy Ka’ba has been draped over the ages.........
Even today in Makkah the years old ritual is being practiced with full enthusiasm. The holy Ka’ba is covered with new Kiswa (cover) every year on the 10th Dhul Hijjah, which coincides with Hajj. Every year the old Kiswa is removed, cut into small pieces and gifted to certain individuals, visiting foreign Muslim dignitaries and organizations. Some of them sell their share as souvenirs of Hajj. Earlier Umar bin al-Khattab (radiyallaahu anhu) would cut it in to pieces and distribute them among the pilgrims who used them as shelter from the heat of Makkah.
 Millions of pilgrims will to make their way to Mount Arafat (Mount Arafat which stands about 70 meters high, is a granite hill to the east of the Holy City of Makkah. It was on Mount Arafat that Adam and Eve, separated for 200 years following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, recognized each other and were reunited. Here too they were forgiven by Allah, the Merciful, for their transgression. And here, in present times, the pilgrim performing Hajj must spend an afternoon in a state of Ihram).   Coinciding with this unchanged ritual is the tradition of changing of the Kaba’s ‘Kiswa’, the cloth that adorns the Ka’ba made of black silk and embroidered with gold calligraphy.

This event is customarily attended by the gate-keepers of the Ka’ba and technicians from the Kiswa Factory, which has been manufacturing the fabric that adorns the Ka’ba for the past six decades. These technicians employ a special mobile escalator so as to remove the old cloth and cover it with the new Kiswa, one day before the first day of Eid ul-Adha.

Pilgrims visiting the holy Ka’ba will see the cloth that has taken a whole year to complete at the hands of highly skilled professional tailors and artisans. The process by which the Ka’ba is adorned in the new Kiswa entails attaching special metal hooks (47 in total) to the roof of the Ka’ba after which the ropes from the old Kiswa are cut off so that the new cloth immediately falls above it to cover it. This is to avoid the Ka’ba being exposed during the change.

In going with tradition, one-third of the cloth from the bottom is lifted up out of the reach of millions of pilgrims who might want to cut off a piece of the cloth to take with them. There is approximately two meters between the marble floor that surrounds the Ka’ba and the beginning of the black Kiswa.

Last week, Head of Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Saleh al Hasan received the new Kiswa and fulfilled his role by handing it to the Kaba’s Senior Custodian, Abdulaziz al Shaibi, who is responsible for ensuring that the fabric is up by 9 Dhul Hijjah (18 December 2007).

The total cost of the Ka’ba Kiswa is 20 million Saudi Riyals, 3.30331372 million British pounds (approximately US $5,365,000, including material and labor); it is made of pure natural black silk and is 14 meters in height. The golden cover belt that encircles the Ka’ba is 47 meters long and 95 centimeters wide and is made up of woven golden pieces of Islamic embellishments. Verses of the holy Quran are stitched on the cover with golden and silver wires. A single Kiswa consumes approximately 670 kilograms of natural silk and has a total measurement of 658 square meters.

Artisans at the Kiswa Factory are entitled with the embroidery of the belt, lamps and the curtain that drapes over the Ka’ba door, in addition to the Quranic verses printed on the black cloth and other embellishments. They employ the necessary techniques, including stitching and padding and use silver- and gold-coated wires. This process consumes approximately 150 kilograms of gold and silver wire.

The ‘burqa’ (veil) that covers the Ka’ba door is comprised of a piece of pure black silk that is 6.5 meters long and 3.5 meters wide; it is embellished with Quranic verses and Islamic designs in gold and silver thread. It is the technicians at the Kiswa Factory who are responsible for stitching the pieces that make up the whole gold and silver designs, including the belt and a section that contains a dedication to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, with the date in which it was made inscribed upon it.

Four pieces of fabric that are inscribed with Surat al Ikhlas [a Quranic verse] are placed in every corner of the Ka’ba, and 11 pieces in the shape of lamps which are inscribed with Quranic verses are also placed in the four corners of the Ka’ba.

The final stage is hanging the curtain that covers the door and it is considered one of the most difficult stages in the process of changing the Kaba’s Kiswa. The next step entails lifting the Ka’ba cover, which is padded by a thick white cloth that is raised above the marble floor that surrounds the Ka’ba.

The old covering with all its related pieces is handed to the Saudi government, which it divides into smaller parts in accordance with particular considerations, and which it then bestows as gifts to senior guests, officials, a number of religious institutions, international institutions and Saudi embassies abroad.

