Ka`bah Covering Sold in London Auction
- The kiswa carries the seal of Sultan Mohammad V Rashad Bin 'Abd Al-Majid.
Ka`bah Covering, Rare Manuscripts in London Auction
CAIRO, April 2, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) A door curtain (kiswa) of the
Ka`bah dating back to 1909 and a collection of rare Islamic
manuscripts will be put on sale Wednesday, April 5, at the
London-based Sotheby's auction house.
The rectangular curtain, carrying the seal of Sultan Mohammad V Rashad
Bin 'Abd Al-Majid and dating A.H.1327/A.D.1909, is embroidered with
heavy gold and silver thread on a grey-black velvet ground, according
to Sotheby's website.
The decoration is made up of calligraphic cartouches of varying form,
rectangular, square, circular and foliate, enclosed and bordered by
arabesques with a central cream ground panel bearing the name of the
The uppermost border with three roundels is interspersed with oval
Each roundel bears an inscription reading from right to left "Allah is
my Lord", "Allah is my Judge," and "Allah is my Lord."
The right hand cartouche is inscribed with verse 144 from Surat
The bismillah and the opening surah decorate all the oval medallions
surrounding this panel.
There are eight horizontal panels inscribed with verses from the Noble
Qur'an like Ayat Al-Kursi and phrases like "Allah is my judge."
The Ka`bah is the first and the most ancient house of worship ever
built for all of humankind.
It is dedicated to the worship of one God. So by facing toward the
Ka`bah in prayers, Muslims are stressing the unity of humankind under
the Lordship of the One and only God.
It is an Islamic tradition to change the Ka`bah kiswa once or twice a
year, a practice that is still very much alive today.
It was customary also to produce two cloths, one to be kept in reserve
in case of emergency.
In pre-Islam period, the responsibility of covering the Ka`bah was not
confined to any one, rather any interested party could do it.
According to tradition, the first to cover the Ka`bah was As'ad, a
king of Yemen, in the fourth or fifth century, and the covering was
made of colorful Yemeni fabric.
The first to cover the Ka`bah under Islam was Prophet Muhammad himself
(peace and blessings be upon him), and he chose Yemeni silks. The
Righteous Caliphs then took over.
Under the Ottomans, the Sultan, as Caliph, retained the privilege of
providing the kiswa, though it continued to be manufactured in Egypt.
In recent history under the reign of Saudi King `Abd Al-`Aziz Al Saud,
Egypt was banned from sending the kiswa due to political tensions
between both countries.
The king ordered that the mantle be sewn in Makkah itself.
In 1937, relations between the Saudi and Egyptian states returned to
normal and the Egyptians once again produced the cloth until 1962 when
the honor was restored to the people of Makkah.
A paper of Qur'an written in Kufi calligraphy and dating back to the
10th century is also for sale.
A covering from the tomb of the Prophet in Maddinah made during the
rule of Ottoman Sultan Mahmoud II (1808-1839) will be also on display.
This magnificent cloth was made for the wall facing the room where the
Prophet is buried.
A collection of rare Islamic manuscripts will also be sold at
They include a complete Qur'an in 30 separate juz', illuminated Arabic
manuscript on paper and dating A.H. 1004/A.D. 1595.
Also for sale is a paper of Qur'an written in Kufi calligraphy and
dating back to the 10th century.
A copy of the 36th and 11th sections of Sahihul Bukhari (authentic
hadiths of the Prophet) dating A.D. 1137 and 1384 respectively as well
as a copy of the fifth juz' of the Qur'an dating back to the 15th
century are also put on sale.
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