Understand the Kiswa and why it’s so special

Discover some amazing facts about the Kiswa, the black silk cloth embroidered with Quranic verses that covers the Kaaba in Makkah. Why is it so special?

Brief history of the Kiswa

Since the time of The Prophet Ismael (PBUH), one of the most important aspects of venerating the Holy Kaaba has been the Kiswa. Most stories indicate that the first person to cover the Kaaba was the King of Yemen, Tubba Abu Karab of Himyar.

Tubba’s successors considered the Kaaba’s cover to be a religious duty. When the Kiswa became worn out or damaged, it was replaced and the old one was cut into small pieces and buried.

Where is the Kiswa made?

At first, the kings of Egypt and Yemen took turns producing the Kaaba cover. Then Egypt took over completely, until political disputes caused Egypt to stop sending covers. Kaaba covers are now produced in Makkah.

Learn how to visit the Kiswa Factory in Makkah.

Amazing facts about the Kiswa

  • It is made of 670 kg of black silk.
  • An estimated 220 kg of gold and silver thread is needed to embroider its Quranic verses.
  • It covers 658 sqm.
  • It currently takes 137 workers around 8 months to create the Kiswa. More sophisticated machinery is speeding up the embroidery process.
  • Cost estimates vary, but it is valued at around 22 million SAR, around 6 million USD.
  • The Kaaba cover is replaced annually on the Day of Arafah, the ninth day of the Hajj month of Dhu al-Hijjah.
Makkah Kaaba Door with verses from the Koran in gold

The Kiswa is richly embroidered with Quranic verses

Discover the story and symbolism of the Black Stone

Have you ever wondered what the Black Stone is and where it comes from? An Islamic relic in the wall of the Kaaba, pilgrims often touch and kiss it as part of the tawaf ritual. Here is a short insight into this precious stone:

Set in an oval silver frame in the southeastern corner of the Kaaba, the Black Stone is where a pilgrim’s tawaf begins and ends. As they circle the Kaaba, pilgrims kiss, touch or point towards it, following the example of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

Origins of the Black Stone

The Black Stone, set into the wall about 1.5 metres off the ground, is no longer whole but broken into several fragments of black rock. They are shiny, worn down by hundreds of years of being touched and kissed by pilgrims.

The stone derives is importance and value in Islam to its origins as a stone from heaven. There are different stories about how it appeared and was placed in the wall of the Kaaba.

The Black Stone throughout history

Why is the Black Stone not whole? It has had a tumultuous history, with many attempts at theft or removal. It was damaged during the Siege of Mecca in 683 AD, during which the Kaaba was badly burned by the Umayyad army.

Kissing the Black Stone

When circling the Kaaba as part of the tawaf, you can try to touch the stone with your hand and kiss it. If you can’t reach it, you can point at it or kiss something else which has touched the stone.

As the cornerstone of the Kaaba, the Black Stone is the most venerated stone on the face of the earth. Muslims wish to kiss it because the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) did so. However, keep in mind that the Black Stone is simply a stone. It is symbolic like a country’s flag is symbolic: something to respect and take pride in. Kissing it is not an obligation but a demonstration of love, just as you would kiss one of your children.

As the Second Khalifa of the Muslims, Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) is quoted as saying:

I know that you are a stone, you do not cause benefit or harm; and if it were not that I had seen Allah’s Messenger – peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – kiss you, I would never have kissed you.

Learn more

To learn more about the tawaf and other rituals, see our step-by-step guide to Hajj or guide to Umrah.

The Black Stone in Makkah

The Black Stone is protected by a silver frame

Kaaba in Mecca

Set in the southeast corner of the Kaaba, the Black Stone is venerated by Muslims

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