Sheikh Saleh Al Shaiba: The Keeper Of The Ka’bah’s Key

Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi is the Kaaba’s senior custodian, from from a family that has been responsible for the sacred structure’s upkeep for centuries. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) gave Uthman Ibn Abi Talha (رضي الله عنه) the key to the city and told him that the honor should be kept in his family forever. After the capture of Makkah in the eighth year of Hijra, the tradition began. The Prophet instructed him, “Oh, Bani Talkha, forever, up to Day of Revival, and nobody would be able to take it away from you, except the unfair, oppressing tyrant”. This, in turn explains why this tradition has been inherited by the sons of Shaybah and their successors till present times.



Sheikh Saleh Al Shaiba is Uthman ibn Talha’s (رضي الله عنه) 108th descendant and successor. Al-Shaibi is the 77th member of the family to serve as a caregiver. He possesses a degree in Islamic studies and was born in Makkah. Sheikh Saleh began his career as a university lecturer and has written several religious and historical works.

The family has been in charge of the Kaaba’s affairs from the inside out, including cleaning, washing, ironing, and repairing its Kiswa if it is torn apart, as well as receiving visitors. The Kaaba is cleansed every year on the 15th of the month of Mukharram. The emir of Mecca maintains regular contact with the protector after receiving the Royal award, particularly for procedural agreements.

After his uncle, Abdulqader Taha Al-Shaibi, died in 2013, Saleh Al-Shaibi took over as keeper of the Kaaba. The caretaker’s duties are currently confined to the opening and closure of the Kaaba. If there are any state visitors, the royal court, the Interior Ministry, and the emergency forces coordinate with him.

The first Kaaba keeper, historical succession

Mohi Eddin al-Hashemi, an Islamic scholar and researcher who specializes on the two Holy Mosques, points out that the story of the guardianship of the holy Kaaba had been first instituted during the times of the Prophet Ibrahim. During which, God ordered the Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail to raise the foundations of the Kaaba. Hence, initiating the tradition and the guardianship of the Kaaba.

The latter includes the maintenance of all matters related to the al-Musharrafah (Holy Kaaba) ranging from its opening and closing it, to preserving its immaculacy as well as monitoring its visitors. Monitoring all affairs related to the Holy Kaaba also comprises the supervision of the mausoleum of the Prophet Ibrahim.

Al-Hashimi stated that the Prophet Ibrahim entrusted, in turn, the guardianship of the Kaaba to his son Ismail, who continued the tradition until his passing. Afterwards, the tradition was taken over from the sons of Ismail against their will by the tribe of Jarham (Banu Jarhma). Later on, it came also to be forcibly passed over to the tribe of Khuzaah (Banu Khuzaah), but its possession was regained by Qusai ibn Kilab ibn Murrah, who was the third great grandfather of the prophet Muhammad and a descendent of Ismail, the first to serve as the Kabaa’s caretaker.

Subsequently all matters related to the latter were entrusted to Qusai ibn Kilab. The latter had three sons namely Abd-al-Dar the eldest (great-great grandfather of Shaiba ibn Hashim more known as Abdul-Mutallib), Abd Manaf (great-great grandfather of the prophet Muhammad) and Abd-al-Uzza. Abd Manaf was highly honored among the tribes and honored for his wisdom and sound discernment during his lifetime, which prompted Qusai to entrust the caretaking of the Kaaba to Abd Manaf. However, shortly before Qusai’s death as way of honoring his eldest Abd-al-Dar, he entrusted to him all his rights and powers including the caretaking of Kabaa.

The narrative of the Kaaba’s guardianship in Islam

Mohi Eddin al-Hashimi claims that, when the prophet Muhammad entered Mecca, his people accepted Islam, only Usman hid. Then the prophet ordered to Ali ibn Abu Talib to take the key away of Usman. Ali tried to find Usman and asked for a key but Usman did not want to give it voluntarily. Then Ali just snatched out the key at him. Doors of the Kaaba were open, the Prophet came inside and made a his prayer there. At that time there was the Prophet’s uncle Abbas ibn Abd al-Mutallib who expressed desire together with the family to watch the key.

Soon the prophet Muhammad ordered to Ali to return the key to Usman ibn Talkha and to apologize at him. It threw Usman in shock: he could not believe that Ali returned the key on order of the person who had conquered Mecca. Ali explained to him that the verse came to him, where the Creator instructed the prophet to regain the trust to the one to whom it belonged.

The Saudi era’s guardianship

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zine Al Abidine bin Abdul-Maati al-Shaibi now holds the guardianship of Saudi Arabia, a post he has held for 43 years. He had male sons before he died in 1253 AH. After him, his eldest son Abdul Kader, his brother Solomon, Ahmed, and Abdullah were given guardianship.

According to al-Hashemi, that the guardianship was transferred to the next generation to Sheikh Abdul Qadir Bin Ali bin Mohammed bin Zine Al Abidine Al Shaibi. He was the first to witness the unification of the Kingdom and died in 1351.

Mohammed Bin Mohammed Saleh Al Shaibi became the caretaker of the Kaaba. Upon for his illness, he transferred the guardianship to Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdul Qadir al-Shaibi, who was succeeded by his sons Amin, Taha and then Assem.

Their cousin Talha bin Hassan al-Shaibi received the guardianship followed by Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Qadir al-Shaibi who died in the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in 1431 AH. The guardianship moved to Sheikh Abdul Qadir bin Taha bin Abdul Allah al-Shaibi who served the Kaaba for four years. His reign witnessed the change of the Kaaba’s lock by the order of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

On behalf of the King, Prince Khaled al-Faisal handed him the lock during the cleaning of the Kaaba. He died after a long struggle with the sickness after seeing the installation of a lock for the Kaaba’s inner repentance door. Sheikh Dr. Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidine Al-Shaibi, his cousin, took over as caretaker.

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One comment on “Sheikh Saleh Al Shaiba: The Keeper Of The Ka’bah’s Key

Muhammed Sanusi Haruna

How would I be part of the Holy mosque custodians?


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