As the build up to the five days of hajj begins, the emir of Makkah and advisor to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal handed over the kiswa (cover) of the Holy Kaaba to Saleh Al-Shaibi, senior keeper of Kaaba, at a ceremony held at his emirate office in Jeddah on Wednesday. Prince Abdullah Bin Bandar, deputy emir of Makkah, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and several other officials attended the ceremony.
The Holy Kaaba will be adorned with the new kiswa on Arafat Day, Dhul Hijja 9. As an annual custom, the new black cloth will be placed on top of the Kaaba, at the center of the Grand Mosque, as about two million pilgrims converge on the nearby vast plains of Arafat in the climax of Haj.
The kiswa, which is considered one of the most exquisite works of Islamic art, is 14 meters high, to match the height of the Kaaba, and 47 meters wide, enough to cover the four sides of Islam’s holiest site. Its upper half is decorated with a 95-centimeter wide strip featuring verses from the Holy Qur’an, inscribed in gold plated silver thread, which weigh 120 kilograms. Nearly 650 kilograms of natural silk was required to make the Kiswa, which is made of five pieces.
Meanwhile, Prince Khaled, who is also chairman of the Central Haj Committee, launched Wednesday two campaigns initiated by the presidency. The campaigns are titled “Serving the pilgrim and visitor is our pride,” and “Haj is a worship and not slogans and politicization.” The presidency has worked out a host of programs as part of the campaigns.[Source: Saudi Gazette]