Custodian of the Holy Kaabah dies

KUALA LUMPUR: The senior caretaker of the Holy Kaabah, Dr Saleh bin Zain Al-Abidin Al-Shaibi, died in Makkah on Friday evening.

Saleh was the 77th key holder of the Kaabah since the conquest of Makkah. His duties included opening and closing the Kaabah, maintaining its cleanliness, repairing its Kiswa (covering), and welcoming visitors.

He assumed the guardianship role following the death of his uncle, Abdulqader Taha Al-Shaibi, in 2013, Arab News reported.

Saleh was a distinguished scholar with a doctorate in Islamic studies.

He served as a university professor and authored several works on creed and history.

His son, Abdulrahman Saleh Al-Shaibi, shared with Arab News that bidding farewell to his father was one of the most difficult and sorrowful experiences of his life.

Despite the profound loss, the family accepted Allah's will, remembering Saleh as a man who was always close to everyone and dedicated his life to serving the family.

Abdulrahman noted that his father had been battling illness recently but remained patient and steadfast.

The community joined the family in mourning, expressing their deep sorrow for the loss of the Al-Shaibi family's pillar.

Saleh chaired the Department of Creed at Umm Al-Qura University for over two decades.

Known for his academic rigour and love of knowledge, he explored religious and doctrinal issues profoundly, leaving a significant and lasting impact on the scholarly community.

Appointed by King Fahd bin Abdulaziz, Saleh served on the Saudi Shoura Council and was the deputy to his uncle in the guardianship of the Kaabah until he became the senior caretaker.

Abdulrahman further revealed that he had acted as his father's deputy for five years before his cousin, Abdulmalik Al-Shaibi, took over.

Saleh had expressed a desire for his son to succeed him as the key holder of the Kaabah. However, if this wish is not fulfilled, the guardianship and key will pass to his uncle Abdulwahab Al-Shaibi.

Nizar Al-Shaibi, Saleh's cousin, remarked to Arab News that while the family mourns deeply, the overwhelming support and condolences from society have helped ease their grief. He expressed gratitude for the legacy of Dr. Saleh, who dedicated his life to the guardianship of the Kaabah and its reverence.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque mourned the loss of Saleh.

In a statement, they conveyed their deepest condolences to his family, acknowledging his significant role as the senior caretaker of the Holy Kaabah.

Khaled Al-Husseini, a writer and expert on Makkah's affairs, expressed profound sorrow over Saleh's passing. He described him as a man of immense knowledge and learning, whose contributions as a scholar, academic, and lecturer at Umm Al-Qura University benefited successive generations over 20 years.

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