The Description of the Kiswa of the Kaaba


Selam Aleykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatahu

Here is a description of the kiswa/ghilaf or covering of the Kaaba during the time of Ibn Jubayr on his pilgrimage in 1184 A.D.

At the end of each hajj – the old fabric covering of the Ka’ba (kiswa) was removed and replaced with a new one. In the early years of Islamic History it became customary for the calipha to supply the new kiswa each year.

According to Ibn Jubair, :

On Saturday, which was the Day of Sacrifice, the Kiswah [‘Robe’] of the Holy Ka’bah was conveyed on four camels from the encampment of the ‘Iraqi Emir to Mecca. Before it, walked the new Qadi wearing the black vestment given to him by the Caliph, preceded by banners and followed by rolling drums…

The Kiswah was placed on the venerated roof of the Ka’bah, and on Tuesday the 13th of the Blessed Month, the Shaybites were busily employed in draping it. It was of a ripe green color and held the eyes in spell for its beauty.

In its upper part, it had a broad red band (that ran around the Ka’bah) and on the side that faces the venerated Maqam (Station of Ibrahim A.S.), the side that has the venerated door that is blessed, there was written on this band after the Basmalah – the words, “Surely the first sanctuary appointed for mankind (was that at Bekkah (applying to Mecca)). On the Other side was written the name of the Calipha with invocations in his favour. Running around the band were two reddish zones with small white roundels – containing inscriptions in fine characters that included verses from the Koran and mentions of the Caliph.

—  Broadhurst, Trans; The Travels of Ibn Jubayr p.185, Peters, The Hajj p.126-127.