In the year 630 CE, Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم gained victory over the Meccan chiefs and entered Mecca peacefully. He returned home not to live there for the rest of his life but to clear paganism and liberate or restore the original purpose of Kaaba established by Prophet Abraham. He removed all idols from around the Kaaba and asked his companion Bilal to climb on top of Kaaba and call :
الله أكبر,الله أكبر Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest
أشهد أن لا اله إلا الله , I witness that there is no deity but Allah
أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله , I witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah
Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم wanted the key for the door of Kaaba, so he called Othman bin Talha ( of Bani Shayba family) who was the keeper of the Kaaba key. It is important to know that there was a treaty before Islam in which the honor of being the custodian or a warden of Kaaba was given to the family of Bani Shayba. This honor and responsibility was passed from the grandfathers to sons in the same family until it reached Othman bin Talha.
At that moment many people asked Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم to grant them the honor of keeping the key of Kaaba and thousands of Muslims were looking at Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم to see who would be the new custodian of the Kaaba key.
Breaking a moment of silence, Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم opened the door of Kaaba and cleared it of idols. He looked at Othman bin Talha and said to him (respecting previous agreements):
Today is a day of loyalty and piety! Take the key back.
As from now until the Day of Judgment,
no one can take it from you (family of Bani Shayba)
unless he was an aggressor.
You may be surprised to know that the key is still being held by the offspring of Bani Shayba family until now. More than 1400 years passed and the key is still given from one generation of Bani Shayba family to the next generation. Until now no one dares to take it from them otherwise he or she would be considered as an “aggressor” according to Prophet Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم description.
Nowadays, when the Saudi authorities perform their annual cleaning and preparation of Kaaba for the annual pilgrimage, they contact a person from Bani Shayba family (who is currently a Saudi family) to open the Kaaba door for them.
A 12 century key to the Kaaba, has sold for 9.2 million pounds (18.2 million dollars), setting a new record for an Islamic work of art at auction.
The Abbasid period key, made of iron and measuring 37 cm long, sold at Sotheby's in London for more than 18 times its pre-sale estimate and was bought anonymously. It is the only known example to remain in private hands.
The key, one of the ultimate symbols of religious power, is engraved with the words: "This is what was made for the Holy House of God during the time of our lord the Imam son of Imam al-Muqtadi Abu Jaafar al-Mustansir Abu al-Abbas 573."
In addition to the key sold at Sotheby's, there are 58 recorded Kaaba keys, all held in museums.
Most, 54, are in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, two are in the Nuhad Es-Said Collection, one is in the Louvre in Paris and one is in the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo.
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