Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (abbreviation CTHM; Arabic: خَادِمُ ٱلْحَرَمَيْنِ ٱلشَّرِيفَيْنِ, Khādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn), Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries or Protector of the Two Holy Cities, is a royal style that has been used by many Muslim rulers, including the Ayyubids, the Mamluk sultans of Egypt, the Ottoman sultans, Kings of Hejaz and in the modern age, Saudi Arabian kings. The title was sometimes regarded to denote the de facto Caliph of Islam,[1] but it mainly refers to the ruler taking the responsibility of guarding and maintaining the two holiest mosques in Islam: Al-Haram Mosque (Arabic: اَلْمَسْجِدُ ٱلْحَرَامُ, romanized: Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, "The Sacred Mosque") in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque (Arabic: اَلْمَسْجِدُ ٱلنَّبَوِيُّ, romanized: Al-Masjid an-Nabawī) in Medina,[1][2] both of which are in the Hejazi region[3] of Saudi Arabia.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
خَادِمُ ٱلْحَرَمَيْنِ ٱلشَّرِيفَيْنِ
Khādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn (in Arabic)
Salman bin Abdulaziz
since 23 January 2015
First monarchSaladin


The holy mosques of Mecca (left) and Medina (right), illustrated in an 18th century religious manuscript

It is believed that the first person to use the title was Saladin.[4]

After defeating the Mamluks and gaining control of the Mecca and Medina in 1517, the Ottoman Sultan Selim I adopted the title. Rather than style himself the Ḥākimü'l-Ḥaremeyn (Arabic: حَاكِمُ الْحَرَمَيْن, Ruler of The Two Holy Cities), he accepted the title Ḫādimü'l-Ḥaremeyn (Arabic: خَادِمُ الْحَرَمَيْن, Servant of The Two Holy Cities).[5][6][7]

The first King of Saudi Arabia to assume the title was Faisal bin Abdul Aziz (1906–1975). His successor Khalid did not use the title,[4] but the latter's successor Fahd did, replacing the term "His Majesty" with it.[8] The current king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, took the same title after the death of King Abdullah, his half brother, on 23 January 2015.[2]


  1. Wood, Paul (August 1, 2005). "Life and legacy of King Fahd". BBC News. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  2. "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz". The Saudi Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  3. Hopkins, Daniel J.; 편집부 (2001). Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. p. 479. ISBN 0-87779-546-0. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
  4. Fakkar, Galal (27 January 2015). "Story behind the king's title". Arab News. Jeddah. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. Emecen, Feridun (2009). "Selim I". TDV Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 36 (Sakal – Sevm) (in Turkish). Istanbul: Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Centre for Islamic Studies. pp. 413–414. ISBN 978-975-389-566-8.
  6. İlber Ortaylı, "Yavuz Sultan Selim", Milliyet (In Turkish)
  7. "İlber Ortaylı, "Surre alayı Topkapı Sarayı'ndan geçiyor"" [İlber Ortaylı, "The Surre procession passes through Topkapı Palace"]. Milliyet (in Turkish). 20 April 2008.
  8. "Fahad played pivotal role in development". Gulf Daily News. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2013.

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