Sheikh Al-Kalbani is best known as the first black Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, but there is much more to know about him. While other Imams are full-blooded tribal Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Al-Kalbani is the son of poor immigrants from neighboring Gulf states. His father was a low-level government clerk who immigrated from Ras Al-Khaima (now UAE). Sheikh Al-Kalbani took night classes at King Saud University in Riyadh, while working his way through school at a job with Saudi Airlines.
In 1984, Sheikh Al-Kalbani became an Imam, first at the mosque inside the Riyadh airport. After serving as the Imam of Riyadh mosques for several decades, Sheikh Al-Kalbani was appointed to the Grand Mosque in Makkah by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Of the decision, Sheikh Al-Kalbani was quoted as saying at the time: “Any qualified individual, no matter what his color, no matter where from, will have a chance to be a leader, for his good and his country’s good.”
Sheikh Al-Kalbani is well known for his deep baritone, beautiful voice. He is married and has 12 children.