AFTER Haj last year – in the middle of December – I was invited for a unique trip to Makkah by my Saudi friend Mrs. Fatin Hussain.
Fatin, a supervisor of schools in Makkah, does social service during Haj and Umrah every year. She serves pilgrims to make their rituals as comfortable as possible, always ready to help those in need.
We started in the morning around 10:30; all invitees were asked to gather at her husband’s office in the Pilgrims Guides Establishment for South Asia.
First we visited the Kiswa factory, where the cloth draped over Ka’ba is made. It was impressing to see workers prepare the inside and the outside cloth. They sew the script separately and stitch it later on to the Kiswa. The guides were informative. While showing around the factory, they told us all about the Kiswa and its preparation. We saw how gold and silver threads, used for the script, are prepared. Wooden planks and strings of nylon are used. We saw how the main black cloth of Kiswa is remade by hand and how the green cloth inside is scripted with verses from the Qur’an.
From the Kiswa factory we went to a historic museum. I was astonished to see such a priceless collection of our past. I was spellbound and went hundreds of years back in history. Old artifacts, tiles, stones engraved with the names of kings, collections from the Ottoman empire, and some items even dated back to 100H. Brass minarets, framed pictures, stones, granites, heavy locks, and previous doors of the Sacred Mosque. Pictures of renovations and extensions were also displayed. There was also a beautiful model of the new expansion of the Holy Haram.
I was lost in our glorious past and did not want to leave the treasures of our rich Islamic heritage, Alhamdulillah.
Lastly, we visited the place where pure Zamzam water is extracted in stages. It was amazing to know how Saudi authorities process the Zamzam water. In another museum, models explaining the cycle of processing Zamzam from the olden days to the present were displayed, along with old pots and vessels that were used to serve Zamzam.
We then headed back and returned home by Maghrib. What I did not mention was the sumptuous lunch Fatin arranged for us. Visiting our heritage along with such warm hospitality made this trip unique and the most memorable one I have had to any other place in Saudi Arabia, excluding, of course, the Two Holy Mosques. – SG
– Sultan is an MBA graduate living in Jeddah