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The glorious Kiswa factory in Makkah holds immense historical and religious significance due to its production of black, pure-silk clothing, Kiswa, for the Holy Ka'aba. Every year, this Kiswa Factory makes new Kiswa for the Holy Ka'aba. Kiswa is made with silver wires layered with glittering gold that adorns Ka'aba - the realm of beauty present in the center of Majid Al-Haram. Kiswa covers the Holy Ka'aba with Quranic verses and supplications written over it.
Saudi Arabia has paid great attention to the making of Kiswa since 1927. The tradition of covering Ka'aba is old, it dates back to the pre-Islamic era. It is believed that Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and his son Ismail (AS) built the Ka'aba for the first time and covered it with pieces of clothes; then grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who was the caretaker of the Ka'aba first time covered the Ka'aba with cloth curtain - called Kiswa - upon the Holy Ka'aba. Since then, the covering of Ka'aba with a fine cloth has been in practice. This practice gives rise to a need for a factory whose only job is to make Kiswa.
In 1927, King Abdulaziz ibn Abdulrahman Al-Saud founded a special workshop for making the Kiswa. In 1977, the modern Kiswa factory in Makkah replaced the workshop. King Abdulaziz's sons also took great interest in making Kiswa; the latest technologies and advanced equipment were used in making Kiswa. Currently, the Management of the Grand Mosque and and the Prophet's Mosque are supervising the Kiswa Factory.
Kiswa, the black cloth, is traditionally made of pure black silk, with Quranic verses woven with silver thread and gold covering. The beautiful embroidery includes kalma Tayyba, Shahada (Islamic declaration of faith), supplications and other Quranic verses. Over 240 skilled craftsmen are appointed to weave and embroider the Kiswa with utmost care and precision. The raw silk used to make Kiswa weighs 700 Kg and is imported from Italy and Switzerland.
The Kiswa undergoes a dyeing process, is intricately woven into panels using traditional Jacquard looms, and ultimately, the beauty of Kiswa unfolds. It takes almost eight months to complete Kiswa.
The black pure-silk cloth that covers the Ka'aba in Masjid al-Haram holds a significant value for several reasons:
Symbol of unity and oneness: The Ka'aba is the first house of worship made by Hazrat Ibrahim and his son Ismail, commissioned by Allah. The house of Allah is dedicated solely to the worship of Allah. Allah has taken the responsibility of protecting His house from the wrongdoers. Regardless of colour, ethnicity, social status and gender. Every Muslim stands equal before Allah.
Eliminating Discrimination: The black colour of Kiswa eliminates differences, including social and financial differences. The black color of Kiswa was chosen at the end of Abbasid era due to the color durability and the special withstanding feature. Pilgrims and visitors consider it an honour to touch the Ka'aba. However, the constant contact has caused the Kiswa to lose its shine and durability. Therefore, the Abbasid ruler decided to choose black color so that it could withstand being touched thousands of times daily.
Replacement of Kiswa: Every year, on the 9th day of the Dhul Hijjah month, the Kiswa is replaced with a new one. This changing of Kiswa symbolizes that purification and renewal of faith are necessary to get closer to Allah.
Islamic Art: The delicate hand-woven Quranic verses and supplications in artistic calligraphic style showcase the rich Islamic art and calligraphy. Arabic calligraphy art is the main element that enhances the beauty of Ka'aba many times. The tradition of Arabic calligraphy on Kiswa has been passed down through generations, ensuring that the message of faith and unity continues to resonate with Muslims worldwide.
Visiting the Kiswa factory is an unforgettable experience. Many Hajj and Umrah pilgrims visit Kiswa factory to see with their eyes the making of Kiswa. Kiswa factory opens its doors to visitors on specific days when experienced guides give them a tour to reveal the steps involved in making Kiwa. It is important to remember that individuals are not allowed to enter the Kiswa factory; a group of 20 people with their travel agents can visit the Kiswa factory. Book Umrah and Hajj packages in advance and ask your travel agent to include the Kiswa factory visit in your tour.
As stated earlier, Kiswa factory is managed by Gran Mosque and Prophet Mosque Management. The general presidency of both Mosques has decided to expand the Kiswa factory to facilitate a large number of visitors. The expansion plan includes a small museum showcasing the making of Kiswa in different eras and production processes; the audio and visual details and educational exhibits make it easy for every visitor to understand the history, significance and making process easily.
The Kiswa factory welcomes Muslim visitors to explore the Kiswa factory and immerse themselves in an unbeatable experience of sewing and weaving the Kiswa with their own eyes from 8:00 Am to 11:00 AM from Monday to Thursday.
The old Ksiwa, after its replacement, is cut into small pieces and then gifted to dignitaries, educational organizations and heads of state.
The Kiswa factory in Makkah is proof of Islam's continuing traditions and deep spirituality. The Muslim community's ongoing commitment to the worship of Allah and the preservation of the sacred Kaaba is reflected in the role of the factory that produces the Kiswa. This makes it a respected institution with both historical and religious importance. If you are planning to undertake Umrah and Hajj journey this year, don’t forget to book Umrah packages 2024 with us so that you can witness the making of Kiswa with our guided group tour to the Kiswa factory.