The venerable ancient tradition of re-adorning the Ka’ba with the new Kiswa on the same Hijri date every year, after it has been washed in rosewater and perfumed in musk and perfumes, has been repeated ever since the establishment of a center that was entitled with making the Kiswa in accordance with the orders of King Abdulaziz Bin Abdul Rahman al Saud in 1927. Since then, it has been responsible for that task.

With the passage of time and the progress of the art of weaving and the advancement of technology, the late King Faisal decided to develop the center into a factory that could cope with the Kaba’s modern needs. In 1972 King Faisal issued a royal decree to expand the center into what has become Mecca’s Kiswa Factory. It was inaugurated under the auspices of the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz on 26 March 1977 during his term as crown prince.

The colour of Kiswa kept changing during the reigns of different Caliphs and rulers. In earlier days the Kiswa was changed on 10th of Muharam but slowly it was shifted to 10th of Dhul-Hijjah. Amir Muawiyah (radiyallaahu anhu) started to cover it on 10th Muharram (first month of Muslim calendar) as well as on Eid ul-Fitr (Ramadan).
In olden days different clans of Makkah would cover the Ka’ba by turns yearly. Tribal leaders would also bring small drapes to cover the walls of Ka’ba.
Once the grand mother of Prophet Mohammed (sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), had offered a white Kiswa. Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam)) used the Kiswa made of Yemeni cloth. Caliphs Umar (radiyallaahu anhu) and Uthman (radiyallaahu anhu) covered it with an Egyptian white cloth, Cubit. Haroon Al-Rashid used a white Kiswa.
The cloth would come from Baghdad, Egypt and Yemen depending on whose influence was greater in Makkah. Viceroy of Egypt Mohammed Ali Pasha after splitting from the Turkey Empire, made making of the Kiswa the state responsibility. The Kiswa was brought by annual caravan from Cairo.
Nasser Abbas (1160-1207) started using a green Kiswa and later shifted to black, since then the black Kiswa has become the tradition. In the early days the Kiswa’s were plain. Only in 1340 the embroidery border tradition was introduced by the Egyptian ruler Hassan.
During World War I Turkey joined Germany and there were doubts that will it be possible to bring the Kiswa from Egypt. So Turkey organized a very grand Kiswa from Istanbul and by Hejaz Railway it was sent to Madinah. But the Kiswa from Egypt reached Makkah in time, so the Istanbul Kiswa was kept back in Madinah.
In 1923 when the relations of Sheriff of Makkah and Egypt were sour, the Egyptians called back their Kiswa which had reached Jeddah by that time. That year the Istanbul Kiswa lying in Madinah was utilized. Ibn Saud used the Kiswa made in Iraq.

So Hajji’s when you are standing at   on the 9th of Zul Hijjah, Wuquf in Arafat is performed from Zuhr to sunset. The main action in Wuquf is not to pray lots of Nafl but to stand facing the Haram asking Allah (swt) for forgiveness while recognizing Him as our Lord. The Prophet said, "Al Hajju Arafah," meaning that standing in Arafat is the Hajj. Why? To answer this, we must first understand the first Wuquf that all of us performed in front of Allah (swt).
O Prophet, remind mankind about the incident when your Rabb brought into existence the offspring from the loins of Adam and his descendants (virtually each single individual of mankind) and made them testify about themselves. Allah asked them: “Am I not your Rabb?” They all replied: “Yes! We bear witness that you are.” This we did, less you mankind should say on the Day of Resurrection: “We were not aware of this fact that you are our Rabb and that there will be a Day of Judgment.” [7:172 Translation of meaning] This happened when Allah (swt) gathered us all in one large assembly before the birth of any of us. It is also very important to note that this event took place when Man was made Allah’s vicegerent (Khalifa) on this earth. At that time, Allah (swt) asked the rhetorical question "Am I not your Rabb?" By replying “Yes”, we have established a covenant with Allah (swt) to accept only Him as our Lord. In other words, He made sure that as Khalifa we don’t forget the real owner, and act as if we are the owners. Satan, the accursed, also resolved that he would persuade Man to take his own desires as his god or have Man worship someone other than Allah (swt). Herein lays the significance of Hajj. Wuquf in Arafat is really the place where we go through the process of once again recognizing our Lord. It is no coincidence that Arafat means recognition. This is the real significance of Hajj. We assess our past. We ask for His forgiveness, and resolve to worship only Allah (swt), to stop accepting others as our Lord, and if necessary, to take action to change those who deny Allah (swt) and worship others or enforce other unjust systems.

May Allah make our efforts sincere and keep us all on the straight path...........

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And earn Sawab-e-Jariya...May Allah swt make it a source of Sawab-e-Jariya for u and me .Ameen

P.S.: "Have fun praying    don’t forget to make dua for me."

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